Woman's Home Companion
Woman's Home Companion was an American monthly publication, published from 1873 to 1957. It was highly successful, climbing to a circulation peak of more than four million during the 1930s and 1940s.
Among the contributors to the magazine were editor Gene Gauntier, and authors Temple Bailey, Ellis Parker Butler, Rachel Carson, Arthur Guiterman, Shirley Jackson, Anita Loos, Neysa McMein, Kathleen Norris, Sylvia Schur, John Steinbeck, Willa Cather, and P. G. Wodehouse. Notable illustrators included Rolf Armstrong, Władysław T. Benda, Elizabeth Shippen Green, Bessie Pease Gutmann, Rico Lebrun, Neysa McMein, Violet Oakley, Herbert Paus, May Wilson Preston, Olive Rush, Arthur Sarnoff and Frederic Dorr Steele.
The early years
In the pre-history of the magazine, the printer John Crowell (1850-1921), born and educated in Lexington, Kentucky, moved to Springfield, Ohio where he founded the Mast, Crowell and Kirkpatrick publishing firm (which later become the Crowell-Collier Publishing Company). In 1878, Crowell planned to use magazines to sell farm machinery and launched Farm and Fireside, soon discovering that the publication's women's section was increasing in popularity. The firm acquired The Home Companion in 1883, and three years later, they changed the name of that magazine to Ladies Home Companion, with a focus on such features as crochet and embroidery instructions, serialized fiction and articles about the home, cookery, crockery, housekeeping and fashions. In 1897, Mast, Crowell and Kirkpatrick changed the title to Woman's Home Companion, preserving much of the previous content. On January 31, 1906, the Crowell Publishing Company was incorporated during the year it owned and published Woman’s Home Companion and Farm and Fireside and introduced The American Magazine, all edited and printed at the company's Springfield plant.
The Battles Lane years
The most influential editor of Woman's Home Companion was Gertrude Battles Lane (December 21, 1874 - September 25, 1941), editor from 1911 until a few months before her death in 1941. Under her directorship each issue featured two serials, four to five short stories, six specials and many monthly departments. The magazine gained advertising and grew in readership throughout the Battles Lane years.
Occasionally, the Companion's stories were collected in anthologies such as Seven Short Novels from the Woman's Home Companion, edited by Barthold Fles. The magazine also published such non-fiction as John Wister's Woman's Home Companion Garden Book (Collier, 1947). A much-loved, classic collection of American recipes, The Woman's Home Companion Cook Book was compiled by the magazine's staff and edited by Dorothy Kirk in editions printed from 1942 through 1947 by P.F. Collier & Son Corporation, New York. This collection of over 2,600 recipes, with illustrations and homemaking instructions, is still prized by contemporary cooks.
Final years and shutdown
A decade after editor Battles Lane departed, the magazine began a decrease in page count, from 945 pages in 1951 to 544 pages in 1956. The situation at Collier's was comparable. Publisher Crowell-Collier sold The American Magazine, its healthier publication, in order to save Collier's and the Companion. Just before Christmas 1956, both ailing publications folded, and 2740 employees, mostly printing workers, were laid off without severance pay or pensions. Collier's and Woman's Home Companion came to an end January 1957, shortly after the first 1957 issues were distributed.
- "A Preliminary Letter from Jack London Who Is Going Around the World for the Woman's Home Companion," Woman's Home Companion, November 1906.
- Blazing the Trail: The Autobiography of Gene Gauntier, Woman's Home Companion, 1928-29.
- "The Married Woman Goes Back to Work," Woman's Home Companion, October 1956.
- Bormfield, LH: "The Ways We Were: Celebrating 250 Years of Magazine Publishing", Folio: The Magazine for Magazine Management, March 1, 1991.
- Seven Short Novels from the Woman's Home Companion at the Library of Congress
- "Crowell-Collier's Christmas", Time Magazine, December 24, 1956