Home  »  Volume XVI: American EARLY NATIONAL LITERATURE: PART II LATER NATIONAL LITERATURE: PART I  »  § 11. New York: The Knickerbocker Magazine; The Knickerbocker Gallery

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVI. Early National Literature, Part II; Later National Literature, Part I.

XX. Magazines, Annuals, and Gift-books, 1783–1850

§ 11. New York: The Knickerbocker Magazine; The Knickerbocker Gallery

One of the earliest of the popular New York magazines to attain permanency was The Knickerbocker. This first appeared 1 January, 1833, with Charles Fenno Hoffman as editor. Bryant, Paulding, and Sands contributed to the first number. Hoffman was soon succeeded in the editorship by Timothy Flint and Samuel Daly Langtree, and in April, 1834, the magazine passed into the control of Lewis Gaylord Clark, who continued in the editorship until The Knickerbocker was abandoned in 1859. Clark’s own writings in the “Editor’s Table” department show little of the literary skill, taste, and knowledge which have characterized similar work by other editors of American magazines, but in spite of his apparent deficiencies he secured for many years the co-operation of the best writers of the country, and conducted what was in many ways the best general literary magazine. The Knickerbocker Gallery, an elaborate gift book published for the benefit of the editor in 1855, and made up of brief poems and essays donated by contributors to the magazine, contained pieces by Washington Irving, William Cullen Bryant, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, James Russell Lowell, N. P. Willis, Fitz-Greene Halleck, Donald Grant Mitchell, George H. Boker, Bayard Taylor, T. W. Parsons, Epes Sargent, J. G. Saxe, James T. Fields, Charles Godfrey Leland, George William Curtis, Park Benjamin, Rufus W. Griswold, Richard Henry Stoddard, C. F. Briggs, and many more; and among other contributors of the early time were Miss Sedgwick, James Gates Percival, Richard Henry Wilde, Mrs. Sigourney, William Gilmore Simms, J. G. Whittier, Horace Greeley, and James Fenimore Cooper. The importance of The Knickerbocker Magazine may be judged by this list of names; yet in dignity of tone and especially in the quality of its humour it was somewhat below the standard of several of its successors.

New York, like Boston, saw many ambitious attempts at literary periodicals. Only the special student of bibliography and literary biography will follow in detail the amalgamations and kaleidoscopic changes of such ventures as The Atlantic Magazine, The New York Review and Athenæum Magazine, and The New York Literary Gazette, even though the names of Bryant and Sands appear among the editors, and Halleck, Dana, Willis, Longfellow, and Bancroft among the contributors. Of somewhat longer continuance and greater importance was The Democratic Review, already mentioned as having absorbed The Boston Quarterly Review. In 1850, at the very close of the period, Harper’s Magazine was established in New York, and at once took high rank.