On February 21, 1925, The New Yorker debuted with its first issue. The New Yorker is an American magazine which includes serious reportage, social commentary, essays, satire, fiction works, poetry, and essays. Though mostly centered around the life of New Yorkers, the magazine has a broad international fanbase and because it is produced weekly, it is known for its highly topical covers and commentary on American popular culture.
The magazine was founded by Harold Ross and his wife, New York Times reporter Jane Grant. Tired of the “corny” content which filled other humorous publications at the time, Ross strove to create something sophisticated, yet entertaining. The magazine started out as a glorified society column centering around life in New York featuring a now famous dandy gentleman staring at a butterfly through a monocle on the cover. The dandy man on the cover, later given the name ‘Eustace Tilley,’ was drawn by The New Yorker‘s first art director, Rea Irvin.
Tilley’s appearance on the first cover was meant to be a joke, but confused readers did not know what to make of it or the magazine at first. Was it supposed to be an accurate portrayal of The New Yorker readers? And if so, what did it mean? Are readers cosmopolitan individuals closely studying life’s small beauties? Or are they haughty beings only concerned with their own existence? The perplexing first cover image seemed to mirror the likewise befuddling content inside. Filled with gossip and writing targeted at in-the-know Manhattanites, those involved in the beginning soon decided a broader scope should be the natural evolution of the new publication.
Still holding on to its humorous roots, The New Yorker gradually established a base for serious fiction writers and journalists to publish their work. After World War II came to an end, the magazine began to print short stories, poems, essays, and other contemplative and stimulating writing by some of the 20th and 21st centuries’ most renowned writers. Such famed names as Haruki Murakami, Vladimir Nabokov, John O’Hara, Philip Roth, J. D. Salinger, Irwin Shaw, James Thurber, John Updike, and E. B. White have appeared with bylines in the publication.
The New Yorker’s circulation is now well over one million, and its audience is made up mostly well-educated and liberal-minded individuals who seek the detailed coverage and commentary of Americana the magazine provides. Its combination of journalism and creative pieces as well as reviews and art has made The New Yorker one of the most revered magazines in the world.