Charles Horace Lorimer

Charles Horace Lorimer

George Horace Lorimer, he son of the Rev. George C. Lorimer and Belle Burford Lorimer, was born in Louisville, Kentucky, on 6th October, 1868. After attending Colby College and Yale University he worked in a meat-packing company and as a retail grocer before turning to reporting.

In 1899 Cyrus H. Curtis, the owner of the Saturday Evening Post hired Lorimer as literary editor. Curtis was so impressed with Lorimer that within a few months he had become editor-in-chief. Curtis gave Lorimer total control over running the Saturday Evening Post. On one occasion Curtis told Lorimer that his wife did not like like an article that was in the journal. Lorimer replied that "I'm not editing the Post for your wife." Curtis made no further comment and soon afterwards increased Lorimer's salary to $250 a week.

Lorimer commissioned top journalist such as Frank Norris, David Graham Phillips, Willa Cather, Jack London and William Stead to write articles for the journal. In 1903 the Saturday Evening Post spent $700 for the rights to publish London's Call of the Wild. Other writers whose stories appeared at this time included Rudyard Kipling, Theodore Dreiser, Sinclair Lewis, G. K. Chesterton, H. G. Wells, Arnold Bennett, John Galsworthy, Gilbert Parker and Stephen Crane.

Lorimer held conservative views and this was reflected in the articles he published in the magazine. Upton Sinclair wrote that the material in the Saturday Evening Post was as "standardized as soda crackers; originality is taboo, new ideas are treason, social sympathy a crime, and the one virtue of man is to produce larger and larger quantities of material things." However, Lorimer did employ the radical David Graham Phillips, who wrote over fifty articles criticizing the rich and power.

By December, 1908, Lorimer was able to announce in the Saturday Evening Post that for the first time the journal was selling over a million copies a week. Under Lorimer's stewardship circulation continued to increase and by the end of 1913 had reached 2,000,000.

In March 1916 Lorimer agreed to meet Norman Rockwell, a 22 year old artist from New York. When Lorimer saw his work he immediately accepted two front covers he had produced and commissioned three more. This was the start of his long-term relationship with the magazine that was to last over 45 years.

The Saturday Evening Post continued to grow in size. On 22nd November, 1919, the first 200 page issue came out. This included 111 pages of advertising, a third of which was for the car industry. Sales also increased and by the 1937 had reached 3,000,000.

George Horace Lorimer continued to edit the newspaper until a year before his death from throat cancer on 22nd October 1937.