Edward William Bok
- Category : Writer
- Type : PSP
- Profile : 1/4 - Investigating / Opportunist
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Penetration 3
Edward William Bok (born Eduard Willem Gerard Cesar Hidde Bok) (October 9, 1863 – January 9, 1930) was a Dutch born American editor and Pulitzer Prize-winning author. He was editor of the Ladies' Home Journal for thirty years. Bok is credited with coining the term living room as the name for room of a house that had commonly been called the parlor or drawing room. He also created Bok Tower Gardens in central Florida.
Life and career
He was born in Den Helder, The Netherlands. At the age of six, he immigrated to Brooklyn, New York, USA. In Brooklyn he washed the windows of a bakery shop after school to help support his family. His people were so poor that in addition he used to go out in the street with a basket every day and collect stray bits of coal that had fallen in the gutter where the coal wagons had delivered fuel.
In 1882, Edward Bok began work with Henry Holt and Company, and then, in 1884, he became involved with Charles Scribner's Sons, where he eventually became its advertising manager. From 1884 until 1887, Bok was the editor of The Brooklyn Magazine, and in 1886, he founded The Bok Syndicate Press.
After moving to Philadelphia in 1889, he obtained the editorship of Ladies Home Journal, when its founder and editor, Louisa Knapp Curtis, stepped down to a less intense role at the popular, nationally-circulated publication. It was published by Cyrus Curtis, who had an established publishing empire that included many newspapers and magazines.
In 1896 Bok married Mary L. Curtis, the daughter of Louisa and Cyrus Curtis. She shared her family's interest in music, cultural activities, and philanthropy and was very active in social circles.
During his editorship, the Journal became the first magazine in the world to have one million subscribers and it became very influential among readers by featuring informative and progressive ideas in its articles. The magazine focused upon the social issues of the day. The mother of H.L. Mencken was one of those busy and amiable housewives who read Edward Bok’s Ladies’ Home Journal year after passing year. When Bok’s autobiography, The Americanization of Edward Bok, appeared in 1920, he naturally reviewed it with an interest based on long acquaintance with the magazine. Mencken observed that Bok showed an irrepressible interest in things artistic. “When he looked at the houses in which his subscribers lived, their drab hideousness made him sick. When he went inside and contemplated the lambrequins, the gilded cattails, the Rogers groups, the wax fruit under glass domes, the emblazoned seashells from Asbury Park, the family Bible on the marble-topped center-table, the crayon enlargements of Uncle Richard and Aunt Sue, the square pianos, the Brussels carpets, the grained woodwork—when his eyes alighted upon such things, his soul revolted, and at once his moral enthusiasm incited him to attempt a reform. The result was a long series of Ladies’ Home Journal crusades against the hideousness of the national scene—in domestic architecture, in house furnishing, in dress, in town buildings, in advertising. Bok flung himself headlong into his campaigns, and practically every one of them succeeded. . . . If there were gratitude in the land, there would be a monument to him in every town in the Republic. He has been, aesthetically, probably the most useful citizen that ever breathed its muggy air.” It also became the first magazine to refuse patent medicine advertisements. In 1919, after thirty years at the journal, Bok retired.
In 1923, Bok proposed the American Peace Award.
In 1924 Mary Louise Bok founded the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, which she dedicated to her father, Cyrus Curtis, and in 1927, the Boks embarked upon the construction of Bok Tower Gardens, near their winter home in Mountain Lake Estates, Lake Wales, Florida, which was dedicated on February 1, 1929 by the president of the United States, Calvin Coolidge. Bok Tower sometimes is called a sanctuary and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a National Landmark. Bok is used as an example in Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People.
Bok is credited with coining the term living room as the name for room of a house that was commonly called a parlor or drawing room. This room had traditionally been used only on Sundays or for formal occasions such as the displaying of deceased family members before burial. Bok believed it was foolish to create an expensively furnished room that was rarely used, and promoted the new name to encourage families to use the room in their daily lives. He wrote, " We have what is called a 'drawing room'. Just whom or what it 'draws' I have never been able to see unless it draws attention to too much money and no taste..."
His 1920 autobiography, The Americanization of Edward Bok, won the Gold Medal of the Academy of Political and Social Science and the Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography. Edward W. Bok died on January 9, 1930. Two of his grandsons are Derek Bok and Gordon Bok.