Adventure (magazine) - The Hoffman Era

The Hoffman Era

In its first decade, Adventure carried fiction from such notable writers as Rider Haggard, Rafael Sabatini, Baroness Orczy, Damon Runyon and William Hope Hodgson. Subsequently the magazine cultivated its own group of authors (who Hoffman dubbed his "Writers' Brigade") including Talbot Mundy, T.S. Stribling, Arthur O. Friel, brothers Patrick & Terence Casey, J. Allan Dunn, Harold Lamb, Gordon Young, Arthur D. Howden Smith, H. Bedford-Jones, W.C. Tuttle, Gordon MacCreagh, Henry S. Whitehead, Hugh Pendexter, and L. Patrick Greene.

In 1912, Hoffman and his assistant,the novelist Sinclair Lewis created a popular identity card with a serial number for readers. If the bearer were killed, someone finding the card would notify the magazine who would in turn notify the next of kin of the hapless adventurer. The popularity of the card amongst travelers led to the formation of the Adventurers Club of New York. The original New York Adventurers Club led to similar clubs in Chicago (1913), Los Angeles (1921), Copenhagen (1937) and Honolulu (1955).

Hoffman also was secretary of an organization named the "Legion" that had Theodore Roosevelt as one of its vice presidents. Membership cards of the organization included member's skills and specialties that were forwarded to the War Department when the United States entered World War I, the information being eventually used to create two regiments of aviation mechanics. Hoffman's group would later provide a model for the organisation of the American Legion after the war.

Adventure's letters page, The Camp-Fire featured Hoffman's editorials,background by the authors to their stories and discussions by the readers. At Hoffman's suggestion, a number of Camp-Fire Stations - locations where other readers of Adventure could meet up - were established. Robert Kenneth Jones notes that Adventure readers "..often wrote in to report on meeting new friends through these stations." By 1924, there were Camp-Fire Stations established across the US and in several other countries, including Britain, Australia, Egypt and Cuba. Adventure also offered Camp-Fire buttons which readers wore. Adventure featured several other notable columns, including:

  • Ask Adventure that called on the resources of 98 experts to answer various questions including the status of slavery in Ethiopia, whether Gila monster bites are fatal and the fighting merits of lions and gorillas. Several of Adventure's fiction writers also wrote material for this column on their respective areas of expertise,including MacCreagh (questions about Asia), Captain A.E. Dingle (Indian and Atlantic Oceans) and George E. Holt (Africa).
  • Lost Trails,which helped people locate missing relatives and friends.
  • Old Songs Men Have Sung,by Robert W. Gordon, which was dedicated to discussing American folk-songs. Gordon would later run the Archive of American Folk Song at the Library of Congress.

Hoffman encouraged the details of his writers' fiction to be as factually accurate as possible-mistakes would frequently be pointed out and criticised by the magazine's readers.

In 1915 the publishers attempted to reach women readers with a new title (Stories of Life, Love, and Adventure), but it went back to its male readership and original title in 1917.

In addition, Adventure under Hoffman also showcased the work of several famous artists, including Rockwell Kent, John R. Neill (who illustrated several Harold Lamb stories), Charles Livingston Bull, H.C. Murphy and Edgar Franklin Wittmack. By 1924, Adventure was regarded, in the words of Richard Bleiler, as " without question the most important "pulp" magazine in the world."

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    The purest lesson our era has taught is that man, at his highest, is an individual, single, isolate, alone, in direct soul-communication with the unknown God, which prompts within him.
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