In 1939 Frank Luther Mott received a Pulitzer Prize for Volumes II and III of his History of American Magazines. In 1958 he was awarded the Bancroft Prize for Volume IV. He was at work on Volume V of the projected six-volume history when he died in October 1964. He had, at that time, written the sketches of the twenty-one magazines that appear in this volume. These magazines flourished during the period 1905–1930, but their “biographies” are continued throughout their entire lifespan—in the case of the ten still published, to recent years. Mott’s daughter, Mildred Mott Wedel, has prepared this volume for publication and provided notes on changes since her father’s death. No one has attempted to write the general historical chapters the author provided in the earlier volumes but which were not yet written for this last volume. A delightful autobiographical essay by the author has been included, and there is a detailed cumulative index to the entire set of this monumental work.
The period 1905–1930 witnessed the most flamboyant and fruitful literary activity that had yet occurred in America. In his sketches, Mott traces the editorial partnership of H. L. Mencken and George Jean Nathan, first on The Smart Set and then in the pages of The American Mercury. He treats The New Republic, the liberal magazine founded in 1914 by Herbert Croly and Willard Straight; the conservative Freeman; and Better Homes and Gardens, the first magazine to achieve a circulation of one million “without the aid of fiction or fashions.” Other giants of magazine history are here: we see “serious, shaggy…solid, pragmatic, self-contained” Henry Luce propel a national magazine called Time toward its remarkable prosperity. In addition to those already mentioned, the reader will find accounts of The Midland, The South Atlantic Quarterly, The Little Review, Poetry, The Fugitive, Everybody’s, Appleton’s Booklovers Magazine, Current History, Editor & Publisher, The Golden Book Magazine, Good Housekeeping, Hampton’s Broadway Magazine, House Beautiful, Success, and The Yale Review.