Nine years after selling his magazine to Time Inc., Edward Lewis reveals how Essence came to be in his new book, The Man From Essence: Creating a Magazine for Black Women (Atria Books). Mediabistro recently interviewed Lewis to discuss the beginnings of one of the first magazines devoted to black women and why now was the right time to write his book.
Essence was first published in 1970 with a modest 50,000 copies before growing to more than a million four decades later. That type of growth will keep anyone busy and it was the “day-to-day running” of Essence that stalled him from telling its story earlier on. Lewis says this was an important story to tell because:
I wanted black women to know that a group of men thought so much of them that we wanted to bring something into the world that would celebrate their beauty and intelligence. Other women’s magazines weren’t talking about black women and we wanted to fill the void in the marketplace.
To find out more on the early days of Essence and what the magazine was almost called, read: So What Do You Do, Edward Lewis, Founder of Essence Magazine?