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January 1948 Esquire cover
Editor in Chief David Granger
Categories Men's
Frequency Monthly
Circulation 700,000 [1]
First issue October 1933
Company Hearst Corporation
Country United States
Language English
ISSN 0014-0791

Esquire is a men's magazine, published in the U.S. by the Hearst Corporation. Founded in 1932, it flourished during the Great Depression under the guidance of founder and editor Arnold Gingrich.[2]



Esquire appeared, for the first time, in October 1933. It was conceived at the darkest moment of the depression and was born at the dawn of the New Deal. Founded and edited by David A. Smart and Arnold Gingrich.[2][3] It later transformed itself into a more refined periodical with an emphasis on men's fashion and contributions by Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. In the 1940s, the popularity of the Petty Girls and Vargas Girls provided a circulation boost. In the 1960s, Esquire helped pioneer the trend of New Journalism by publishing such writers as Norman Mailer, Tim O'Brien, John Sack, Gay Talese, Tom Wolfe and Terry Southern. Under Harold Hayes, who ran it from 1961 to 1973, it became as distinctive as its oversized pages. The magazine shrank to the conventional 8½x11 in 1971. The magazine was sold by the original owners to Clay Felker in 1977, who sold it to the 13-30 Corporation, a Tennessee publisher, two years later. 13-30 split up in 1986, and Esquire was sold to Hearst at the end of the year.

David Granger was named editor-in-chief of the magazine in June 1997. Since his arrival, the magazine has received numerous awards, including multiple National Magazine Awards—the industry’s highest honor. Prior to becoming editor-in-chief at Esquire, Granger was the executive editor at GQ for nearly six years.

In October 2008, to commemorate the magazine’s 75th Anniversary, Esquire published a limited edition digital cover that featured electronic ink with moving words and flashing images. A video of it can be found here: The electronic cover was used in only 100,000 copies that went to newsstands — its overall circulation is about 720,000. Esquire has exclusive use of E Ink’s technology for use in print through 2009.

The February 2009 issue cover contains a lift-the-flap advertisement in the middle of Barack Obama's face. The flap contains quotes from the issue and an ad for the Discovery Channel show One Way Out.[4]

In 2009, Esquire launched an augmented reality issue[5], where actor Robert Downey Jr.'s avatar can be controlled using QR Code barcodes printed in the magazine.


Esquire magazine has been a canvas for many artists and illustrators like Abner Dean, Santiago Martinez Delgado, George Petty, TY Mahon and John Groth among others. Art directors have included Jean-Paul Goude, Paul Rand, Roger Black and Samuel Antupit; also during the 1960s using the techniques of print advertising, legendary adman George Lois, the youngest inductee into the Art Directors Hall of Fame, designed clever, eye-catching Esquire covers, such as Sonny Liston as Santa Claus and Andy Warhol drowning in a can of soup to illustrate an article on the death of the avant-garde. Lois' covers raised Esquire's circulation in ten years from 500,000 to two million.

On the third floor of the Museum of Modern Art in Midtown Manhattan rests a tribute to Esquire’s glory years — a collection of 92 covers from the 1960s and early 1970s that have become, in the museum’s words, “essential to the iconography of American culture.”[6].

Today, Esquire is recognizable by its “wall of type covers"—which have inspired similar design in such magazines as New York, Maxim, and the Atlantic. The magazine has also continued its leading role in cutting edge design with its recent electronic ink (October 2008) and lift-the-flap (February 2009) covers.

Esquire on the Web

The Daily Endorsement Blog

In January 2009 Esquire launched a new blog—the Daily Endorsement Blog. Each morning the editors of the magazine recommend one thing for readers’ immediate enjoyment: “not a political candidate or position or party, but a breakthrough idea or product or Web site.”[7] The concept for this blog probably emerged from the November 2008 “Endorsement Issue,” in which, after 75 years, Esquire publicly endorsed a presidential candidate for the first time[8].


The Big Black Book

The Big Black Book is a style manual for men created by the editors of Esquire. It’s meant to be an entertaining guide to understanding the facets of modern fashion and social behavior. Beginning in 2009, the big Black Book will be issued twice a year, in both the spring and fall.

Best Dressed Real Man

Esquire hosts a yearly contest, the Best Dressed Real Man contest, for men who believe they have “elegance, style, panache, sophistication and taste.”[9] 25 semi-finalists are displayed on and on-line users may vote for their fan favorite. The 2008 winner was Kenyatte Nelson[10].


From 1969 to 1976, Gordon Lish served as fiction editor for Esquire and became known as "Captain Fiction" because of the authors whose careers he assisted. Lish helped establish the career of writer Raymond Carver by publishing his short stories in Esquire, often over the objections of Hayes. Lish is noted for encouraging Carver's minimalism and publishing the short stories of Richard Ford. Using the influential publication as a vehicle to introduce new fiction by emerging authors, he promoted the work of such writers as T. Coraghessan Boyle, Barry Hannah, Cynthia Ozick and Reynolds Price.

In February 1977, Esquire published "For Rupert - with no promises" as an unsigned work of fiction: this was the first time it had published a work without identifying the author. Readers speculated that it was the work of J. D. Salinger, the reclusive author best known for The Catcher in the Rye. Told in first-person, the story features events and Glass family names from the story "For Esmé – with Love and Squalor". Gordon Lish is quoted as saying, "I tried to borrow Salinger's voice and the psychological circumstances of his life, as I imagine them to be now. And I tried to use those things to elaborate on certain circumstances and events in his fiction to deepen them and add complexity." [11]

Other authors appearing in Esquire at that time included William F. Buckley, Truman Capote, Murray Kempton, Malcolm Muggeridge, Ron Rosenbaum, Andrew Vachss and Garry Wills.

