The Writer: Last Days of an Icon

One hundred twenty five years dedicated to “inspire, instruct and inform writers at all levels.”

That is the mission of The Writer, the magazine flying the tagline “Imagine.  Write.  Publish.”

And the publishers have done all that for over a century.  They, and their contributors, inspired writers at all stages of their craft and career through articles about and by the authors whose books graced past and current bestseller lists.

Writers received invaluable instruction in articles detailing the how-to’s required to write, edit, find an agent, work with a publisher, and meet and connect with their readers.  The magazine became a one-stop resource for writers.

I wonder if when the founders, Boston Globe reporters William H. Hills and Robert Luce, published their first issue in April 1887, they had any idea how long their publication would serve the writing community.  Or that their small literary tool would gain the prestige of becoming one of the oldest continually published magazines in theUnited States.

Hills and Luce certainly would be proud to know how through the years their goals were met and exceeded following the birth of the The Write: a monthly magazine for Literary Workers.


 The cover of the first issue reveals the writer of those days could receive this valuable information for the price of ten cents per issue, or one dollar for one year.  Within the nineteen pages, the reader could discover “How I Write My Sermons: A Confession” by M.J. Savage, or find the answer to the question “Does It Pay to be a Reporter?” by Stephen O’ Mearo, or learn writing skills from seven other articles.  He could read a review of Mistakes in Writing English and How to Avoid Them: For the use of all who teach, write, or speak the language, by Marshall T. Bigelow.  Finally, the reader could check out the Helpful Hints and Suggestions column.

The stated mission of the new magazine was:

  • To be helpful, interesting and instructive to all literary workers.
  • To give plain and practical hints, helps and suggestions about preparing and editing manuscripts.
  • To collect and publish the experiences, experiments, and observations of literary people, for the benefit of all writers.
  • To note improved methods and labor-saving devices for literary workers.
  • To discuss in a practical way interesting questions of etymology, grammar, rhetoric, or verse-making.
  • To print entertaining and personal articles by and about noted literary people.
  • To record the important new of the literary world.
  • To aid young writers in reaching the public by advising them how to make their copy salable.
  • To be of value to the writers of sermons, lectures, letters: to all in brief, who write for the newspaper, the magazine, or the book-publisher.”

Hills and Luce resolved to provide “articles with plain, common-sense ideas about the most effective use of English in every-day work…”  Generations of writer-readers would attest to how effectively their magazine has accomplished that goal.

But in the same year The Writer celebrates this milestone, comes a surprising press release from Editor Jeff Reich.

On July 25, 2012, contributors began to report receiving emails from Reich in which he revealed that following the publication of the October 2012 issue, The Writer will go on hiatus.  He indicated that Kalmbach Publishing Co., which owns the magazine, is seeking a buyer.  They hope a new owner will bring the magazine back.

Yesterday I received my copy of the next to last issue.  By the time I read through to the back cover nearly every page will display dashes of highlighter, or the top corner of the page folded over, sometimes accordioned, when both sides of a page feature an article I want to revisit easily on another day.

At some point, the magazines stacking up beside my reading chair will reach a critical tipping point, forcing me to go through each issue again, making decisions and tearing out the articles I must save for future reference.

It’s hard to imagine a month when I won’t be able to curl up in my chair to enjoy the latest issue of The Writer.

Have you been a reader, or subscriber, of The Writer?  Is there any other writing magazine you plan to subscribe to in order to fill the gap this loss will leave in your writing life?  Leave a comment and let us know your favorite writing publication(s).