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Frank Morris
Frank Morris. 09 March 2023

TIME’s 100th Year: Luce, Hadden and a unique magazine called Time


Nineteen twenty three, TIME set out to become a catalyst of the publishing world.

For the best part of its illustrious 100 years existence, TIME magazine has had an affinity with Australia, or the Commonwealth, “the land of wonder.”

A gallery of prime ministers, prophets, media moguls, rebels and kings have graced the cover of one of the world’s leading magazines – TIME. 

“Occasionally, the cover … symbolises an event, a trend or idea,” says a spokesperson for TIME. “TIME believed that history is made by men and women, no matter how strong the   forces and movements that carry them along.”


MAIN: And three it is. Two ‘dummy’ issues that led up to the first TIME magazine we read at home today. BELOW: Briton Hadden and Henry Luce, the founders of the magazine.

Luce was born on April 3, 1898, in Tengchow, China, son of the Rev Dr Henry Luce, a poor but socially well-connected Presbyterian clergyman and teacher, and Elizabeth Root Luce, a former YWCA worker. Luce was the first of four boys.

After attending a strict British boarding school at Chefoo, Luce came to the United States at 15 to undertake his education at Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Conn., on a scholarship.

He amassed a top academic record, wrote verse, edited the school’s literary monthly and became assistant managing editor of the weekly paper.

Most fateful of all he became friendly with the newspaper’s managing editor, Briton Hadden.
Between them they shared a passion for journalistic integrity.

Both Luce and Hadden had an absorbing concern about quality journalism. They shared in the judgment that too many people were ignorant of the world about them and ought be enlightened.

With the flick of a coin, Briton Hadden, it was decided, became the first editor of TIME magazine.

They both went to Yale, where the two them were editors of The Daily News. They graduated in 1920. Luce, a Phill Beta Kappa, was voted “most brilliant” in the class, and Hadden “most likely to succeed.”

After brief study at Oxford, Luce returned to the Unites States and went to work for the Chicago Daily News as a researcher for the celebrated columnist Ben Hecht. He migrated from Chicago to Baltimore for a reporter’s job on The News, where he was reunited with Briton Hadden.

In their spare time, the youthful reporters developed plan for a weekly news magazine which would become the catalyst for the most entrepreneurial publishing monolith in the world.
At first, the title they came up with would be short and snappy - “Facts”; this was over-ridden by “TIME.” TIME got the nod.

TIME Magazine: A mixture of old and new.

Together, they drew up a prospectus, which pledged that the publication would have a “prejudice against the rising cost of government; faith in things which money cannot buy, a respect for the old, particularly in manners.”

The prospectus also told how the new magazine would differ from Literary Digest, then the reigning ‘news-like’ weekly. 

“The Digest, in giving both sides of a question, gives little or no hint as to which side it considers to be right.” Luce and Hadden said. “Time gives both sides. But clearly indicates which side it … has the strongest position.”

Charles Lindberg, TIME’s first The Man of the Year.

The task took a year, with 72 investors.

The first issue, dated March 3, 1923, divided the week’s news into 22 departments in 28 pages. Eighteen persons were listed on the first masthead. The Circulation Manager was Roy E. Larsen.

By the flip of a coin, it was decided Hadden would run the editorial side. It was Hadden who fathered the idiosyncratic style by which the magazine became famous.

For many months, Luce and Hadden took turns at the editor’s job until Briton Hadden’s death in 1929.

<< Frank Morris; Time Magazine: Romancing Australia, Australian Book Collector, April 1998; On This Day, New York Times; magazine and newspapers.


TIME has wooing Australia since the 1920s. It published a special magazine for Australia in the 1970s.

Come, meet our people of the year!

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