JB Walker at Cosmopolitan

Cosmopolitan: An Illustrated Magazine

Cosmopolitan magazine started in 1886 as a family magazine, but two years later its founding company was failing.1 John Brisben Walker acquired the magazine in 1889 and reinvented it. Notable authors, both of fiction and nonfiction, became associated with the magazine, from A. Conan Doyle to Mark Twain. By 1891, at least, Walker was also contributing articles he had written. The following compilation is incomplete, but will be updated as new information becomes available. Walker sold the magazine to Hearst Co. in 1905, and returned to Colorado to launch an entrepreneurial career in a different field.

The Cosmopolitan readers knew in Walker’s day bore no resemblance to the version seen during the latter half of the 20th century. At a time when the “quality magazines” (Century, Harper’s Monthly, and Scribner’s) were charging 25 to 35 cents per issue, Walker turned to advertising as a primary source of revenue, keeping prices at a low 10 to 15 cents and retaining intelligent, thoughtful readers by a combination of culture, political education, and personality and human interest in content. By 1897, its circulation reached 300,000.2

During Walker’s reign as editor, the magazine itself was from 110 to 130 numbered pages long, with unnumbered ad pages front and back. The table of contents of each issue appears on the front cover, ads and subscription terms on the back. Cover price was 10 or 15 cents. Two volumes of six monthly issues each were published annually. Even numbered volumes ran from November of each year through April of the next, and odd numbered volumes from May through October. During his editorial management, Walker added new features, including a "Men, Women and Events" department (announced in March 1900) and "Great Events: Humor and Satire By the World’s Most Famous Cartoonists." To celebrate his fifth year in publishing in 1893, he wrote a lengthy article on how the magazine was created. He occasionally printed an editorial, so labeled, at the front. Some stories were serialized.

Articles by John Brisben Walker

The range of subject matter listed below offers a glimpse of an extraordinary Renaissance man whose curiosity and agile mind led him to delve into politics, agriculture, aviation, military concerns, and even biography and fiction. Articles below were all published in Cosmopolitan: An Illustrated Magazine. We’ll provide more information and samples of Walker’s writing from available articles in the future.

Date published Title Volume, Issue Pages
Nov 1891 Alfalfa Farming at the Foot of the Rocky Mountains Vol. XII, No. 1 p 85-94
1892 The Homestead Object Lesson Vol. XII 4 pages
Mar 1892 The Problem of Aerial Navigation Vol. XII, No. 5 p 624-630
Jan 1893 The Making of an Illustrated Magazine Vol. XIV, No. 3 p 259-272
May 1895 The Great Railway Systems of the United States: Sixteen Hundred Miles of Mountain Railways (Denver & Rio Grande Railway) Vol. XIX, No. 1 p 17-28
1895-96 Some Speculations Regarding Rapid Transit Vol. XX
Jan 1896 A Silver Question and Its Answer Vol. XX, No. 3 p 259-272
June 1896 In Case of War With England-What? Vol. XXI, No. 2 p 149-151
1898 Importance of Mechanical Devices in Warfare Vol. XXV
1898 Autobiography of Napoleon (part 1) Vol. XXV
1898-99 Autobiography of Napoleon (part 2) Vol. XXVI
1898-99 Building of an Empire (part 1) Vol. XXVI
1899 Building of an Empire (part 2) Vol. XXVII
1899 Plan for Organization of a National Clearing-house Bank Vol. XXVII
1899-1900 Motive for Labor Vol. XXVIII
Sept 1901 Great Inventions Since the World’s Fair Vol. XXXI, No. 5 p 556-560
Sept 1901 The City of the Future-a Prophecy Vol. XXXI, No. 5 p 473-475
Nov 1901 A Working Man in the Presidency Vol. XXXII, No. 1 p 25-27
Nov 1901 The Story of Theodore Roosevelt’s Life Vol. XXXII, No. 1 p 28-29
1902 Capital and Labor Commission Vol. XXXII
1902 A Clever Emperor and Confederation of Nations Vol. XXXII
1903 The Food Laboratory: the Third of the Series How to Administer a Household 2 pages
1903 A Method of Equitable Taxation for Putting Into Equitable Operation and the General Plan of Taxation Now Accepted in New York and Other States 3 pages
Feb 1904 The Conquest of Asia by Russia(fiction) Vol. XXXVI, No. 4 p 722-726
Apr 1905 A Modern “Swiss Family Robinson” (fiction) Vol. XXXVIII, No. 6 p 381-386
Apr 1905 How Long Do You Propose to Live? (editorial) Vol. XXXVIII, No. 6 p 607-608?

1Cosmopolitan magazine Wikipedia entry

2Dream of a New Social Order: Popular Magazines in America 1893-1914. 1994. Schneirov, Matthew. Columbia University Press. 357 p.

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