Geographic Connection to Pennsylvania: Wyncote, Montgomery County
The son of an immigrant, Lorimer worked his way up from a mail room clerk to the editor in chief of The Saturday Evening Post.
George Horace Lorimer was born on October 6, 1867, in Louisville, Kentucky. He briefly attended Yale University, and went on to be editor for the Saturday Evening Post. He soon became president of Curtis Publishing Company. Lorimer had a profound impact on the Saturday Evening Post, and increased the magazine’s sales by millions. He retired shortly after F.D. Roosevelt was elected into office, and died in Wyncote, Pennsylvania, on October 22, 1937.
George Horace Lorimer was born October 6, 1867, in Louisville, Kentucky, to George Claude Lorimer, a minister, and Arabella Burford. He attended Yale University in 1888, but only for one year. In the summer of 1889 Philip Armour, a meatpacker, convinced Lorimer to come work for his company. He accepted the offer and was employed there for several years. During his time at the meatpacking company he met and married a woman by the name of Alma V. Ennis. They wed in 1892 and had four children together, one of whom died shortly after birth.
In 1896, despite his position as a department head at Armour’s company, Lorimer decided to go into the wholesale grocery business for himself. Within a year of this venture his business failed, and he decided to move east to Boston, Massachusetts. From 1897 to 1898 Lorimer took on the role of a newspaper reporter for both the Saturday Evening Post and the Boston Herald. During this time he also briefly attended Colby College. While at the Post, Lorimer learned that Cyrus Curtis, the publisher of Ladies’ Home Journal, had purchased the Saturday Evening Post. He wrote to Curtis requesting a better position, and after a short interview, Curtis hired Lorimer to be the Post’s literary editor. Lorimer relocated to Philadelphia, PA. In March 1899, after only a year of working for Curtis, Lorimer was promoted to a temporary editor position to fill in while Curtis was traveling overseas. Lorimer was dedicated to make his mark as editor. Impressed by Lorimer’s work on the Post in his absence, Curtis appointed Lorimer to editor in chief permanently. A few years later, in 1932, Lorimer became president of the Curtis Publishing Company.
Lorimer made a lot of changes at the Saturday Evening Post. He changed its focus to American business. From small scale farmer to the wealthiest businessman, Lorimer featured articles and stories on self-made men of success. Many of the works he published came from some of the most highly regarded American writers of the time, including Willa Cather, Jack London, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sinclair Lewis, and Stephen Crane. In addition to the aforementioned American writers, Lorimer introduced America to European authors, such as Joseph Conrad and John Galsworthy. While Lorimer did feature works by highly esteemed writers, the most successful work he ever published was one of his own, entitled Letters from a Self-Made Merchant to His Son. The “letters” were written to Pierrepont Graham, a freshman at Harvard University, by his pork-packing father in Chicago, and they contain advice about college and work life, and what a young man should and should not do. It was originally published anonymously, but then later published as a book in 1902 under Lorimer’s own name.
Lorimer had a profound impact on the Post. Weekly sales went up from less than $2,000 when Curtis purchased the magazine, to over $1 million in 1908. Lorimer dedicated the magazine to his views on Republicanism and supported Theodore Roosevelt. It soon became the most popular magazine and most influential weekly publication in the country. Lorimer supported Roosevelt and the war, and his magazine conveyed that to America. The war changed the Post dramatically; Lorimer took sides on controversial political issues, such as curbing immigration and other European notions that Lorimer found himself opposed to.
In March 1916, Lorimer met with (a then unknown) Norman Rockwell to show him proposed cover paintings and sketches. It was Rockwell’s dream to do a Post cover. Lorimer accepted Rockwell’s two finished paintings for covers and also liked his three sketches for future covers. This was the beginning of Rockwell’s long-term relationship with the Post.
In the 1920s, the Post hit its peak with circulation, nearing three million. Issues were selling out, and they were filled with pieces by celebrities, popular fiction writers, wealthy businessmen, and advertisements. The events of the ’20s had a big impact on Lorimer; with the stock market crash, the Depression, and the election of President Franklin Roosevelt, he was left uninspired. He had strong feelings against every aspect of Roosevelt’s New Deal and believed that it opposed all that he grew up valuing in America. Soon after Roosevelt was elected into office for the second time, Lorimer announced in the final issue that he would be retiring in 1936. Lorimer felt that he no longer believed in the country that his magazine had inspired in so many ways.
Lorimer accomplished a lot during his years at the Saturday Evening Post, the Ladies’ Home Journal, and Country Gentleman. He held positions such as director in 1903, vice president and chairman of the executive committee in 1927, president in 1932, and chairman of the board in 1934. His hard work and dedication made a profound impact on the Post, which launched an amazing career. After years of serving the Post, Lorimer retired. He died shortly after in Wyncote, Pennsylvania.
Letters from a Self Made Merchant to His Son. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1902.
Old Gorgon Graham. Boston: Small, Maynard & Co, 1904.
The False Gods. New York: D. Appleton,1906.
Jack Spurlock-Prodigal. New York: Doubleday, Page & Co,1908.
Ladies’ Home Journal
Saturday Evening Post
Cohn, Jan. Creating America: George Horace Lorimer and the Saturday Evening Post. Pittsburgh: U of Pittsburgh P, 1990.