Home  »  Volume XVII: American LATER NATIONAL LITERATURE: PART II  »  § 11. Scribner’s Magazine

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21). rn VOLUME XVII. Later National Literature, Part II.

XIX. Later Magazines

§ 11. Scribner’s Magazine

Scribner’s Magazine (always to be distinguished from Scribner’s Monthly), published by Charles Scribner’s Sons and edited continuously until 1914 by Edward L. Burlingame, first appeared in January, 1887. Like Harper’s Magazine it is closely associated with a great publishing house, but unlike Harper’s in the early years it was never a mere “tender to the business.” Though announced by a rather conventional prospectus it began auspiciously. Among the earliest contributors were William James, Robert Louis Stevenson, Sarah Orne Jewett, Thomas Nelson Page, Elizabeth Akers, H. C. Bunner, Andrew Lang, Austin Dobson, Charles Edwin Markham, Edith Thomas, Percival Lowell, A. S. Hill, and Thomas A. Janvier; and it has since kept up the high quality and the diversity of material suggested by these names. Like its chief rivals it maintains an English edition.

It is not easy to characterize the distinctions between Harper’s Magazine, the Century and Scribner’s Magazine as these have existed for the last thirty years. The long editorships of Alden, Gilder, and Burlingame tended, fortunately, to produce stability and to develop an individuality of tone in the periodicals with which these men were respectively associated. The difference is, however, one of tone merely, and is too subtle to be readily analyzed or phrased. As has been said, the Century is distinguished by special attention to history and timely articles, but in fiction, verse, and general essays they are much the same. None has been supported by a clique, party, or school. Most of the greater American writers of the last generation have contributed to at least two, many to all three of these magazines. None of them has had a monopoly of the work of any distinctive and distinguished writer as the Knickerbocker had a monopoly of Irving and the Atlantic had a monopoly of, for example, Holmes.

Before the middle of the nineteenth century the better magazines had mostly refrained from illustrations, except, perhaps, occasional full-page inserted plates. It was for Harper’s Magazine and Scribner’s Monthly to show that pictures in the text were not incompatible with literary dignity and excellence; and they did this by securing the best available literary material, and developing illustrations that were not unworthy to accompany it. In so doing they indirectly and unconsciously helped to prepare the way for the cheaper magazines which sprang into such prominence a few years later.