The World on Sunday: Graphic Art in Joseph Pulitzer's Newspaper (1898 - 1911)


Joseph Pulitzer's New York World flourished at the turn of the twentieth century, and out of it grew what we think of as the modern daily paper. The World was famous for muckraking and sensationalism, but to a contemporary eye what is most striking about the paper (and in particular its Sunday edition) is that it was filled with colorful art -- caricatures, full-page cartoons, disaster drawings, fiction illustrations, hand-lettered typography, weird science, halftone ...
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Joseph Pulitzer's New York World flourished at the turn of the twentieth century, and out of it grew what we think of as the modern daily paper. The World was famous for muckraking and sensationalism, but to a contemporary eye what is most striking about the paper (and in particular its Sunday edition) is that it was filled with colorful art -- caricatures, full-page cartoons, disaster drawings, fiction illustrations, hand-lettered typography, weird science, halftone photographs, maps, and more.

Author Nicholson Baker, dubbed the "Erin Brockovich of the library world" by the New York Times Book Review for his dedication to saving early American newspaper collections, started buying up archives from public libraries around the country and around the world, forming the American Newspaper Repository. Baker's research was published as Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper, which won the National Book Critics' Circle award for non-fiction in 2002.

Now Baker and co-author Margaret Brentano have selected 85 of the finest examples of period reporting, bold and playful graphic design, long-lost comic strips, and society pieces from the heyday of the New York World for reproduction in this delightful, oversized volume. Baker's introductory essay argues the significance and beauty of Pulitzer's paper, and Brentano's detailed captions and notes accompany the colorful reproductions throughout.

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Editorial Reviews

The New Yorker
In 1898, as part of a larger strategy to transform his New York World newspaper, Joseph Pulitzer bought a high-speed color printing press—seventy tons, with forty thousand moving parts. Appearing in the paper’s Sunday edition, color pictures leavened the news with wonder: a pioneering night photographer captured the glorious electrification of St. Louis during the World’s Fair; an illustrator charged with covering the Great Airship Race of 1904 before anyone had seen the ships resourcefully drew the imagined perspective of an airborne competitor. As Baker notes in his introduction, Pulitzer was near-blind when color illustrations were introduced: “The more his own sight dimmed, the more imploringly colorful his paper became.”
Publishers Weekly
Husband and wife team Baker (Double Fold) and Brentano rescued one of the last surviving sets of the New York World from the British Library and, in a labor of love, sorted through a decade's worth of its issues. They present reproductions of comics, advertisements, portraits, political cartoons, caricatures and other illustrations from the turn-of-the-20th-century mass-circulation daily paper. These images, they say, celebrate a "vaudeville revue of urban urges and preoccupations." To take a sampling of these fascinating illustrations (all elucidated by Brentano's historically illuminating captions): an 1899 two-page real estate spread features delicate black-and-white drawings of the Astor holdings, "like bars of music in a hymnal of real estate." From the same year, a green and red portrait of Mark Twain accompanies his piece, "My First Lie and How I Got Out of It." For a 1909 story headlined "New York Has Seven Levels of Transit," a cutaway illustration highlight's the city's transportation, from tunnels under the river to the Brooklyn Bridge. This quirky volume brings to life an era and makes an almost lost art form widely available again. 144 four-color illus. (Oct.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper, Baker decried the wholesale disposal of print newspapers for microfilm; with this beautiful oversize volume, he shows what libraries are now missing. He and coauthor/ wife Brentano purchased runs of Joseph Pulitzer's New York newspaper, the World, from the British Library and before donating the set to Duke University's libraries had many of the newspaper's full-page illustrations photographed. The result is a gorgeous snapshot of newspaper history and Americana. Baker's wonderful introduction reminds us of the importance of newspapers in the recreational and social lives of turn-of-the-century readers. Arranged chronologically from 1898 to 1911, the 144 carefully selected illustrations offer examples of reporting, fashion drawings, comic strips, society pieces, games, and activity pages. Also included are illustrations that made use of new technologies, such as the night photographs taken at the St. Louis Fair of 1904. Brentano supplies brief and helpful captions to provide the context for each page. This book will appeal to interested general readers, as well as specialists in graphic design, journalism, and American studies. Recommended for academic and large public libraries.-Judy Solberg, George Washington Univ. Libs., Washington, DC Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780821261934
  • Publisher: Bulfinch
  • Publication date: 9/29/2005
  • Pages: 144
  • Product dimensions: 12.60 (w) x 13.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Nicholson Baker