The magazine's policy of nurturing young writing talent has continued with Elizabeth Gilbert, who debuted in Esquire in 1993, and more recently, with the work of such writers as Chris Adrian, Nathan Englander, Benjamin Percy, and Patrick Somerville. Other writers who have recently appeared in the magazine and on include Ralph Lombreglia, James Lee Burke, and Stephen King.[12]

The Napkin Fiction Project

In 2007 Esquire launched the Napkin Fiction Project, in which 250 cocktail napkins were mailed to writers all over the country—"some with a half dozen books to their name, others just finishing their first."[13] In return, the magazine received nearly a hundred stories, most of which can be viewed at Rick Moody, Jonathan Ames, Bret Anthony Johnston, Joshua Ferris, Yiyun Li, Je Banach, Peter Ho Davies, Aimee Bender, and ZZ Packer are among the writers included.

Dubious Achievement Awards

For many years, Esquire has published its annual Dubious Achievement Awards, lampooning events of the preceding year. As a running gag, the annual article almost always displayed an old photo of Richard Nixon laughing, with the caption, "Why is this man laughing?" However, the February 2006 "Dubious Achievement Awards" used the caption under a photo of W. Mark Felt, the former FBI official revealed in 2005 to be the "Deep Throat" Watergate source for Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. The magazine did continue the Nixon photo in February 2007, referring to a poll stating that George W. Bush had surpassed Nixon as the "worst president ever". Another running gag has been headlining one especially egregious achievement, "And then they went to Elaine's." (Elaine's is a popular restaurant in New York City.)

Esquire did not publish "Dubious Achievement Awards" for 2001 or 2002, but resumed them with the 2003 awards, published in the February 2004 issue.

"Dubious Achievement Awards" were permanently discontinued in 2008, according to an editor's note in the January 2008 issue.[14][15]

Sexiest Woman Alive

The annual feature Sexiest Woman Alive designation by the magazine is billed as a benchmark of female attractiveness.

Originally, it was a part of the "Women We Love" issue that was release in November. To build interest, the magazine would do a tease, releasing images of the woman's body parts in the issues preceding the November issue. By 2007, it has become the dominating story of the issue and to create an element of surprise the hints were abandoned.

Year Choice Age Notes
November 2004 Angelina Jolie 29 First winner [16]
November 2005 Jessica Biel 23 [17]
November 2006 Scarlett Johansson 21 Youngest winner [18]
November 2007 Charlize Theron 32 First foreign winner, first African winner (Republic of South Africa)[19]
November 2008 Halle Berry 42 First biracial winner, oldest winner [20]
November 2009 Kate Beckinsale 36 First British winner, first European winner

Recent honors

National Magazine Awards[21]


  • Winner for Personal Service, Feature Writing, and Leisure Interests
  • Finalist for Profile Writing


  • Finalist for Magazine Section


  • Winner for Reporting
  • Finalist for General Excellence (500,000 to 1,000,000 circulation), Magazine Section (two nominations), Feature Writing (two nominations), and Leisure Interests


  • Winner for General Excellence (500,000 to 1,000,000 circulation) and Profile Writing


  • Winner for Feature Writing


  • Winner for Reviews & Criticism, Fiction, Design, and Profile Writing


  • Winner for Reporting


  • Winner for Reviews & Criticism

Current editors

  • David Granger - Editor in Chief (U.S.A)
  • Peter Griffin - Deputy Editor
  • Helene F. Rubinstein - Editorial Director
  • David Curcurito - Design Director
  • Lisa Hintelmann - Editorial Projects Director
  • Mark Warren - Executive Editor
  • Nick Sullivan - Fashion Director
  • John Kenney - Managing Editor
  • Ryan D'Agostino, Ross McCammon - Articles Editors
  • Tyler Cabot, Richard Dorment - Features Editors
  • Peter Martin - Associate Editor
  • Tom Chiarella, Fiction Editor
  • Tim Heffernan - Assistant Editor
  • A. J. Jacobs - Editor at Large
  • Eric Gillin - Online Editor

Current writers

Listen to

International editions

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b "Arnold Gingrich, 72, Dead; Was a Founder of Esquire". New York Times. July 10, 1976, Saturday. "Arnold Gingrich, one of the founders of Esquire magazine in 1933 and its principal guiding light in most of the years since then, died of cancer yesterday at his home in Ridgewood, New Jersey, Mr. Gingrich, who was given the title of founding editor earlier this year, was 72 years old." 
  3. ^ "Alfred Smart, Head Of Esquire Magazine.". New York Times. February 5, 1951, Monday. 
  4. ^ ‘Open Here’ to Peek at Esquire’s Articles and Ad
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ The Wall Street Journal (February 25, 1977).
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Dubious & you: the milestones.(THE END OF DUBIOUS)(Brief article)." Esquire. 2008. accessmylibrary. (September 16, 2009).
  15. ^ "Beloved Esquire Franchise, 'Dubious Achievements,' Becomes One" New York Observer, January 22, 2008.
  16. ^ ESQ06O6MYSTOPENER_102
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^

External links

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