The Smart Set

The monthly magazine, The Smart Set, was founded by William D'Alton Mann in 1900. Under the editorship of Arthur Grissom, the journal concentrated on society news, gossip and literary criticism. However, it soon began to publish the fiction of outstanding writers such as Jack London, Ambrose Bierce, Theodore Dreiser, Floyd Dell and D. H. Lawrence.

The standard of the journal improved under the editorship of H. L. Mencken (1914-23). However, sales remained low and by the time Mencken left in 1923 circulation had fallen to 25,000. The journal ceased publication in May 1929.

Primary Sources

(1) Theodore Dreiser, letter to H. L. Mencken about Smart Set (6th April, 1915)

I wish that I could say whole-heartedly that I liked Smart Set, or that it has shown the kind of progress that I like in the last six months. Under Mann in its profitable social days it had a glittering insincerity and blasé pretense which I rather liked, shallow as it was.

Why publish so many things in one number? Wouldn't it be better to have one or two occasional very fine things than so many trivial ones?

When you started six or seven months ago I was hoping that along with the touch that you now have - just a touch, however, - you would take a tip from Reedy (John Reed) and the Masses, and do the serious critical thing in an enlightening way.