North American Review

North American Review (NAR) was the first literary magazine in the United States. It was founded in Boston in 1815 by journalist Nathan Hale and others. It was published continuously until 1940, after which it was inactive until revived at Cornell College (Iowa) under Robert Dana in 1964. Since 1968, the University of Northern Iowa (Cedar Falls) has been home to the publication.[1] Nineteenth-century archives are freely available via Cornell University's Making of America.

North American Review
DisciplineLiterary journal
Edited byRachel Morgan, J. D. Schraffenberger, Grant Tracey, Brooke Wonders, and Brian Pals
Publication details
History1815-1940, 1964-present
Standard abbreviations
ISO 4N. Am. Rev.


NAR's first editor, William Tudor, and other founders had been members of Boston's Anthology Club, and launched North American Review to foster a genuine American culture. In its first few years NAR published poetry, fiction, and miscellaneous essays on a bimonthly schedule, but in 1820, it became a quarterly, with more focused contents intent on improving society and on elevating culture. NAR promoted the improvement of public education and administration, with reforms in secondary schools, sound professional training of doctors and lawyers, rehabilitation of prisoners at the state penitentiary, and government by educated experts.

NAR's editors and contributors included several literary and political New Englanders as John Adams, George Bancroft, Nathaniel Bowditch, William Cullen Bryant, Lewis Cass, Edward T. Channing, Caleb Cushing, Richard Henry Dana, Sr., Alexander Hill Everett, Edward Everett, John Lothrop Motley, Jared Sparks, George Ticknor, Gulian C. Verplanck, and Daniel Webster.

Between 1862 and 1872, its co-editors were James Russell Lowell and Charles Eliot Norton.[2] Henry Adams also later served as an editor. Although the Review did not often publish fiction, it serialized The Ambassadors by Henry James.

In 1876, Allen Thorndike Rice purchased NAR for $3000 and made himself the editor. He continued as editor until his death in 1889.[3] He died unexpectedly in 1889 and left the magazine to Lloyd Bryce in his will. Bryce was the owner and editor from 1889 to 1896. In 1899, George Harvey (former managing editor of the New York World) purchased NAR, made himself editor and kept control until 1926, except for 1921-1924, when he was United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom. In Fall 1926, NAR was sold to Walter Butler Mahony. Joseph Hilton Smyth purchased NAR from Mahony in September 1938, but publication was suspended in 1940, when Smyth was found to be a Japanese spy, pleading guilty in 1942 to receiving $125,000 from 1938 to 1941 to establish or buy publications for the purpose of spreading Japanese propaganda.[4]

Poet Robert Dana rescued NAR in 1964, resuming its operation and serving as editor-in-chief from 1964 to 1968. During these years, NAR was based at Cornell College, where Dana taught at the time.[1] To revive NAR, Dana successfully negotiated arrangements with Claiborne Pell, at the time Senator from Rhode Island, who asserted that he had the rights to the magazine.

NAR was moved to the University of Northern Iowa from Cornell College in 1968 under the editor Robley Wilson. Since then, its literary contributors have included Lee K. Abbott, Margaret Atwood, Marvin Bell, Vance Bourjaily, Raymond Carver, Eldridge Cleaver, Guy Davenport, Gary Gildner, David Hellerstein, George V. Higgins, Donald Justice, Yosef Komunyakaa, Barry Lopez, Jack Miles, Joyce Carol Oates, David Rabe, Lynne Sharon Schwartz, Anthony Storr, Kurt Vonnegut, and many others. Grant Tracey and Vince Gotera were co-editors beginning in 2000. The magazine's current editors are Rachel Morgan, J. D. Schraffenberger, Grant Tracey, and Brooke Wonders. The managing editor is Brian Pals.

In 2015 it celebrated the bicentennial of its founding with a conference in Cedar Falls, and April 19-21, 2019, the magazine will host another conference to celebrate fifty years on the University of Northern Iowa campus.[5]


In the last twenty years of the old millennium, North American Review won the National Magazine Award for Fiction twice and was a finalist for that award five times; placed stories in the annual O. Henry anthologies four times, in the Pushcart Prize annuals nine times, in Best American Short Stories eight times, in Best American Sports Writing and Best American Travel Writing. As for graphics, illustrations from NAR have been chosen for inclusion in the Communication Arts' Annuals, the Society of Publication Designers' Annual, Print's Regional Design Annuals, the Society of Illustrators exhibitions, and have twice won the Eddie and Ozzie Award for best cover among consumer magazines with a circulation of less than 100,000.

Recent contributors

Art: Clay Rodery, Ethan Bifano, Jeannie Phan, Justin Perkins, Catherine Brun, Kurt McRobert, Brianne Burnell, Anthony Tremmaglia

Fiction: Vince Sgambati, Jacob M. Appel, Gary Fincke, Laura Gabel-Hartman, Sam Katz, Brian Hyer, Teresa Milbrodt, Allegra Hyde, Jason Lee Brown, Gary Gildner, Philip Walford

Non-Fiction: James Cihlar, Andrew D. Cohen, Brian Jay Stanley, Toni Mirosevich, Sheila Benson

Poetry: Peter Cooley, Dan O'Brien, Sara McWhorter, Elizabeth Tornes, Chris Joyner, Jude Brancheau, Allen Baden, Adrian C. Louis, Michael Gessner, Adrian Blevins, Grace Bauer, Mitchell Untch, Bruce McRae, Lauren Schmidt, Danielle Cadena Deulen, Allison Hedge Coke, Richard Katrovas, Linwood Rumney, George Kalamaras, Ed Coletti, Brian Larsen, Daniel Lusk, Martha Silano, Natalia Toledo, Gaylord Brewer, Brian Swann, Craig Beaven, Lindsay Stuart Hill, Jody Bolz, Justin Jannise, Christie Ann Reynolds, Allison Joseph, Shelley Puhak, Jessica Morey-Collins, Wally Swist, William Stratton, Chad Prevost, Elinor Benedict, Gigi Marks, Patricia Clark, Elizabeth Johnson, Joe Weil, Arseny Tarkovsky, Martin Ott, Kay Cosgrove, Alison Swan, Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie, James Grabill, Charlotte Pence, Curtis Bauer


  1. "The Magazine's Historic Past". North American Review. Cedar Falls, Iowa: University of Northern Iowa. Retrieved February 9, 2009.
  2. Sullivan, Wilson. New England Men of Letters. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1972: 218. ISBN 0-02-788680-8
  3. pp.405-406 in American National Biography, Vol. 18, Oxford University Press (c)1999
  5. Melody Parker, "Bicentennial celebration: North American Review, the nation's oldest literary journal to host conference in Cedar Falls", WCF Courier, May 31, 2015 (retrieved 7 June 2015)

Further reading

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