Literary magazine

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The cover of the first issue of Poetry magazine, published in 1912. Poetry cover1.jpg
The cover of the first issue of Poetry magazine, published in 1912.

A literary magazine is a periodical devoted to literature in a broad sense. Literary magazines usually publish short stories, poetry, and essays, along with literary criticism, book reviews, biographical profiles of authors, interviews and letters. Literary magazines are often called literary journals, or little magazines, terms intended to contrast them with larger, commercial magazines. [1]



Nouvelles de la république des lettres is regarded as the first literary magazine; it was established by Pierre Bayle in France in 1684. [2] Literary magazines became common in the early part of the 19th century, mirroring an overall rise in the number of books, magazines, and scholarly journals being published at that time. In Great Britain, critics Francis Jeffrey, Henry Brougham and Sydney Smith founded the Edinburgh Review in 1802. Other British reviews of this period included the Westminster Review (1824), The Spectator (1828), and Athenaeum (1828). In the United States, early journals included the Philadelphia Literary Magazine (1803–1808), the Monthly Anthology (1803–11), which became the North American Review , the Yale Review (founded in 1819), The Yankee (1828–1829) The Knickerbocker (1833–1865), Dial (1840–44) and the New Orleans-based De Bow's Review (1846–80). Several prominent literary magazines were published in Charleston, South Carolina, including The Southern Review (182832) and Russell's Magazine (185760). [3] The most prominent Canadian literary magazine of the 19th century was the Montreal-based Literary Garland . [4]

The North American Review , founded in 1815, is the oldest American literary magazine. However, it had its publication suspended during World War II, and the Yale Review (founded in 1819) did not; thus the Yale journal is the oldest literary magazine in continuous publication. Begun in 1889, Poet Lore is considered the oldest journal dedicated to poetry. [5] By the end of the century, literary magazines had become an important feature of intellectual life in many parts of the world. One of the most notable 19th century literary magazines of the Arabic-speaking world was Al-Urwah al-Wuthqa . [6]

Among the literary magazines that began in the early part of the 20th century is Poetry magazine. Founded in 1912, it published T. S. Eliot's first poem, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock". Other important early-20th century literary magazines include The Times Literary Supplement (1902), Southwest Review (1915), Virginia Quarterly Review (1925), World Literature Today (founded in 1927 as Books Abroad before assuming its present name in 1977), Southern Review (1935), and New Letters (1935). The Sewanee Review , although founded in 1892, achieved prominence largely thanks to Allen Tate, who became editor in 1944. [7]

Two of the most influential—though radically different—journals of the last half of the 20th century were The Kenyon Review (KR) and the Partisan Review . The Kenyon Review, edited by John Crowe Ransom, espoused the so-called New Criticism. Its platform was avowedly unpolitical. Although Ransom came from the South and published authors from that region, KR also published many New York-based and international authors. The Partisan Review was first associated with the American Communist Party and the John Reed Club; however, it soon broke ranks with the party. Nevertheless, politics remained central to its character, while it also published significant literature and criticism.

The middle-20th century saw a boom in the number of literary magazines, which corresponded with the rise of the small press. Among the important journals which began in this period were Nimbus: A Magazine of Literature, the Arts, and New Ideas , which began publication in 1951 in England, the Paris Review, which was founded in 1953, The Massachusetts Review and Poetry Northwest , which were founded in 1959, X Magazine, which ran from 1959 to 1962, and the Denver Quarterly , which began in 1965. The 1970s saw another surge in the number of literary magazines, with a number of distinguished journals getting their start during this decade, including Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art , Ploughshares, The Iowa Review, Granta , Agni , The Missouri Review, and New England Review . Other highly regarded print magazines of recent years include The Threepenny Review , The Georgia Review , Ascent , Shenandoah , The Greensboro Review , ZYZZYVA , Glimmer Train , Tin House , Half Mystic Journal, the Canadian magazine Brick , the Australian magazine HEAT , and Zoetrope: All-Story . Some short fiction writers, such as Steve Almond, Jacob M. Appel and Stephen Dixon have built national reputations in the United States primarily through publication in literary magazines.[ citation needed ]

The Committee of Small Magazine Editors and Publishers (COSMEP) was founded by Richard Morris in 1968. It was an attempt to organize the energy of the small presses. Len Fulton, editor and founder of Dustbook Publishing, assembled and published the first real list of these small magazines and their editors in the mid-1970s. This made it possible for poets to pick and choose the publications most amenable to their work and the vitality of these independent publishers was recognized by the larger community, including the National Endowment for the Arts, which created a committee to distribute support money for this burgeoning group of publishers called the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines (CCLM). This organisation evolved into the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP).

