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This is an old revision of MenckenHL made by TpnEditor on 2006-04-22 16:22:44.

 

H.L. Mencken


Firebrand journalist and author Henry Louis Mencken co-founded one of the pulp eraís classic magazines, Black Mask, as well as Parisienne Monthly Magazine and Saucy Stories. This trio of pulps were created solely to support his slick paper Smart Set, a faultering attempt to replicate the success of the Atlantic Monthly.

Background

H.L. Mencken
H.L. Mencken
Born: Sept. 12, 1880
Died: Jan. 29, 1956
Though best remembered as a social commentator, wit and journalist, H.L. Mencken was pursuaded in 1914 to take over the editorship with George Jean Nathan of Smart Set, a slick magazine that had been financially troubled and losing readers for several years. The co-editors assumed part ownership of the Smart Set Co. and struggled on with the magazine.

By 1915, Mencken and Nathan had an abundance of manuscripts and decided to use in a pulp paper magazine those that did not make the grade for Smart Set. The pair founded a magazine for ìthe morons,î Parisienne Monthly Magazine, a 15-cent pulp with stories and novelettes set in the European city. Mencken and Nathan followed Parisienne with Saucy Stories in 1916, and four years later, in 1920, with Black Mask.

Clearly, Mencken detested the low-brow pulps, including his own, despite them being moneymaking engines that helped support his literary magazine aspirations. He referred to them as the ìlouse magazinesî and discribed the crime fiction published in Black Mask as ìhomicidal fiction.î

Less than a year after Black Maskís debut, Mencken and Nathan got out of the pulp field by selling the three magazines to their partners in the Smart Set Co. for $60,000 ó $20,000 for Parisienne Monthly Magazine and Saucy Stories, and $40,000 for Black Mask. Mencken described the income from the sale as sufficient ìto relieve Nathan and me from want permanently.î

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