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Godey

Godey

[goh-dee]
Godey, Louis Antoine, 1804-78, American publisher, b. New York City. He was joint founder in 1830 of the Lady's Book (known after his partner's withdrawal as Godey's Lady's Book), the first successful women's magazine. The magazine, which featured articles by famous authors and colored plates of the latest fashions, attained a circulation of 150,000 by 1858 and was considered an arbiter of morals and taste. Godey also owned a publishing house that produced such works as The Young People's Book or Magazine of Useful or Entertaining Knowledge (1841) and the Lady's Musical Library (1842).

Godey's Lady's Book, alternatively known as Godey's Magazine and Lady's Book, was a popular United States magazine among women during the 19th century. In the 1860s Godey's considered itself the "queen of monthlies."

Overview

The magazine was published by Louis A. Godey from Philadelphia for 48 years (18301878) (it was published by someone else after Godey died). Godey intended to take advantage of the popularity of gift books, many of which were marketed specifically to women. Each issue contained poetry, articles, and engravings created by prominent writers and other artists of the time. Sarah Josepha Hale (author of "Mary Had a Little Lamb") was its editor from 1837 until 1877 and only published original, American manuscripts. Although the magazine contained work by both males and females, Hale published three special issues which only included work done by women.

In 1845, Louis Godey began copyrighting each issue of the magazine to prevent other magazine and newspaper editors from pirating their texts. This move, a first in America, was criticized by editors at the Baltimore Saturday Visiter. They called it a "narrowly selfish course" and that Godey would "rue it bitterly.

The magazine was expensive; subscribers paid $3 per year (for comparison, The Saturday Evening Post was only $2 per year). Even so, it was the most popular journal in its day. Under Hale's editorship, the list of subscribers to Godey's reached 150,000. It is best known for the hand-tinted fashion plate that appeared at the start of each issue, which provide a record of the progression of women's dress. Publisher Louis Godey showed off that in 1859, it cost $105,200 to produce the Lady's Book, with the coloring of the fashion-plates costing $8,000. Almost every issue also included an illustration and pattern with measurements for a garment to be sewn at home. A sheet of music for piano provided the latest waltz, polka or galop.

Edgar Allan Poe had one of his earliest short stories "The Visionary" (later renamed "The Assignation") printed in Godey's in 1834. In 1844, he published several other works: "A Tale of the Ragged Mountains" (April), "The Oblong Box" (September), and "Thou Art the Man" (November). Other contributors included Nathaniel Hawthorne, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Washington Irving, James K. Paulding, William Gilmore Simms, and Nathaniel Parker Willis.

Godey sold the magazine in 1877 before his death in 1878.

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