Many prestigious awards exist for works published in literary magazines including the Pushcart Prize and the O. Henry Awards. Literary magazines also provide many of the pieces in The Best American Short Stories and The Best American Essays annual volumes.

Online literary magazines

SwiftCurrent, created in 1984, was the first online literary magazine. It functioned as more of a database of literary works than a literary publication. [8] In 1995, the Mississippi Review was the first large literary magazine to launch a fully online issue. [9] By 1998, Fence and Timothy McSweeney's Quarterly Concern were published and quickly gained an audience. [10] Around 1996, literary magazines began to appear more regularly online. At first, some writers and readers dismissed online literary magazines as not equal in quality or prestige to their print counterparts, while others said that these were not properly magazines and were instead ezines. One of the first literary magazines was The Morpo Review, published by a group from Omaha, Nebraska, in the 1990s. Since then, though, many writers and readers have accepted online literary magazines as another step in the evolution of independent literary journals.

There are thousands of online literary publications and it is difficult to judge the quality and overall impact of this relatively new publishing medium. [11]

Little magazines

Little magazines, or "small magazines", are literary magazines that often publish experimental literature and the non-conformist writings of relatively unknown writers. Typically they had small readership, were financially uncertain or non-commercial, were irregularly published and showcased artistic innovation. [12]

See also

Related Research Articles

New Zealand literature is literature, both oral and written, produced by the people of New Zealand. It often deals with New Zealand themes, people or places, is written predominantly in New Zealand English, and features Māori culture and the use of the Māori language. Before the arrival and settlement of Europeans in New Zealand in the 19th century, Māori culture had a strong oral tradition. Early European settlers wrote about their experiences travelling and exploring New Zealand. The concept of a "New Zealand literature", as distinct from English literature, did not originate until the 20th century, when authors began exploring themes of landscape, isolation, and the emerging New Zealand national identity. Māori writers became more prominent in the latter half of the 20th century, and Māori language and culture have become an increasingly important part of New Zealand literature.

<i>The Southern Review</i> American literary magazine

The Southern Review is a quarterly literary magazine that was established by Robert Penn Warren in 1935 at the behest of Charles W. Pipkin and funded by Huey Long as a part of his investment in Louisiana State University. It publishes fiction, poetry, critical essays, and excerpts from novels in progress by established and emerging writers and includes reproductions of visual art. The Southern Review continues to follow Warren's articulation of the mission when he said that it gives "writers decent company between the covers, and [concentrates] editorial authority sufficiently for the journal to have its own distinctive character and quality".

The Irish Literary Revival was a flowering of Irish literary talent in the late 19th and early 20th century. It includes works of poetry, music, art, and literature.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Little magazine</span> Magazine produced without a motive of profit

In the United States, a little magazine is a magazine genre consisting of "artistic work which for reasons of commercial expediency is not acceptable to the money-minded periodicals or presses", according to a 1942 study by Frederick J. Hoffman, a professor of English. While George Plimpton disagreed with the diminutive connotations of "little", the name "little magazine" is widely accepted for such magazines. A little magazine is not necessarily a literary magazine, because while the majority of such magazines are literary in nature, containing poetry and fiction, a significant proportion of such magazines are not. Some have encompassed the full range of the arts, and others have grown from zine roots.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Southern United States literature</span> American literature about the Southern United States; literature by writers from that region

Southern United States literature consists of American literature written about the Southern United States or by writers from the region. Literature written about the American South first began during the colonial era, and developed significantly during and after the period of slavery in the United States. Traditional historiography of Southern United States literature emphasized a unifying history of the region; the significance of family in the South's culture, a sense of community and the role of the individual, justice, the dominance of Christianity and the positive and negative impacts of religion, racial tensions, social class and the usage of local dialects. However, in recent decades, the scholarship of the New Southern Studies has decentralized these conventional tropes in favor of a more geographically, politically, and ideologically expansive "South" or "Souths".

New Formalism is a late 20th- and early 21st-century movement in American poetry that has promoted a return to metrical, rhymed verse and narrative poetry on the grounds that all three are necessary if American poetry is to compete with novels and regain its former popularity among the American people.

The Nahda, also referred to as the Arab Awakening or Enlightenment, was a cultural movement that flourished in Arabic-speaking regions of the Ottoman Empire, notably in Egypt, Lebanon and Syria, during the second half of the 19th century and the early 20th century.

Nationality words link to articles with information on the nation's poetry or literature.

