Harold Ross
Harold Wallace Ross was an American journalist and founder of The New Yorker
The New Yorker
The New Yorker is an American magazine of reportage, commentary, criticism, essays, fiction, satire, cartoons and poetry published by Condé Nast...

magazine, which he edited from the magazine's inception in 1925 to his death.

Born in Aspen, Colorado
Aspen, Colorado
The City of Aspen is a Home Rule Municipality that is the county seat and the most populous city of Pitkin County, Colorado, United States. The United States Census Bureau estimates that the city population was 5,804 in 2005...

 to George and Ida (Martin) Ross, he was the son of an Irish immigrant and a schoolteacher. When he was eight, the family left Aspen because of the collapse in the price of silver, moving to Redcliff and Silverton, Colorado
Silverton, Colorado
The town of Silverton is a Statutory Town that is the county seat of, and the only incorporated municipality in, San Juan County, Colorado, United States. Silverton is a former silver mining camp, most or all of which is now included in a federally designated National Historic Landmark District,...

, then to Salt Lake City, Utah
Salt Lake City, Utah
Salt Lake City is the capital and the most populous city of the U.S. state of Utah. The name of the city is often shortened to Salt Lake or SLC. With a population of 186,440 as of the 2010 Census, the city lies in the Salt Lake City metropolitan area, which has a total population of 1,124,197...

. In Utah, he worked on the high school paper (The West High Red & Black) and was a stringer for The Salt Lake Tribune
The Salt Lake Tribune
The Salt Lake Tribune is the largest-circulated daily newspaper in the U.S. city of Salt Lake City. It is distributed by Newspaper Agency Corporation, which also distributes the Deseret News. The Tribune — or "Trib," as it is locally known — is currently owned by the Denver-based MediaNews Group....

, the city's leading daily newspaper. The young Ross had journalism in the blood. He dropped out of school at thirteen and ran away to his uncle in Denver
Denver, Colorado
The City and County of Denver is the capital and the most populous city of the U.S. state of Colorado. Denver is a consolidated city-county, located in the South Platte River Valley on the western edge of the High Plains just east of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains...

, where he worked for The Denver Post
The Denver Post
-Ownership:The Post is the flagship newspaper of MediaNews Group Inc., founded in 1983 by William Dean Singleton and Richard Scudder. MediaNews is today one of the nation's largest newspaper chains, publisher of 61 daily newspapers and more than 120 non-daily publications in 13 states. MediaNews...

. Though he returned to his family, he did not return to school, instead getting a job at the Salt Lake Telegram, a smaller afternoon daily newspaper.

By the time he was twenty-five he had worked for at least seven different papers, including the Marysville, California
Marysville, California
Marysville is the county seat of Yuba County, California, United States. The population was 12,072 at the 2010 census, down from 12,268 at the 2000 census. It is included in the Yuba City Metropolitan Statistical Area, often referred to as the Yuba-Sutter Area after the two counties, Yuba and...

 Appeal; the Sacramento
Sacramento, California
Sacramento is the capital city of the U.S. state of California and the county seat of Sacramento County. It is located at the confluence of the Sacramento River and the American River in the northern portion of California's expansive Central Valley. With a population of 466,488 at the 2010 census,...

 Union; the Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

 Star and Herald; the New Orleans
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is a major United States port and the largest city and metropolitan area in the state of Louisiana. The New Orleans metropolitan area has a population of 1,235,650 as of 2009, the 46th largest in the USA. The New Orleans – Metairie – Bogalusa combined statistical area has a population...

 Item; the Atlanta Journal, the Hudson Observer in Hoboken, New Jersey
Hoboken, New Jersey
Hoboken is a city in Hudson County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population was 50,005. The city is part of the New York metropolitan area and contains Hoboken Terminal, a major transportation hub for the region...

; the Brooklyn Eagle
Brooklyn Eagle
The Brooklyn Daily Bulletin began publishing when the original Eagle folded in 1955. In 1996 it merged with a newly revived Brooklyn Daily Eagle, and now publishes a morning paper five days a week under the Brooklyn Daily Eagle name...

; and the San Francisco Call
San Francisco Call
The San Francisco Call was a newspaper that served San Francisco, California. Because of a succession of mergers with other newspapers, the paper variously came to be called The San Francisco Call & Post, the San Francisco Call-Bulletin, San Francisco News-Call Bulletin, and the News-Call Bulletin...


In Atlanta
Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta is the capital and most populous city in the U.S. state of Georgia. According to the 2010 census, Atlanta's population is 420,003. Atlanta is the cultural and economic center of the Atlanta metropolitan area, which is home to 5,268,860 people and is the ninth largest metropolitan area in...

, he covered the murder trial of Leo Frank
Leo Frank
Leo Max Frank was a Jewish-American factory superintendent whose hanging in 1915 by a lynch mob of prominent citizens in Marietta, Georgia drew attention to antisemitism in the United States....

, one of the "trials of the century".

In World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Eighteenth Engineers Railway Regiment. In France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, he edited the regimental journal and went to Paris to work for the Stars and Stripes
Stars and Stripes (newspaper)
Stars and Stripes is a news source that operates from inside the United States Department of Defense but is editorially separate from it. The First Amendment protection which Stars and Stripes enjoys is safeguarded by Congress to whom an independent ombudsman, who serves the readers' interests,...

serving from February 1918 to April 1919. On the Stars and Stripes, he met Alexander Woollcott
Alexander Woollcott
Alexander Humphreys Woollcott was an American critic and commentator for The New Yorker magazine and a member of the Algonquin Round Table....

