Friday, April 03, 2009

The Talk of the Town (2/21/07)

If Eustace Tilly himself had been searching for the unlikeliest person to edit a magazine about sophistication in New York, he couldn't have done much better than Harold Ross. Despite being a high-school dropout, Ross fell in with the Algonquin Round Table -- the group that defined American wit in the 1920s -- and used their talents to create a magazine that was "not edited for the old lady in Dubuque." Ross was the brain of The New Yorker, and its heart was E.B. White, whose clean prose informed the magazine's style, and whose influence spread far beyond Manhattan. Since its first issue, dated February 21, 1925, virtually every major American writer, photographer, or cartoonist -- James Thurber, John Updike, Dorothy Parker, John Hersey, Ring Lardner, Richard Avedon, R. Crumb, and Truman Capote, and scores of others -- has appeared in the magazine's pages. So, on your 81st birthday, Mr. Tilley, we say to you anything except "the hell with it."

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