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Letter From The Editor

May 2024
1min read

Who are these gentlemen? Our staff, or former staff, gathered together to hand out rejection slips and, just possibly, a grudging acceptance? Alas not. They are, from left, John Greenleaf Whittier, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Lothrop Motley, Bronson Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne (looking up in apparent boredom from a manuscript), James Russell Lowell, Louis Agassiz, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. What a set of contributors! We break no confidence when we reveal that these literary Brahmins were never photographed together; the picture is scissors-and-paste work by the noted photographer William Notman or by someone in his Boston studio. It is one of a whole drawerful of pictures of the kind any editor collects, at least one with the habits of a squirrel; it is one of those illustrations without an article that one can’t use and can’t throw away, like a single sock. In similar fashion we have five presidents of Harvard sitting together, six presidents of the American Historical Association, and—on a more interesting level a beautiful picture of Maude Adams and a hilarious portrait of Joseph Choate. Someday the other sock, the article to go with each of these pictures, may appear.

Another drawer near the pictures (it is easy to tell that we are packing) yields stranger finds—seven unidentified keys, a plaque for a forgotten and minor honor, two pen points without a holder, a pipe in the shape of an early locomotive, a small saucer marked “Votes for Women” (purportedly from the home of the late Mrs. O. H. P. Belmont, where all the crockery bore that inscription), and a set of cards for the game of Authors, bearing most of the faces shown above. And also a Willkie button, a moose call bestowed by a hearty western visitor who claimed falsely that it possessed magic powers over the feminine ear, and a Petty Girl calendar, unused, for 1947.

We are not attempting social history, merely moving from Fifth Avenue after eighteen years in one place; indeed we started out simply to announce the change until trapped by that drawer of pictures. Pulling up stakes is a sad and reflective business; it means a housecleaning. By the time our readers receive this number, we should be ensconced on the twenty-third floor of the towering new McGraw-Hill Building, part of Rockefeller Center, at 1221 Avenue of the Americas, New York 10020. (Everyone but the post office, of course, calls it Sixth Avenue.) With us go our sister magazine, HORIZON , our book operations, our business departments, the offices of our tours and other arcane operations, our very considerable library, and our picture collection of history and art, which numbers some 250,000 items and is unique in its field. Our circulation office, which handles subscriptions, remains at the same address in Marion, Ohio. Meanwhile we shall continue editing the magazine as before and strive, especially with our lofty new perspective, to attract ever better contributors —keenly aware, of course, that none of the eminent writers shown above ever saw a twenty-third floor, or even half that height, yet performed, for all that handicap, rather well. To slip into Madison Avenue argot, the name of the game in magazines is still Authors.

— Oliver Jensen

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