By Jeannette Holland Austin
The first magazine issued in Kentucky or the West wasThe Medley, orMonthly Miscellany for the year 1803, edited and published by Daniel Bradford, son of old John Bradford, the editor of The Kentucky Gazette. The Medley lived through the year of 1803, but in January of 1804, Editor Bradford announced that he was compelled (from lack of appreciation) to abandon its publication. The twelve parts were bound for those of the subscribers who cared to have them made into a single volume, and probably not more than two copies are extant to-day.
The Almoner, a religious periodical, the first issue date was Lexington, April, 1814. The period went out of print twelve months later. It was published by Thomas T. Skillman, the pioneer printer. It mostly contains an account of the preacher, John Poage Campbell and his many theological works.
During August of 1819, William Gibbes Hunt, a Harvard man, who later took a degree from Transylvania University, established The Western Review at Lexington. This was the first literary magazine in the West. Hunt was a man of fine tastes, and he had a proper conception of what a magazine should be. He worked hard for two years, but in July of 1821 when he published the first draft of the famous poem of General William O. Butler, " The Boatman's Horn", he discovered that it was time to quit. The four bound volumes of The Western Review apparently survived.
The Literary Pamphleteer magazine was born and died at Paris, Kentucky in 1823. The following year, Thomas T. Skillman established The Western Luminary at Lexington. This was a semi-religious journal, but its publication was shortly suspended.
The Microscope seems to have been the first magazine published at Louisville, it being founded in 1824, but its life was ephemeral.
Under a half a dozen different names, with many lapses between the miles, The Transylvanian, which Professor Thomas Johnson Matthews of Transylvania University established at Lexington in 1829, has survived until the present time. It is now the literary magazine of Transylvania University. Mr. James Lane Allen, Mr. Frank Waller Allen, and one or two other well-known Kentucky writers saw their earliest essays and stories first published in The Transylvanian.
The Lexington Literary Journal published by John Clark twice a week, was founded in 1833.
The Louisville Literary News-Letter, edited by Edmund Flagg and issued by George D. Prentice, was current in the Kentucky metropolis from December, 1838 to November of 1840.
Far and away the most famous literary periodical ever published in Kentucky, was The Western Messenger, founded at Cincinnati in 1835, and removed to Louisville in April of 1836. James Freeman Clarke (1810-1888), the noted Boston Unitarian preacher and author, was editor, publisher and agent of The Messenger while it was in Louisville. Ralph Waldo Emerson first appeared as a poet in the magazine of his friend. His Goodby Proud World, The Rhodora, The Humble Bee, and several of his other now noted poems, were printed for the first time in The Messenger. Clarke also published papers from the hands of Hawthorne, Oliver Wendell Holmes, William Ellery Channing, Margaret Fuller, and nearly all of the writers now grouped as the New England school. He printed a poem of John Keats, which had never been previously published, the manuscript of which was furnished by George Keats, brother of the poet, who lived at Louisville for many years. Clarke later wrote an interesting sketch of George Keats for his magazine. During parts of the four years he published The Messenger at Louisville he had as assistant editors Christopher P. Cranch and Samuel Osgood, now well-known names in American letters. Clarke returned to Boston in 1840 and The Messenger returned to Cincinnati where it was suspended in April of 1841.
Thirteen years after The Western Messenger left Louisville, The Western Literary Magazine, a monthly publication, was begun; and three years later, or in 1856, The Louisville Review, another monthly, was established.
The Southern Bivouac, which was conducted at Louisville for several years by General Basil W. Duke and Richard W. Knott.
The Illustrated Kentuckian, founded at Lexington in 1892.
The Southern Magazine of Louisville, published papers by Mr. Allen, stories by Mr. John Fox, Jr., and several other now well-known writers; and the Midland Review published by Charles J. O'Malley ran for some time.
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