<i>World Literature Today</i> American magazine of international literature and culture

World Literature Today is an American magazine of international literature and culture, published at the University of Oklahoma. The stated goal of the magazine is to publish international essays, poetry, fiction, interviews, and book reviews for a non-academic audience. It was founded under the name Books Abroad in 1927 by Roy Temple House, a professor at the University of Oklahoma. In January 1977, the journal assumed its present name, World Literature Today.

<i>Landfall</i> (journal) New Zealand literary magazine

Landfall is New Zealand's oldest extant literary magazine. The magazine is published biannually by Otago University Press. As of 2020, it consists of a paperback publication of about 200 pages. The website Landfall Review Online also publishes new literary reviews monthly. The magazine features new fiction and poetry, biographical and critical essays, cultural commentary, and reviews of books, art, film, drama, and dance.

The little magazine movement originated in the 1950s and 1960s in many Indian languages like Bengali, Tamil, Marathi, Hindi, Malayalam and Gujarati, in the early part of the 20th century.

Nationality words link to articles with information on the nation's poetry or literature.

<i>The Gettysburg Review</i> American literary magazine

The Gettysburg Review is a quarterly literary magazine featuring short stories, poetry, essays and reviews. Work appearing in the magazine often is reprinted in "best-of" anthologies and receives awards.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Jordan (poet)</span>

John Jordan (1930–1988) was an Irish poet and short-story writer.

<i>Fence</i> (magazine)

Fence is a print and online literary publication containing both original work and critical and journalistic coverage of what may be largely termed "experimental" or "avant garde" material. Conceived by Rebecca Wolff in 1997 and first printed in Spring 1998, its editors have included Jonathan Lethem and Ben Marcus (fiction), Matthew Rohrer and Caroline Crumpacker (poetry), and Frances Richard (non-fiction). As of January 1, 2022, poets Emily Wallis Hughes and Jason Zuzga became Editorial Co-directors.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Egyptian literature</span> Literature produced in Egypt, from ancient Egypt to contemporary times

Egyptian literature traces its beginnings to ancient Egypt and is some of the earliest known literature. Ancient Egyptians were the first to develop written literature, as inscriptions or in collections of papyrus, precursors to the modern book.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chicago literature</span> Writing that reflects the culture of the city

Chicago literature is writing, primarily by writers born or living in Chicago, that reflects the culture of the city.

The Montreal Group, sometimes referred to as the McGill Group or McGill Movement, was a circle of Canadian modernist writers formed in the mid-1920s at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. The Group included Leon Edel, John Glassco, A. M. Klein, Leo Kennedy, F. R. Scott, and A. J. M. Smith, most of whom attended McGill as undergraduates. The group championed the theory and practice of modernist poetry over the Victorian-style versification, exemplified by the Confederation Poets, that predominated in Canadian poetry at the time.

<i>Windsor Review</i>

The Windsor Review is a bi-annual journal publishing new and established writers from North America and beyond. It was established in 1965 by Eugene McNamara, and was originally named The University of Windsor Review. The Windsor Review is one of Canada's oldest continuously published literary magazines, celebrating its 50th year in 2015.


  1. Cowley, Malcolm (September 14, 1947). "The Little Magazines Growing Up; The Little Magazines". The New York Times. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved 2017-09-12.
  2. Travis Kurowski (Fall 2008). "Some Notes on the History of the Literary Magazine". Mississippi Review. 36 (3): 231–243. JSTOR   20132855.
  3. "Library of Southern Literature: Antebellum Era". Retrieved 2017-09-12.
  4. MacGillivray, S. R. (1997). "Literary Garland, The". The Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature. William Toye, Eugene Benson (2nd ed.). Toronto: Oxford University Press. ISBN   0-19-541167-6. OCLC   39624837.
  5. Charles, Ron. "America's oldest poetry journal celebrates 125 years of great verse". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2017-09-12.
  6. "Urwa al-Wuthqa, al- |". Retrieved 2020-03-11.
  7. History Archived 2006-09-01 at the Wayback Machine
  8. "SwiftCurrent". Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  9. "Volume 1, Number 1, April 1995". The Mississippi Review. University of Southern Mississippi. Archived from the original on 1998-01-28. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  10. Kurowski, Travis (2008). "Some Notes on the History of the Literary Magazine". Mississippi Review. 36 (3): 231–243. JSTOR   20132855.
  11. "Technology, Genres, and Value Change:the Case of Literary Magazines" by S. Pauling and M. Nilan. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 57(7):662-672 doi10.1022/asi.20345
  12. Barsanti, Michael (July 2017). "Little Magazines". Oxford Research Encyclopedias: Literature. doi:10.1093/acrefore/9780190201098.013.588. ISBN   978-0-19-020109-8 . Retrieved 11 July 2019.

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