The Saturday Evening Post

The Saturday Evening Post

"The Saturday Evening Post" was a weekly magazine published in the United States from August 4, 1821 to February 8, 1969. From 1897, it was published by Curtis Publishing Company. Curtis claimed the magazine was descended from "The Pennsylvania Gazette", founded in 1728 by Benjamin Franklin although the magazine's first issue was published more than 30 years after Franklin's death. According to historians and circulation numbers, the magazine gained prominent status under the leadership of its editor (1899-1937) George Horace Lorimer.

"The Saturday Evening Post" published current events articles, editorials, human interest pieces, humor, illustrations, a letter column, poetry (including work written by readers), single-panel cartoons and stories. It was known for commissioning lavish illustrations and original works of fiction. The illustrations were featured on the cover, and embedded in stories and advertising. Some "Post" illustrations became popular and continue to be reproduced as posters or prints, especially those by Norman Rockwell.


In 1916, "Saturday Evening Post" editor George Lorimer discovered Rockwell, then an unknown 22-year-old New York artist. Lorimer promptly purchased two illustrations from Rockwell, using them as covers, and commissioned three more drawings. Rockwell's illustrations of the American family and rural life of a bygone era became icons. He painted for the "Post" until 1963.

The "Post" also employed Nebraska artist John Philip Falter, who became known "as a painter of Americana with an accent of the Middle West," who "brought out some of the homeliness and humor of Middle Western town life and home life." He produced 120 covers for the "Post" between 1943 and 1968, ceasing only when the magazine began displaying photographs on its covers. Other cover illustrators include the artists N.C. Wyeth, J. C. Leyendecker and John E. Sheridan.


Each issue featured several original short stories and often included an installment of a serial appearing in successive issues. Most of the fiction was written for mainstream tastes by popular writers, but some literary writers were featured. The opening pages of stories featured paintings by the leading magazine illustrators. The "Post" published stories and essays by Ray Bradbury, Kay Boyle, Agatha Christie, Brian Cleeve, F. Scott Fitzgerald, C. S. Forester, Paul Gallico, Hammond Innes, Louis L'Amour, C. S. Lewis, Joseph C. Lincoln, John P. Marquand, Sax Rohmer, William Saroyan, John Steinbeck and Rex Stout.

Emblematic of the "Post's" fiction was author Clarence Budington Kelland, who first appeared in 1916-17 with stories of homespun heroes, Efficiency Edgar and Scattergood Baines. Kelland was a steady presence from 1922 until 1961, when the magazine reduced its fiction content.

For many years William Hazlett Upson contributed stories about Earthworm Tractors salesman Alexander Botts. Publication in the "Post" launched careers and helped established artists and writers stay afloat. P. G. Wodehouse said "the wolf was always at the door" until the "Post" gave him his "first break" in 1915 by serializing "Something New". [cite web |url= |title=The Art of Fiction - P.G. Wodehouse |accessdate=2008-06-09 |date=2005 (reprint) |work=The Paris Review |format=pdf |pages=21 ]

After the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, "Post" columnist Garet Garrett became a vocal critic of the New Deal. Garrett accused the Roosevelt administration of initiating socialist strategies. After Lorimer died, Garrett became editorial writer-in-chief and criticized the Roosevelt administration's support of the U.K. and efforts to prepare to enter what became World War 2. Garrett's positions aroused controversy and may have cost the "Post" readers and advertisers.


The "Post" declined in the late 1950s and 1960s. The decline of general interest magazines was blamed on television, which competed for advertizers and readers' attention. The "Post" had problems retaining readers: the public's taste in fiction was changing, and the "Post" 's conservative politics and values remained controversial. Content by popular writers became harder to obtain. Prominent authors drifted away to newer magazines offering more money and status, like "Playboy Magazine". As a result, the "Post" published more articles on current events and cut costs by replacing illustrations with photographs for covers and advertisements.

Curtis Publishing Co. stopped publishing the "Post" after the company lost a landmark defamation suit, Curtis Publishing Co. v. Butts 388 U.S. 130 (1967) [ussc|Source=f|388|130|1967] resulting from an article, and was ordered to pay $3,060,000 in damages to the plaintiff. The "Post" article implied that football coaches Paul "Bear" Bryant and Wally Butts conspired to fix a game between the University of Alabama and the University of Georgia. Butts sued Curtis Publishing Co. for defamation. The case went to the Supreme Court, which held that libel damages may be recoverable (in this instance against a news organization) if the injured party is a non-public official. But the plaintiff must prove that the defendant was guilty of a reckless lack of professional standards when examining allegations for reasonable credibility.

Otto Friedrich, the magazine's last managing editor, blamed the death of the "Post" on Curtis. In his "Decline and Fall" (Harper & Row, 1970), an account of the magazine's final years (1962-1969), he argued that corporate management was unimaginative and incompetent. Friedrich acknowledges the "Post" faced challenges as the tastes of American readers changed over the course of the 1960s, but he insisted that the magazine maintained a standard of quality and was appreciated by readers.

In 1971, the "Post" was revived as a quarterly publication with health and medical articles for the lay reader. [cite news | last = Anonymous| title = Return of the Post| work = "Time Magazine"| date = June 14 1971
url =,9171,909890-2,00.html
accessdate = 2008-04-12
] Currently, the "Saturday Evening Post" is published six times a year by the "Benjamin Franklin Literary & Medical Society", a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Popular culture

* Steve Allen wrote a song inspired by the magazine's title.


(from the purchase by Curtis, 1898)
* William George Jordan (1898-1899)
* George Horace Lorimer (1899-1937)
* Wesley Winans Stout (1937-1942)
* Ben Hibbs (1942-1962)
* Robert Fuoss (1962)
* Robert Sherrod (1962)
* Clay Blair, Jr. (1962-1964)
* William A. Emerson, Jr. (1965-1969)
* Beurt SerVaas (1971-1975)
* Cory SerVaas, M.D. (1975-present)

Cover gallery


* [ Upson, William Hazlett. "We’re Going to Ruin the Lower Classes." "The Saturday Evening Post", January 24, 1931 (full text).]

ee also

* Cyrus Curtis
* John Philip Falter
* Garet Garrett
* "Ladies' Home Journal"
* J. C. Leyendecker
* Norman Rockwell
* John E. Sheridan (illustrator)
* Harry Simmons

;Similar magazines
* "Collier's Weekly"
* "Reader's Digest"
* "Life
* "Look" []


External links

* [ Saturday Evening Post website]
* [ Saturday Evening Post illustration archive]
* [ George Horace Lorimer]
* [ Benjamin Franklin Literary & Medical Society] - current publisher of the Post

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