Lois Long

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Lois Long
Lois Long in her office at the New Yorker.jpg
Lois Long (right), early 1920s.
Born (1901-12-15)December 15, 1901
Stamford, Connecticut
Died July 29, 1974(1974-07-29) (aged 72)
Saratoga, New York
Alma mater Vassar College (B.A., English, 1922)
Occupation Journalist for The New Yorker

Lois Bancroft Long (December 15, 1901 - July 29, 1974) was a popular American writer for The New Yorker during the 1920s. She was known under the pseudonym "Lipstick" and as the epitome of a flapper.

She was born on December 15, 1901, in Stamford, Connecticut, the oldest of three children to William J. and Frances Bancroft Long. She graduated from Vassar College. Long had worked at Vogue and Vanity Fair before finding fame at The New Yorker. Harold Ross hired her to write a column on New York nightlife. Under the name of Lipstick, Lois Long chronicled her nightly escapades of drinking, dining, and dancing. She wrote of the decadence of the decade with an air of aplomb, wit, and satire, becoming quite a celebrity. Because her readers did not know who she was, Long often jested in her columns about being a "short squat maiden of forty" or a "kindly, old, bearded gentleman." However, in the announcement of her marriage to The New Yorker cartoonist Peter Arno, she revealed her true identity.

To summarize her lifestyle in her own words: "Tomorrow we may die, so let's get drunk and make love."

She remained with The New Yorker as a columnist until her husband's death in 1968. She died in 1974.[1]


School years[edit]

Lois graduated from Stamford High School and entered Vassar College in 1918. Already displaying a drive for literary excellence and exploration, she graduated from Vassar in 1922 with a degree in English. In college, she began growing herself a modest reputation as a journalist, writing a review of "Vassar Dramatics" to the Poughkeepsie Courier in June of her senior year as well as participating as an editor in 1922's Vassarian. In addition to making herself known through the school's written publications, Long occasionally participated in the institution's theatre program.[2]


As soon as she graduated from college, Long promptly ran off to New York and began making a name for herself.

She started at Vogue and then went to Vanity Fair but Long found her niche - and with it, fame and glory - when Harold Ross snagged her away for his severely suffering new magazine, The New Yorker

The New Yorker
Founded in February 1925, by May The New Yorker was already in a serious rut and Ross was desperate to bring in readership. The goal of the magazine was to become a satirical, upper-class humor magazine that catered to New York City's elite, and Lois Long was just the flavor Ross was looking for. In the changing world of the 1920s, it became important that a modern magazine catered to both men and women professionals, and there was nothing more stylish than the flapper.

At 23, Lois was paid to review the speakeasies of New York. Her column - filled with wit, sarcasm, and satire - was called "When Nights are Bold". As the chief expert of New York's nightlife, all her expenses were paid for by the magazine. About her lifestyle, historian Joshua Zeitz says this:

"Lois Long's columns were laced with a wicked sort of sexual sense of humor. She openly flouted sexual and social conventions. She was a favorite of Harold Ross who was the original editor of The New Yorker and who couldn’t have been more different from Long if he had tried. He was a staid and proper Midwesterner, and she was absolutely a wild woman. She would come into the office at four in the morning, usually inebriated, still in an evening dress and she would, having forgotten the key to her cubicle, she would normally prop herself up on a chair and try to, you know, in stocking feet, jump over the cubicle usually in a dress that was too immodest for Harold Ross’ liking. She was in every sense of the word, both in public and private, the embodiment of the 1920s flapper. And her readers really loved her." [3]

Relationship with Ross
The length of Long's career in and of itself speaks to the quality of her work, but that is not to say that she had the best of relations with her boss. Although there appear to be no written accounts of their disagreements, from time to time descriptions of incidents appear that imply their relationship was strained.

For all intents and purposes, Ross seemed to love Long's work, but her lifestyle made him uncomfortable. From Zeitz's mention of "a dress that was too immodest for Harold Ross' liking"[4] James Thurber's account of their first meeting, it is clear that either Ross was "girl shy" or highly disapproved of Long's lifestyle.

In his book, James Thurber offers this example of Long and Ross' relationship:

Lois [Long, later married to Peter Arno], whom Ross had been lucky enough to steal from Vanity Fair at the very start of the New Yorker, had once been an actress. She knew just how to embarrass the girl-shy editor, and loved to do it.

The first time I ever saw her, the day after I went to work on the magazine, she came into his office with the devil in her eye.

Ross said hastily, "Don't kiss me, Long. This is Thurber. He's going to make some sense out of this place."

Lois Long, alias Lipstick, alias L.L., who could tell more about a man in two minutes than Ross sometimes found out in two years, plainly doubted it.[5]

In addition, in his book, Flappers, Zeitz adds that originally, Long's cubicle was on the other side of the building from her assistant, and although at first they would run back and forth to exchange notes and information, eventually they grew tired of the routine and donned roller skates. Eventually, Ross grew exasperated and gave them offices next to one another to save himself and the other journalists the exasperation.[6]

However strained Long and Ross' relationship may or may not have been, they never let it show to the public. And Long always got her column in before the deadline.



  • Long, Lois (1 January 1949). "On and Off the Avenue: Feminine Fashions". The New Yorker 24 (45): 44–48. 
  • Long, Lois (15 January 1949). "On and Off the Avenue: Feminine Fashions". The New Yorker 24 (47): 64–68. 
  • Long, Lois (4 February 1950). "On and Off the Avenue: Feminine Fashions". The New Yorker 25 (50): 64–68. 


  1. ^ Here At The New Yorker - Brendan Gill - Google Boeken. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2012-09-21. 
  2. ^ CJ (2009). "Lois Long". Vassar Encyclopedia. Vassar College. Retrieved 21 September 2012. 
  3. ^ "Prohibition: Lois Long". Prohibition. PBS. 
  4. ^ Zeitz, Joshua (2006). Flapper a madcap story of sex, style, celebrity, and the women who made America modern (1st pbk. ed. ed.). New York: Three Rivers Press. ISBN 978-1-4000-8054-0. 
  5. ^ Thurber, James (1959). The Years with Ross. Boston: Little, Brown. 
  6. ^ Zeitz, Joshua (2006). Flapper a madcap story of sex, style, celebrity, and the women who made America modern (1st pbk. ed. ed.). New York: Three Rivers Press. ISBN 978-1-4000-8054-0. 

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