The Philistine explodes bomb-bombs to fire the bum-bums and the should-be dumb-dumbs . . . The good stuph is gathered every month by Elbert Hubbard, plucked sizzling from the fiery furnace, and put in palatable, picturesque, and piquant form for the delectation of the faithful . . . The Philistine is never dull. It makes many glad, some sad, and a few mad. It says things that make you think. Thus it does more than merely entertain.
The Philistine: A Periodical of Protest is one of the little-known gems of the Periodicals collection, held at the Main library (ask for it at Periodicals desk – 3rd floor). Elbert Hubbard, a famous and somewhat controversial figure of the time, wrote and published this title from 1895-1915. Main Library holds the issues from 1901-1915.
The volumes are very small – about 6” tall and 4” wide. They include essays and epigrams penned by Hubbard as well as ads for the products made by the Roycroft community. Roycroft was a community of artisans that Hubbard founded – they spearheaded the Arts and Crafts movement in America.
Hubbard printed the magazine himself with a press he installed at Roycroft. The Roycrofters also produced special editions of Hubbard’s books, other popular titles, and handmade furniture, leather and metal goods.
Hubbard was a larger than life character full of contradictions, espousing ideas like socialism and the free market at the same time. He wrote about philosophy, religion, politics, literature, business, self-improvement and more. His style was humorous, irreverent, often arrogant and (in my opinion) a little bit kooky. Hubbard toured America giving lectures in addition to publishing pamphlets, magazines and books.
In 1915 Hubbard and his wife died aboard the Lusitania. This ended The Philistine’s run, but his son continued to run the Roycroft community for about 20 more years.
What’s Special About The Philistine: A Periodical of Protest?
W.W. Denslow, an artist at the Roycroft Community who went on to illustrate the L. Frank Baum Wizard of Oz books, designed the “Seahorse” logo used in the magazine.
Every issue included epigrams written by Hubbard and printed in a decorative font with intricate borders.
Hubbard’s essays often skewered the leading literary figures of the day, attacking George Bernard Shaw, Rudyard Kipling, William Dean Howells, and others with somewhat exaggerated criticism.
In March 1899, Hubbard published in The Philistine an inspirational 1500-word essay called “A Message to Garcia” that became extremely popular, eventually being reprinted over 9 million times.
The January 1915 issue of The Philistine was about World War I (called “The War Number”), in which Hubbard strongly opposed American involvement.
The final issue is a tribute to Elbert Hubbard and his wife, who died aboard the Lusitania.
To learn more about Elbert Hubbard, you can check out these items from Nashville Public Library: