Short Stories (magazine)

Short Stories was an American fiction magazine that existed between 1890 and 1959.

Short Stories
CategoriesPulp magazine
First issue1890 (1890)
Final issue1959
CountryUnited States

Origin of Short Stories

Short Stories began its existence as a literary periodical, carrying work by Rudyard Kipling, Émile Zola, Bret Harte, Ivan Turgenev and Anna Katharine Green.[1] The magazine advertised itself with the slogan "Twenty-Five Stories for Twenty-Five Cents". After a few years, Short Stories became dominated by reprinted fiction. The magazine was sold in 1904 and eventually purchased by Doubleday, Page and Company, which in 1910 transformed Short Stories into a "quality pulp". The magazine's new editor, Harry E. Maule (1886-1971) placed an emphasis on Short Stories carrying well-written fiction; pulp magazine historian Robert Sampson states "For Short Stories, like Adventure and Blue Book to follow, rose above the expedient prose of rival magazines like ivory towers thrusting up from swampland".[1] By 1916, Maule's Short Stories was selling 95,000 copies a month.[2]

Short Stories was initially known for publishing crime fiction by authors including Max Pemberton, Thomas W. Hanshew and Hugh Pendexter.[1]

Pulp Era

In the 1920s and 1930s, however, Short Stories was best known as a publisher of Western stories, with many of the best-known Western fiction writers such as Clarence E. Mulford, Max Brand, Luke Short, Ernest Haycox, W. C. Tuttle, James B. Hendryx, Barry Scobee,[3] Bertrand William Sinclair and B. M. Bower appearing in its pages.[4] Short Stories also carried adventure fiction, such as "Northern" tales set in the Yukon,and adventures in the South Seas or Sub-Saharan Africa. The magazine's writers in the adventure genre included George Allan England, H. Bedford-Jones, Gordon MacCreagh, J. Allan Dunn, L. Patrick Greene (stories set in Africa), William Wirt (who chronicled the exploits of a mercenary, Jimmie Cordie) and George F. Worts (who wrote about South Sea adventures).[5] Thriller writers Edgar Wallace and Sax Rohmer had stories in the magazine in this period, as did Vincent Starrett, who wrote about private investigator Jimmie Lavender for Short Stories.[6] Albert Richard Wetjen contributed sea stories to the magazine.[7] Short Stories also published a large number of adventure stories featuring the Foreign Legion. The magazine's practitioners in this sub-genre included J.D. Newsom (with humorous stories about Legionnaires Mike Curialo and Albert Withers), Georges Surdez, Robert Carse and Bob Du Soe.[7] Some of the serials published in Short Stories were later published in hardback by Doubleday. These included Jimmie Dale and the Blue Envelope Murder, by Frank L. Packard.[7]

The magazine adopted the symbol of a red sun on its covers; nearly all the issues of the pulp-era Short Stories featured a red sun as part of its cover illustration.[7] Circulation for Short Stories rose to 174,899 copies in 1922.[8]

In addition to fiction, Maule also created "The Story Teller's Circle", a forum for readers to write in and discuss issues (similar to "The Camp-Fire" department in Adventure magazine).[4] Edgar Franklin Wittmack,[9] Remington Schuyler and Nick Eggenhofer all painted several covers for Short Stories.

Maule edited the magazine for almost two decades. Between 1929 and 1932 Roy De S. Horn served as editor; Maule returned as editor in 1932.[3] During his tenure, De Horn created "Adventurers All", a column where writers and readers of Short Stories related true-life adventures they had experienced.[7] In 1936, Maule was succeeded in the role of editor by Dorothy McIlwraith. The next year, Doubleday sold the publication to a new owner, Short Stories, Inc. (McIlwraith would also edit Weird Tales when Short Stories, Inc. purchased that magazine).[5][10] During the 1940s, writers such as Frank Gruber, Arthur O. Friel, Theodore Roscoe and Carl Jacobi[11] appeared in Short Stories.

A British edition of Short Stories was published between 1920 and 1959; it merged with the UK version of the West magazine in 1954 and was known as Short Stories Incorporating West.[12] The September 1950 issue of Short Stories carried Robert A. Heinlein's story Destination Moon, an adaptation of the film. This was unusual as Short Stories rarely published science fiction.[4]


Like other pulps, the advent of World War Two, and the arrival of paperbacks and television had a negative effect on Short Stories; circulation figures plummeted and by the 1950s the magazine was dominated by reprints.[5] Despite the efforts of new editor M.D. Gregory and his associate editor, Frank Belknap Long, Short Stories ceased publication in 1959.


  1. Sampson, Robert. Yesterday's Faces : The Solvers. Popular Press, 1987, ISBN 978-0-87972-415-3 (pp. 1-2)
  2. N.W. Ayer and Son's American Newspaper Annual and Directory. Philadelphia : N.W. Ayer and Son, 1916 (p. 637).
  3. Shoemaker, Kurt. "Scobee's Mountain" in Purple Prose magazine, November 1998, (pp. 12-21).
  4. Hulse, Ed. The Blood 'n' Thunder Guide to Collecting Pulps.Murania Press, 2009. ISBN 0-9795955-0-9 (pp. 39-44).
  5. Sampson, Robert. Yesterday's Faces: Dangerous Horizons. Popular Press, 1991. ISBN 978-0-87972-514-3 (pp 86-88).
  6. Sampson, Robert. Yesterday's Faces : The Solvers. (p. 133-34).
  7. Ed Hulse, "Short Stories:The Glory Days of Doubleday's Flagship Pulp", in Hulse, (ed.) Pride of the Pulps: The Great All-Fiction Magazines. Morris Plains, NJ: Murania Press. ISBN 978-1546819264 (pp. 142-183).
  8. N.W. Ayer and Son's American Newspaper Annual and Directory. Philadelphia : N.W. Ayer and Son, 1922 (p. 657).
  9. Robinson, Frank M., and Davidson, Lawrence. Pulp Culture - The Art of Fiction Magazines. Collectors Press, 2007. ISBN 1-933112-30-1 (p.42).
  10. Phil Stephensen-Payne. "Galactic Central". Magazine Lists. Short Stories Retrieved September 6, 2011.
  11. Smith, R. Dixon. Lost in the Rentharpian Hills: spanning the decades with Carl Jacobi Popular Press, 1985. ISBN 978-0-87972-287-6 (p. 25).
  12. Phil Stephensen-Payne. "Galactic Central". Magazine Lists. Short Stories (UK) Retrieved September 6, 2011.
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