Concept

William Shawn

Résumé
William Shawn (né Chon; August 31, 1907 – December 8, 1992) was an American magazine editor who edited The New Yorker from 1952 until 1987. Shawn was born William Chon on August 31, 1907, in Chicago, Illinois, to Benjamin T. Chon, a cutlery salesman, and Anna Bransky Chon. He was the youngest of five. His older siblings were Harold (1892-1967), Melba (1894-1964), Nelson (1898-1974), and Myron (1902-1987). His family were non-observant Jews from Eastern Europe. William dropped out of the University of Michigan after two years (1925-1927) and began working. Shawn traveled to Las Vegas, New Mexico, where he worked at the local newspaper, The Optic. He returned to Chicago and worked as a journalist. Around 1930 he changed the spelling of his last name to Shawn. In 1932, he and his wife, Cecille, moved to New York City, where he tried to start a career as a composer. Soon after their arrival in New York City, Cecille took a fact checking job at The New Yorker magazine, and her husband began working there in 1933. His temperament contrasted with that of the magazine's founder Harold Ross. Colleagues later described him as "shy", "deferential", having a "strange presence". Lillian Ross recalled that Shawn believed in the value of every life, even that of Hitler. Shawn stayed with the magazine for 53 years. Shawn rose to assistant editor of The New Yorker and oversaw the magazine's coverage of World War II. He had been trying to get a story out of John Hersey for years. After Life magazine rejected Hersey's profile of future president John F. Kennedy, Shawn seized the opportunity. The story ran in The New Yorker and was reprinted in the Reader's Digest. Hundreds of thousands of copies were distributed during Kennedy's campaigns for the U.S. House of Representatives and the presidency. In 1946, Shawn persuaded Ross to run Hersey's story about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima as the entire contents of one issue. He left for a few months shortly after that to write on his own, but soon returned.
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