9780826219060

The Improbable First Century of Cosmopolitan Magazine

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780826219060

  • ISBN10:

    0826219063

  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2010-11-20
  • Publisher: Univ of Missouri Pr
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Summary

Today, monthly issues ofCosmopolitanmagazine scream out to readers from checkout counters and newsstands. With bright covers and bold, sexy headlines, this famous periodical targets young, single women aspiring to become the quintessential "Cosmogirl."Cosmopolitanis known for its vivacious character and frank, explicit attitude toward sex, yet because of its reputation, many people donrs"t realize that the magazine has undergone many incarnations before its current one, including family literary magazine and muckraking investigative journal, and all are presented inThe Improbable First Century ofCosmopolitanMagazine. The book boasts one particularly impressive contributor: Helen Gurley Brown herself, who rarely grants interviews but spoke and corresponded with James Landers to aid in his research. When launched in 1886,Cosmopolitanwas a family literary magazine that published quality fiction, childrenrs"s stories, and homemaking tips. In 1889 it was rescued from bankruptcy by wealthy entrepreneur John Brisben Walker, who introduced illustrations and attracted writers such as Mark Twain, Willa Cather, and H. G. Wells. Then, when newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst purchasedCosmopolitanin 1905, he turned it into a purveyor of exposeacute; journalism to aid his personal political pursuits. But when Hearst abandoned those ambitions, he changed the magazine in the 1920s back to a fiction periodical featuring leading writers such as Theodore Dreiser, Sinclair Lewis, and William Somerset Maugham. His approach garnered success by the 1930s, but poor editing sunkCosmors"s readership as decades went on. By the mid-1960s executives considered lettingCosmopolitandie, but Helen Gurley Brown, an ambitious and savvy businesswoman, submitted a plan for a dramatic editorial makeover. Gurley Brown took the helm and savedCosmopolitanby publishing articles about topics other womenrs"s magazines avoided. Twenty years later, when the magazine ended its first century,Cosmopolitanwas the profit center of the Hearst Corporation and a culturally significant force in young womenrs"s lives. The Improbable First Century ofCosmopolitanMagazineexplores howCosmopolitansurvived three near-death experiences to become one of the most dynamic and successful magazines of the twentieth century. Landers uses a wealth of primary source materials to place this important magazine in the context of history and depict how it became the cultural touchstone it is today. This book will be of interest not only to modernCosmoaficionadas but also to journalism students, news historians, and anyone interested in publishing.

Author Biography

 

James Landers is Associate Professor in the Department of Journalism and Technical Communications at Colorado State University. He is the author of The Weekly War: Newsmagazines and Vietnam (University of Missouri Press).

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