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February252008

Who's Published the Most Short Stories in The New Yorker?

Filed under: The Katharine Wheel: On Fiction   Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

The third installment of a new column on New Yorker fiction, past and present, by writer and editor Benjamin Chambers.

A couple of weeks ago, I rashly declared that John Updike had to be the record-holder when it came to publishing the most short stories in The New Yorker. Should’ve known better than to venture so boldly into speculation: as it happens, The New Yorker’s librarians, Jon Michaud and Erin Overbey, covered this for Emdashes a while back in “Ask the Librarians,” and it turns out that James Thurber and S.J. Perelman are the neck-and-neck front-runners by far. Despite his prodigious output, Updike isn’t even in the top three—he comes in sixth.

Here’s the librarians’ list. Each author is followed by the number of short stories he published in The New Yorker during his career (or to date):

1. James Thurber—273
2. S.J. Perelman—272
3. John O’Hara—227
4. Frank Sullivan—192
5. E.B. White—183
6. John Updike—168

Now, there’s a reading list! (Albeit an all-male one.)

Thanks, Emily (and Erin and Jon), for setting me straight!

Comments

Very interesting! Does anyone know anything about Frank Sullivan? He doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry

I love Frank Sullivan so much. He was on the New York World with his friends on the Algonquin Round Table. Sullivan was close to the gang, particularly Marc Connelly and Franklin P. Adams. After the Pulitzer brothers sold the paper, Sullivan said, “When I die, I want to go where the World is published, and work on it again.”

Sullivan’s connection to The New Yorker is that he wrote the Christmas poem for almost 40 years. Ross (and then Shawn) had him on retainer from his home in Saratoga Springs.

You can pick up Sullivan books on eBay for cheap, and will laugh out loud reading his pieces. Look for his short story “The Night They Burned Old Nostalgia Down.”

Some of those figures seem a bit high, and might reflect a very broad definition of ‘story’. I have a good number of E. B. White’s books and, while I know he didn’t necessarily include everything he wrote between hard covers, I’d be very suprised if he published 183 short stories with the magazine. Is it possible that the figures you are working with include casuals and other, shorter items?

Ed HawkinsMarch 02, 2008

Kevin — thanks for the info on Frank Sullivan. I’ll keep an eye out for the “Nostalgia” piece.

Ed — I agree; you’re probably onto something. If the New Yorker Librarians are relying (as I do) on the index for The Complete New Yorker, then it’s probable that at least a few of the pieces that make up the fiction rankings are miscategorized. I’ve run across a few like that myself, such as memoirs by Thomas Meehan and Susan Sontag, and a “Shouts and Murmurs” sort of humorous essay by Michael Arlen, all miscategorized as fiction.

Care to plunge into the CNY and give us a more accurate tally?

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