HARPER'S Magazine

INDEX of Theme Pages:


Publication Dates: 1850 - Present

Publication Info:

An American journal of literature, politics, culture, and the arts published continuously from 1850, Harper's Magazine was the creation of the highly successful book-publishing firm Harper & Brothers. Although the earliest issues contained mostly material that had already been published in England, the magazine soon began to print the work of American artists and writers and gain in prominence on literary and intellectual fronts.

Among the notable American writers were Horace Greeley, Horatio Alger, Stephen A. Douglas, Winslow Homer, Mark Twain, Frederic Remington, Theodore Dreiser, John Muir, Booth Tarkington, Henry James, and Jack London.

The initial press run of 7,500 copies had sold out immediately, and cirulation continued to grow rapidly, reaching 50,000 within the first six months.

The magazine became the vanguard of the literati, promoting important authors, such as the publication of Herman Melville's new novel Moby-Dick. It was also at he the forefront of technology and news carrying stories like the laying of the first trans-Atlantic cable, reports of Thomas Edison's latest inventions and progress on issues such as women's suffrage.

The magazine also proved to be as precocious as some of its authors, publishing works by Woodrow Wilson and Winston Churchill before either man became a political leader.

Through the years, politics and warfare often took center stage - Theodore Roosevelt wrote for Harper's, as did Henry L. Stimson when he defended the bombing of Hiroshima. In the 1970s, Harper's Magazine was the first to carry Seymour Hersh's account of the My Lai massacre and devoted an entire issue to Norman Mailer's "The Prisoner of Sex."

The magazine's format has been revamped through the years. Its general appearance has evolved from simple mono-colored covers to a more modern look, and ownership of the publication has changed hands a number of times. In 1962, Harper & Brothers merged with Row, Peterson, & Company to become Harper & Row (now HarperCollins). Some years later the magazine became a separate corporation and a division of the Minneapolis Star and Tribune Company.

In 1980, the Harper's Magazine Foundation was founded with funding from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Atlantic Richfield Company. The foundation has operated the business ever since.

Marking the publication's sesquicentennial in 2000, the foundation published "An American Album: One Hundred and Fifty Years of Harper's Magazine," a 712-page cloth-bound illustrated anthology of American life culled from the pages of the nation's oldest continuously published monthly magazine.

Through the years Harper's has received eleven National Magazine Awards, in addition to many other journalistic and literary honors.

Harper's continues to publish today. More information can be found at the magazine's web site - harpers.org.


    Consecutive run estimates (ranges from good to mint):
Key Issues:

Volume 1, #1: 1850