The Gentleman's Magazine  

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"His diagnosis of the evils of his time is as searching as it is fearless, and yet exhibiting neither the pessimism of Ibsen nor the moral squalor of Zola, with his gospel of sordid facts unrelieved by any spiritual aspiration." --The Gentleman's Magazine, 1894

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The Gentleman's Magazine was founded in London, England, by Edward Cave in January, 1731. The original complete title was The Gentleman's Magazine: or, Trader's monthly intelligencer. Cave's innovation was to create a monthly digest of news and commentary on any topic the educated public might be interested in, from commodity prices to Latin poetry. It carried original content from a stable of regular contributors, as well as extensive quotes and extracts from other periodicals and books. Cave, who edited The Gentleman's Magazine under the pen name "Sylvanus Urban", was the first to use the term "magazine" (meaning "storehouse") for a periodical. The iconic illustration of St John's Gate on the front of each issue (occasionally updated over the years) depicted Cave's home, in effect, the magazine's 'office'.

Prior to the founding of The Gentleman's Magazine, there had been specialized journals, but no such wide-ranging publication (though there had been attempts, such as The Gentleman's Journal, which was edited by Peter Motteux and ran from 1692 to 1694).

Samuel Johnson's first regular employment as a writer was with The Gentleman's Magazine. During a time when parliamentary reporting was banned, Johnson regularly contributed parliamentary reports as "Debates of the Senate of Magna Lilliputia". Though they reflected the positions of the participants, the words of the debates were mostly Johnson's own. The name Columbia, a poetic name for America coined by Johnson, first appears in a 1738 weekly publication of the debates of the British Parliament in the Magazine.

Cave, a skilled businessman, developed an extensive distribution system for The Gentleman's Magazine. It was read throughout the English-speaking world, and continued to flourish through the eighteenth century and much of the nineteenth, latter under a series of different editors and publishers. It went into decline in the later nineteenth century, and finally ceased general publication in September 1907. However, issues consisting of four pages each were printed in very small editions between late 1907 and 1922 in order to keep the title formally 'in print'.


  • 1731-1735 The Gentleman's Magazine or Monthly Intelligencer
  • 1736-1833 The Gentleman's Magazine and Historical Chronicle
  • 1834-1856 (June) New Series: The Gentleman's Magazine
  • 1856 (July)-1868 (May) New Series: The Gentleman's Magazine and Historical Review
  • 1868 (June)-1922 Entirely New Series: The Gentleman's Magazine

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