Charles Morton (editor)

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Charles Walton Morton, Jr. (1899–1967) was a writer, journalist, and humorist who served as the Associate Editor of The Atlantic Monthly for 26 years (1941–67). Morton also wrote several books about publishing, relationships, and other subjects.[1] During his career, Morton achieved notoriety as one of the most noted humorists in the U.S.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Morton was born in Omaha, Nebraska on February 10, 1899. He graduated from Morristown School in Morristown, New Jersey (now Morristown-Beard School) in 1916.[3] During his time at the school, Morton served as an editor of The Morristonian, the school newspaper.[4] After high school, Morton attended Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts for two years.

Journalism and government service[edit]

Morton worked as a journalist in New York and Boston between 1929 and 1941. He wrote for the Boston Evening Transcript, a daily newspaper, and then The New Yorker magazine before joining The Atlantic Monthly. During his career, Morton worked for the Social Security Board and the U.S. Information Agency, a government agency that facilitated public diplomacy.[1]

Elongated yellow-fruit writing[edit]

Time Magazine ran a 1953 story titled "The Press: Elongated Fruit," which examined Morton's use of the term "the elongated yellow-fruit school of writing".[5] Morton coined the term to characterize writing styles that use inelegant variants for second reference of a word. The phrase "elongated, yellow fruit" relates to a second reference for bananas. In his book A Slight Sense of Outrage, Morton states that this type of faulty usage "lies somewhere between the cliché and the 'fine writing' so dreaded by teachers of English composition.... It does bespeak an author who wishes to sound witty, knowledgeable, and versatile.... It can also bespeak an author who is merely pompous."[6]

Garner's Modern American Usage describes several examples of Morton's labeling of writing as "the elongated yellow-fruit school of writing":


Morton married Mildred Wadleigh Penick. They had two children Patricia (deceased), Cynthia


Dahl's Boston (1946)

Dahl's Brave New World (1947)

Frankly, George Or Letters to a Publisher From An Author Whose First Book Is About To Appear (1951)

How To Protect Yourself Against Women – And Other Vicissitudes (1951)

A Slight Sense of Outrage (1955)

It Has Its Charms (1966)


  1. ^ a b "Charles Morton, Writer, 68, Dead". The New York Times. September 24, 1967. 
  2. ^ "Atlantic Editor Charles Morton". The Boston Globe. 24 September 1967. p. 79. 
  3. ^ Rae, John (2002). Morristown: A Military Headquarters of the American Revolution. 
  4. ^ Morton, Charles W. (1966). It Has Its Charms. Lippincott. p. 109.  "I had been the editor of the school paper, The Morristonian, and I had written a couple of burlesques that the Williams Magazine, The Purple Cow, published in the fall of 1916, but I had made no attempt to write for the next ten years after that."
  5. ^ "The Press: Elongated Fruit". Time Magazine. 10 August 1953. 
  6. ^ Morton, Charles w. (1955). A Slight Sense of Outrage. 
  7. ^ Garner, Bryan (2009). Garner's Modern American Usage.