Blakely Hall established the Metropolitan Magazine in 1895. At first its chief attraction was the inclusion of pictures of attractive women. However, in 1898 the magazine became more serious and began publishing articles by Rudyard Kipling, Joseph Conrad and Booth Tarkington.
Harry Payne Whitney purchased the Metropolitan Magazine in 1912 and installed the socialist and member of the Fabian Society, H. J. Wigham, as editor. He began publishing the work of George Bernard Shaw, Walter Lippmann, Morris Hillquit and Theodore Dreiser. Later, Carl Hovey became the editor of the magazine.
In December 1913, Hovey sent John Reed to Mexico to report on Pancho Villa and his army. Bertram D. Wolfe has argued: "To Reed the Mexican Revolution was a pageant, a succession of adventures, a delight to the eye, a chance to discover that he was not afraid of bullets. His reports overflow with life and movement: simple, savage men, capricious cruelty, warm comradeship, splashes of color, bits of song, fragments of social and political dreams, personal peril, gay humor, reckless daring... Reed's mingling of personal adventure with camera-eye close-ups lighted by a poet's vision made superb reporting."
Carl Hovey was very impressed with Reed's work in Mexico. After he received one of his articles he wired Reed: "Nothing finer could have been written. We are absolutely delighted with your stuff. Reed's reports were later collected together and published as Insurgent Mexico.
Reed also published articles in Metropolitan Magazine on striking coal miners in Colorado and reported the First World War in Europe.
The Metropolitan had been bought in 1912 by the multimillionaire Harry Payne Whitney. It had been a popular fiction magazine, numbering among its contributors Rudyard Kipling, Joseph Conrad, and Booth Tarkington. Whitney installed the British Fabian Socialist, H. J. Wigham, as editor, and Kipling, Conrad, and Tarkington gave way to George Bernard Shaw, Walter Lippmann, and Morris Hilquit. An intellectual New Englander named Carl Hovey had become the Metropolitan's editor when Steffens sent Reed to the magazine. Hovey, who had studied with Charles Copeland at Harvard, was married to a Russian-born woman named Sonia Levien, who was a lawyer and later became a Hollywood screen writer. Both Hoveys took quickly to Reed, and the assignment was settled.
Villa has two wives, one a patient, simple woman who was with him during all his years of outlawry, who lives in El Paso, and the other a cat-like, slender young girl, who is the mistress of his house in Chihuahua. He is perfectly open about it, though lately the educated, conventional Mexicans who have been gathering about him in ever-increasing numbers have tried to hush up the fact. Among the peons it is not only not unusual but customary to have more than one mate.
One hears a great many stories of Villa's violating women. I asked him if that were true. He pulled his mustache and stared at me for a minute with an inscrutable expression. "I never take the trouble to deny such stories," he said. "They say I am a bandit, too. Well, you know my history. But tell me, have you ever met a husband, father or brother of any woman, that I have violated?" He paused. "Or even a witness?"
"It is fascinating to watch him discover new ideas. Remember that he is absolutely ignorant of the troubles and confusions and readjustments of modern civilization. "Socialism," he said once, when I wanted to know what he thought of it, "Socialism - is it a thing? I only see it in books, and I do not read much." Once I asked him if women would vote in the new Republic. He was sprawled out on his bed with his coat unbuttoned. "Why, I don't think so," he said, startled, suddenly sitting up. "What do you mean-vote? Do you mean elect a government and make laws?" I said I did and that women already were doing it in the United States. "Well," he said, scratching his head, "if they do it up there I don't see that they shouldn't do it down here." The idea seemed to amuse him enormously. He rolled it over and over in his mind, looking at me and away again. "It may be as you say," he said, "but I have never thought about it. Women seem to me to be things to protect, to love. They have no sternness of mind. They can't consider anything for its right or wrong. They are full of pity and softness. "Why," he said, "a woman would not give an order to execute a traitor."