The Atlantic

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The Atlantic
Editor James Bennet
Editor Title Editor
Frequency 10 per year
Circulation 400,000
Category Literature, political science, foreign affairs
Publisher Atlantic Media Company
First Date 1857
Country United States
Language American English
ISSN 1072-7825

The Atlantic is an American magazine founded (as The Atlantic Monthly) in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1857. It was created as a literary and cultural commentary magazine. It quickly achieved a national reputation, which it held for more than a century. It was important for recognizing and publishing new writers and poets, and encouraging major careers. It published leading writers' commentary on abolition, education, and other major issues in contemporary political affairs.

Its current format is of a general editorial magazine. Focusing on "foreign affairs, politics, and the economy [as well as] cultural trends," it is primarily aimed at a target audience of "thought leaders."[1][2]

The magazine's founders were a group of prominent writers of national reputation, who included Harriet Beecher Stowe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., John Greenleaf Whittier and James Russell Lowell. Lowell was its first editor. The editor-in-chief as of November 2009 is James Bennet. The publisher as of November 2009 is Jay Lauf, who is also a vice-president of Atlantic Media Company.[3]


Format and frequency

Originally a monthly publication, the magazine, subscribed to by 400,000 readers, now publishes ten times a year.[4] It features articles in the fields of political science and foreign affairs, as well as a book review and cultural trends section overseen by literary and national editor Benjamin Schwarz, for which he writes a regular column and has recruited writers that include Christopher Hitchens, Caitlin Flanagan, Sandra Tsing Loh, Clive James, Joseph O'Neill, B.R. Myers, Mona Simpson, Sally Singer, Terry Castle, David Freed, and Natasha Vargas-Cooper. In April 2005, the editors of The Atlantic decided to cease publishing fiction in regular issues in favor of a newsstand-only annual fiction issue edited by longtime staffer C. Michael Curtis, but have since re-instituted the practice.

On January 22, 2008, dropped its subscriber wall and allowed users to freely browse its site, including all past archives.[5] In March 2009, added a food channel edited by Corby Kummer and with contributions from Grant Achatz, Tim and Nina Zagat and Ezekiel "Zeke" Emanuel, among others.

Literary history

First publication of "Battle Hymn of the Republic"

As a leading literary magazine, The Atlantic was the first to publish many significant works and authors. It was the first to publish works by the abolitionists Julia Ward Howe ("Battle Hymn of the Republic" on February 1, 1862), and William Parker's slave narrative, "The Freedman's Story" (in February and March 1866). It published Charles W. Eliot's "The New Education" (a call for practical reform) that resulted in his appointment to presidency of Harvard University in 1869. It published work by Charles Chesnutt before he collected them in The Conjure Woman. The magazine was a point of connection between Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson; having read an article in The Atlantic by Higginson, Dickinson asked him to become her mentor. It was a major venue of publishing for poetry and short stories, contributing to the start of many national literary careers.

Atlantic Monthly office, Ticknor & Fields, 124 Tremont Street, Boston, ca.1868[6]

The magazine published many of the works of Mark Twain, including one that was lost until 2001. Editors recognized major cultural changes and movements. The magazine published Martin Luther King, Jr.'s defense of civil disobedience in "Letter from Birmingham Jail" in August 1963. Among its best-known current writers on society, politics and culture are James Fallows, Mark Bowden, Jeffrey Goldberg, Joshua Green, Megan McArdle, Jeffrey Tayler, Robert D. Kaplan and Ta-Nehisi Coates.

The magazine has also published speculative articles that inspired the development of new technologies. The classic example is the publication of Vannevar Bush's essay "As We May Think" in July 1945. It inspired Douglas Engelbart and later Ted Nelson to develop the modern workstation and hypertext technology.

In addition to its fiction and poetry, the magazine continued publishing high-quality writing on society and politics in the 21st century. In 2005, the magazine won a National Magazine Award for fiction. "A three-part series by William Langewiesche in 2002 on the rebuilding of the World Trade Center generated headlines, as have articles by James Fallows on planning for the Iraq war and reconstruction."[7]

The cover of the original issue of The Atlantic, November 1, 1857


For all but recent decades, The Atlantic was known as a distinctively New England literary magazine (as opposed to Harper's and later The New Yorker, both from New York City). It achieved a national reputation and was important to the careers of many American writers and poets. By its third year, it was published by the famous Boston publishing house of Ticknor and Fields (later to become part of Houghton Mifflin). The magazine was purchased by its then editor, Ellery Sedgwick, during World War I, but remained in Boston.

In 1980, the magazine was acquired by Mortimer Zuckerman, property magnate and founder of Boston Properties, who became its Chairman. On September 27, 1999, ownership of the magazine was transferred from Zuckerman to David G. Bradley, owner of the Beltway news-focused National Journal Group. Bradley had promised that the magazine would stay in Boston for the foreseeable future, as it did for the next five and a half years.

In April 2005, however, the publishers announced that the editorial offices would be moved from its long-time home at 77 North Washington St. in Boston to join the company's advertising and circulation divisions in Washington, D.C.[7] Later in August, Bradley told the New York Observer, cost cutting from the move would amount to a minor $200,000–$300,000 and those savings would be swallowed by severance-related spending. The reason was to create a hub in Washington where the top minds from all of Bradley's publications could collaborate under the Atlantic Media Company umbrella. Few of the Boston staff agreed to relocate. Bradley embarked on an open search for a new editorial staff.[8]

Bradley, who has described himself as "a neocon guy" who came to regret his support for the Iraq invasion,[9] hired James Bennet as editor, who had been the Jerusalem bureau chief for The New York Times. He also hired writers including Jeffrey Goldberg and Andrew Sullivan.[9]

The Atlantic Wire

The Atlantic Wire is a website[10] associated with The Atlantic that aggregates opinion[11] from across the media spectrum and summarizes significant positions in each debate. It publishes The Atlantic 50,[12] a ranked list of the top opinion makers in the media, created using an algorithm based on influence, reach and web engagement.

List of editors


  • Marjorie Pickthall During the 1900s and 1910s, the Anglo-Canadian poet, story writer and essayist was a regular contributor.[13]

See also


  1. The Atlantic. Retrieved on 7 October 2010.
  2. "The Atlantic". Retrieved on 7 October 2010.
  3. "Atlantic masthead". The Atlantic. Retrieved on 7 October 2010.
  4. Kuczynski, Alex (May 7, 2001). "Media Talk: This Summer, It's the Atlantic Not-Monthly". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 October 2010.  [dead link] A change of name was not officially announced when the format first changed from a strict monthly (appearing 12 times a year) to a slightly lower frequency.
  5. "Editors' Note". Retrieved on 7 October 2010.
  6. Boston Directory, 1868.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Feeney, Mark; Mehegan, David (April 15, 2005). "Atlantic, 148-year institution, leaving city: Magazine of Twain, James, Howells heads to capital". The Boston Globe. 
  8. title=Atlantic owner scours country for cinder-editor |newspaper=New York Observer |date=August 29—September 5, 2005
  9. 9.0 9.1 Kurtz, Howard (2007-08-06). "The Atlantic's Owner Ponies Up". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-08-18. 
  10. "The Atlantic Wire". The New York Times. 
  11. Garber, Megan. More on The Atlantic: Wire They Aggregating?. Retrieved on 7 October 2010.
  12. "People". Retrieved on 7 October 2010.
  13. Marjorie Pickthall. Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online. Retrieved on November 1, 2010.
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