Lois Long (right), early 1920s.
December 15, 1901|
|Died||July 29, 1974
Saratoga, New York
|Alma mater||Vassar College (B.A., English, 1922)|
|Occupation||Journalist for The New Yorker|
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.
She remained with The New Yorker as a columnist until her husband's death in 1968. She died in 1974.
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.
As soon as she graduated from college, Long moved 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 fame—when Harold Ross hired her for his new magazine, The New Yorker, a sophisticated humor magazine designed to appeal to New York City's elite. Even with that target audience, it (like most new publications) struggled financially in its early days; by May 1925, the astute Ross—looking for ways to increase readership—realized that Long was just the sort of writer who would. In the changing world of the 1920s, any truly modern magazine needed to appeal to both men and women, and the flapper—high-spirited, beautiful, independent, sexually open—did just that.
At 23, Long was paid to review the speakeasies of New York. Her witty, satirical column was called "When Nights are Bold," the title of which changed to "Tables for Two" with the issue for September 12, 1925 and ran until June 7, 1930. In addition to her observations on the patrons of speakeasies, it also included criticism of public officials, such as Manhattan District Attorney Emory R. Buckner, who conducted raids on speakeasies. As the archetypal flapper, Long's columns offered women a glimpse of a glamorous lifestyle where they could enjoy many of the same freedoms and vices as men. This new liberty was prompted by women gaining the right to vote in the United States in 1920 as well as the ways in which they defied the Victorian and Edwardian roles proscribed for women.
Different though they were, she and Ross managed to work together—and knew when, and how, to accommodate the other. Zeitz notes that Long's cubicle was originally on the other side of the building from her assistant, and after growing tired of running back and forth to exchange information, they made the trip on roller skates. In time, Ross grew exasperated and gave them offices next to one another to spare himself and the other journalists such antics.
Throughout her career, Long's work appeared in numerous formats, and in 1928, she was recruited by the editor and screen-writer, Gene Fowler, to contribute, along with Ben Hecht, Ring Lardner, Westbrook Pegler, and Walter Winchell, to The New York Telegraph, and in 1936 Long was, for a short time, under contract to Paramount Pictures.
She was considered the expert on New York's nightlife. Upon her death, William Shawn, editor of The New Yorker said that "Lois Long invented fashion criticism," adding that she "was the first American fashion critic to approach fashion as an art and to criticize women's clothes with independence, intelligence, humor and literary style."
- 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.
- Here At The New Yorker - Brendan Gill - Google Boeken. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2012-09-21.
- CJ (2009). "Lois Long". Vassar Encyclopedia. Vassar College. Retrieved 21 September 2012.
- "The New Yorker Digital Edition : Oct 31, 1925". archives.newyorker.com. Retrieved 2015-12-29.
- "The New Yorker Digital Edition : Oct 24, 1925". archives.newyorker.com. Retrieved 2015-12-30.
- Zeitz, Joshua (2006). Flapper: A Madcap Story of Sex, Style, Celebrity, and the Women Who Made America Modern (1st pbk. ed.). New York: Three Rivers Press. ISBN 978-1-4000-8054-0.
- "Prohibition: Lois Long". Prohibition. PBS.
- "Lois Long - Vassar College Encyclopedia - Vassar College". vcencyclopedia.vassar.edu. Retrieved 2015-12-29.