, Cyrus Baldridge, Franklin Pierce Adams
Franklin Pierce Adams
Franklin Pierce Adams was an American columnist, well known by his initials F.P.A., and wit, best known for his newspaper column, "The Conning Tower", and his appearances as a regular panelist on radio's Information Please...

, and Jane Grant
Jane Grant
Jane Grant was a New York City journalist who co-founded The New Yorker with her first husband, Harold Ross.-Her life:...

, who would become his first wife and helped back The New Yorker
The New Yorker
The New Yorker is an American magazine of reportage, commentary, criticism, essays, fiction, satire, cartoons and poetry published by Condé Nast...


After the war, he returned to New York City and assumed the editorship of a magazine for veterans, The Home Sector. It folded in 1920 and was absorbed by the American Legion Weekly. He then spent a few weeks at Judge, a humor magazine.

The New Yorker

It was while editing these magazines that Ross envisioned a new journal of metropolitan sensibilities and a sophisticated tone. This would be The New Yorker
The New Yorker
The New Yorker is an American magazine of reportage, commentary, criticism, essays, fiction, satire, cartoons and poetry published by Condé Nast...

. The first issue was dated February 21, 1925. It was a partnership between Ross and yeast heir Raoul Fleishmann; they established the F-R Publishing Company to publish it.

Ross was one of the original members of the Algonquin Round Table
Algonquin Round Table
The Algonquin Round Table was a celebrated group of New York City writers, critics, actors and wits. Gathering initially as part of a practical joke, members of "The Vicious Circle", as they dubbed themselves, met for lunch each day at the Algonquin Hotel from 1919 until roughly 1929...

. He used his contacts in "The Vicious Circle" to help get The New Yorker started.

Ross, said to resemble "a dishonest Abe Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

," was a genius at attracting talent to his new publishing venture, featuring writers such as James Thurber
James Thurber
James Grover Thurber was an American author, cartoonist and celebrated wit. Thurber was best known for his cartoons and short stories published in The New Yorker magazine.-Life:...

, E. B. White
E. B. White
Elwyn Brooks White , usually known as E. B. White, was an American writer. A long-time contributor to The New Yorker magazine, he also wrote many famous books for both adults and children, such as the popular Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little, and co-authored a widely used writing guide, The...

, John McNulty
John McNulty
John McNulty was an American newspaperman and short story writer. Many of his stories deal with New York saloon life and its characters....

, Joseph Mitchell
Joseph Mitchell
Joseph Mitchell was an American writer best known for the work he published in The New Yorker. He is known for his carefully written portraits of eccentrics and people on the fringes of society, especially in and around New York City.Mitchell was born on his maternal grandparents' farm near...

, Katharine S. White
Katharine Sergeant Angell White
Katharine Sergeant Angell White was a writer and the fiction editor for The New Yorker magazine from 1925 to 1960...

, S. J. Perelman
S. J. Perelman
Sidney Joseph Perelman, almost always known as S. J. Perelman , was an American humorist, author, and screenwriter. He is best known for his humorous short pieces written over many years for The New Yorker...

, Janet Flanner
Janet Flanner
Janet Flanner was an American writer and journalist who served as the Paris correspondent of The New Yorker magazine from 1925 until she retired in 1975. She wrote under the pen name "Genêt"...

 ("Genet"), Wolcott Gibbs
Wolcott Gibbs
Wolcott Gibbs was an American editor, humorist, theatre critic, playwright and author of short stories, who worked for The New Yorker magazine from 1927 until his death. He is best remembered for his 1936 parody of Time magazine, which skewered the magazine's inverted narrative structure...

, Alexander Woollcott
Alexander Woollcott
Alexander Humphreys Woollcott was an American critic and commentator for The New Yorker magazine and a member of the Algonquin Round Table....

, John O'Hara
John O'Hara
John Henry O'Hara was an American writer. He initially became known for his short stories and later became a best-selling novelist whose works include Appointment in Samarra and BUtterfield 8. He was particularly known for an uncannily accurate ear for dialogue...

, Robert Benchley
Robert Benchley
Robert Charles Benchley was an American humorist best known for his work as a newspaper columnist and film actor...

, and Dorothy Parker
Dorothy Parker
Dorothy Parker was an American poet, short story writer, critic and satirist, best known for her wit, wisecracks, and eye for 20th century urban foibles....


Ross worked extremely long hours and ruined all three of his marriages as a result. He was a careful and conscientious editor who strived to keep his copy clear and concise. One famous query to his writers was "Who he?". Ross believed the only two people everyone in the English-speaking world was familiar with were Harry Houdini
Harry Houdini
Harry Houdini was a Hungarian-born American magician and escapologist, stunt performer, actor and film producer noted for his sensational escape acts...

 and Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes is a fictional detective created by Scottish author and physician Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The fantastic London-based "consulting detective", Holmes is famous for his astute logical reasoning, his ability to take almost any disguise, and his use of forensic science skills to solve...

. He was notorious for overusing commas. Very aware of his limited education, Ross treated Fowler's Modern English Usage
Fowler's Modern English Usage
A Dictionary of Modern English Usage , by Henry Watson Fowler , is a style guide to British English usage, pronunciation, and writing...

 as his bible. He edited every issue of the magazine from the first until his death — a total of 1,399 issues. He would be succeeded as editor by William Shawn
William Shawn
William Shawn was an American magazine editor who edited The New Yorker from 1952 until 1987.-Education and Early Life:...


He died in Boston, Massachusetts during an operation to remove a tumor.

He kept up a voluminous correspondence, preserved at the New York Public Library
New York Public Library
The New York Public Library is the largest public library in North America and is one of the United States' most significant research libraries...


External links

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