The shore of Lake Michigan is a lovely place to visit, but a brutal place to live. Few would expect the shore to serve as the residence of a woman, let alone as the place where one of the most influential little magazines was housed. Yet, shortly after founding The Little Review, Margaret C. Anderson found herself lacking funds. Believing in the need for The Little Review to continue publication Anderson and her staff lived on the shores of Lake Michigan - the exact location is unknown - for about six months.
the Chicago Literary Renaissance, Margaret Anderson saw a need for a literary
magazine that made “no compromise with the Public Taste”. Having worked at
another prominent literary magazine, The Dial, Anderson was aware of the
needs both for operation purposes and within the publishing environment. Anderson’s
standards for quality were so high that in volume III number VI of the Review
she printed 13 blank pages because “The Little Review hopes to become a
magazine of Art. The September issue is offered as a Want Ad”. Anderson later explained that none of the
submissions that had been received were worthy of publication. In Anderson’s
mind it was better to publish nothing than to publish lackluster material.
based in Chicago, Anderson featured not only local artists but also national
and international artists. The list of writers published in The Little
Review includes, but is not limited to: H.D., Sherwood Anderson (no
relation), Maxwell Bodenheim, Ford Madox Hueffer (later changed to Ford Madox
Ford), Ezra Pound, and James Joyce. The last is especially notable because for
two years, 1918-1920, The Little Review published Joyce’s Ulysses
in a serialized format. Unfortunately, in 1920, Anderson was cited and
prosecuted for violating the Comstock Act which prohibited distribution of
obscene material. Thus began a nearly fifteen year long battle in the United
States regarding the censorship and literary merit of Ulysses. All
because Margaret Anderson knew it needed to be published and cared not whether
it would be seen as obscene.
it is fun to imagine all this happened while Anderson lived on the shore of
Lake Michigan, the truth is that most of this occurred after her time living
there. Still, it should be noted that the persistence of Anderson in times of
financial trouble are what allowed the flourishing of the magazine later on. And
yet, without the Chicago literary community Margaret Anderson would not have
had the opportunities to develop The Little Review to its fullest extent
– if at all; however, without Margaret Anderson the literary scene as we know
it today would likely be vastly different.