Nicholson Baker has published seven novels and three works of nonfiction, including Double Fold, which won a National Book Critics Circle Award in 2001. He regularly contributes to the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books.
Margaret Brentano has worked in publishing and as a reporter. This is her first book. Baker and Brentano are married and live with their two children in Maine. Together they founded the American Newspaper Repository, a collection of 19th- and 20th-century newspapers. In 2004, the collection moved to Duke University.


An elegant writer who has taken stream of consciousness to dizzying postmodern heights, Nicholson Baker has produced a body of work that is eccentric, inventive, and extremely difficult to categorize. In his virtually plotless novels, characters ruminate on the minutest details of everyday life and lose themselves in memories of Proustian intensity. His nonfiction is equally unconventional, filled with meticulously researched minutiae and passionate polemics on topics of great personal interest -- perhaps only to himself.

Baker's quirky brilliance was evident early on in several convoluted short stories that appeared in The New Yorker and Atlantic. But he hit his own idiosyncratic stride with his 1998 debut novel. Essentially one long, loopy digression riddled with footnotes nearly as long as the narrative, The Mezzanine traces a young man's meandering thoughts during a brief escalator ride from the ground floor to the mezzanine of the office building where he works. The "action," such as it is, takes scant minutes, but it's time enough to lay bare the protagonist's entire inner life. In his review for The New York Times, Robert Plunket singled out for commendation "...the razor-sharp insight and droll humor with which Mr. Baker illuminates the unseen world."

In other novels, Baker has taken us inside the heads of many characters: a young father bottle-feeding his infant daughter (Room Temperature); a middle-aged man whose early-morning ritual begins with lighting a fire (A Box of Matches); a man who stops time in order to fondle and exploit unsuspecting women (Fermata); two people a continent apart who indulge in graphic sexual fantasies over the telephone (Vox). (Fermata and Vox were widely criticized as "literary pornography." Vox created additional buzz, when it was revealed that Monica Lewinsky had given a copy to President Bill Clinton.)

Although Baker can never be accused of dispassion, the peculiarity of his nonfiction has led to mixed reviews. In lengthy essays and articles and wildly discursive books, he has paid extravagant tribute to his literary hero John Updike (U and I: A True Story), decried the destruction of library card catalogs (an essay in The Size of Thoughts), led a crusade to preserve and archive entire collections of American newspapers (Double Fold), and challenged the traditional view of World War II as "inevitable" (Human Smoke).

Baker's brand of erudite obsession may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it is easy for literate readers to fall in love with his glittering prose. He is, above all else, a lover of language; and in his deft and capable hands, even the most mundane objects and events spring to glorious, full-bodied life. Summing up the singular, seductive charms of Baker's writing, Salon critic Laura Miller may have said it best: "...dazzling descriptive powers married to a passionate enthusiasm for the neglected flotsam and jetsam of everyday life."

Good To Know

A two-week writing seminar with Donald Barthelme at the University of California jump-started Baker's writing career.

His great-grandfather Ray Stannard Baker served as press secretary to president Woodrow Wilson and won a Pulitzer prize for his biography of Wilson.

Baker's first area of interest was music, rather than literature. A talented bassoonist, he attended Eastman School of Music with an eye to becoming a classical composer. Midway through his first year, he changed his major to English. He transferred to Haverfod College in Philadelphia, graduating in 1980.

One of Baker's most passionate concerns is preserving complete runs of newspapers as a valuable record of American history. To that end, he founded the American Newspaper Repository in 1999, when he learned the British Library was selling off or trashing its bound volumes of post-1870 newspapers.

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    1. Date of Birth:
    2. Place of Birth:
      Rochester, NY
    1. Education:
      B.A. in English, Haverford College, 1980

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