|Year founded||February 1876|
|Based in||Harvard University
Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.
The Harvard Lampoon publication was founded in 1876 by seven undergraduates at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts who were inspired by popular magazines like Punch (1841) and Puck (1871).The Harvard Lampoon is the world's second longest continually published humor magazine (after Nebelspalter).
The organization also produces occasional humor books (the best known being the 1969 J.R.R. Tolkien parody Bored of the Rings) and parodies of national magazines such as Entertainment Weekly and Sports Illustrated. Much of the organization's capital is provided by the licensing of the "Lampoon" name to National Lampoon, begun by Harvard Lampoon graduates in 1970.
The Lampoon publishes five issues annually. In 2006, the Lampoon began regularly releasing content on its website, including pieces from the magazine and web-only content. In 2009, the Lampoon published a parody of Twilight called Nightlight, which is a New York Times bestseller. In February 2012, the Lampoon released a parody of The Hunger Games called The Hunger Pains. It is also a New York Times bestseller.
The Lampoon is known for its bacchanalian parties, which can result in smashed plates and furniture. The Lampoon's affairs are administered by Harvard Lampoon, Inc., whose Board of Graduate Trustees includes such people as James Murdoch, Ted Widmer, and Bill Oakley. Robert K. Hoffman, co-founder of the National Lampoon and major donor to the Dallas Museum of Art was a Trustee until his death in 2006, and was declared a Trustee "Ad-Infinitum" a year later.
The Harvard Lampoon was first published in 1876 by seven founders including Ralph Wormeley Curtis, Edward Sandford Martin, Edmund March Wheelwright, and Arthur Murray Sherwood, (who was the father of Robert E. Sherwood).The Magazine began to take shape after several founders, at that time members of the Harvard Advocate, attempted to publish a humorous story in the magazine. When the story was rejected by the editor of the Advocate, the writers met and decided to print the story at cost to be nailed to a tree in Harvard Yard. The story was a hit and with the campus clamoring for more the Lampoon was born. In its earliest years the magazine focused primarily on the satirization of Harvard and Boston Brahmin society. Philosopher George Santayana was one of the earliest members of the Harvard Lampoon (seen at left).
As the Lampoon began to gain notoriety on campus, the society moved from offices in Hollis Hall, to addresses on Holyoke and Plympton streets respectively. These collections of rooms rented by the trustees of the Lampoon were famous not only for their beer nights, but also with the regularity that the Lampoon spent the profits made on each magazine for these beer nights. "It was a good night when the Lampoon could afford coal and beer, and they often had to choose between one or the other." Pranks abounded in the early years, some more destructive than others. Several depictions of early pranks can be found in the archives of Lampoon issues, often with the caption "a night with the Med Fac." Included in these pranksters was future news magnate William Randolph Hearst, who was expelled from Harvard after sending a pudding pot used as a chamber pot to a professor.
In the early 20th century, the Trustees of the Lampoon decided that the time was right to find a permanent headquarters for the Lampoon, what eventually became The Castle, or the Harvard Lampoon Building. A Lampoon graduate from 1887, Archibald Cary Coolidge, professor of architecture at Harvard College, was chosen as the architect of one of the colleges newest dormitories, Randolph Hall. When designing Randolph, Coolidge purposefully made the dormitory recessed further back from Mt. Auburn Street than was at first designed and purchasing the land the Castle would stand on. The design of the castle was given to Edmund March Wheelwright, then city architect of Boston. After touring Europe with his friend Isabella Stewart Gardner, Wheelwright decided to build the castle in the style of a Flemish castle. Wheelwright and Gardner purchased thousands of Delft tiles and many other artifacts from Europe in order to be sent back to the Castle. The value of this collection is unknown, due to the secret nature of the organization. Much of the cost of building the Castle was paid for by William Randolph Hearst.
The Lampoon and its sensibility began to branch out away from the Harvard campus in the early 1960s, and soon became an especially important expression and feeder system of American humor and comedy since that time. In 1961, Mademoiselle offered the Lampoon staff an honorarium to produce a parody of their own magazine for the traditionally lower-selling July issue. The project boosted Mademoiselle's summer circulation along with the Lampoon's ever tenuous cash flow, and the magazine renewed its association with the Lampoon for a follow-up parody in July 1962, and a third parody issue (of Esquire) in July 1963. The magazine also produced a 70-page spoof of Ian Fleming's James Bond novels in 1962 titled Alligator, which was subsequently released by Random House. These projects proved popular, and led to full, nationally-distributed parodies of Playboy (1966), Time (1968), and Life (1969), and later, Cosmopolitan in 1972 and Sports Illustrated (1974).
An important line of demarcation came when Lampoon editors Douglas Kenney and Henry Beard wrote the Tolkien parody Bored of the Rings. The success of this book and the attention it brought its authors led directly to the creation of the National Lampoon magazine, which spun off a live show Lemmings, and then a radio show in the early 1970s, The National Lampoon Radio Hour which featured such performers as Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer and Chevy Chase.
Writers from these shows were subsequently hired to help create Saturday Night Live. This was the first in a line of many TV shows that Lampoon graduates went on to write for, including The Simpsons, Futurama, Saturday Night Live, Late Night with David Letterman, Seinfeld, Friends, The League, NewsRadio, The Office, 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation and dozens of others. An old copy of the magazine was shown in the fourth-season finale of NewsRadio, and referred to as the "nefarious scandal sheet."
Lampoon alumni include such comedians as Conan O'Brien, Andy Borowitz, B. J. Novak, Greg Daniels, and Colin Jost. Etan Cohen wrote for Beavis and Butt-Head as an undergraduate member. In 1986 former editor Kurt Andersen co-founded the satirical magazine Spy, which employed Lampoon writers Paul Simms and Eric Kaplan, and published the work of Lampoon alumni Patricia Marx, Lawrence O'Donnell and Mark O'Donnell. The Lampoon has also graduated many noted authors such as George Plimpton, George Santayana, John Updike, and William Gaddis. Actor Fred Gwynne was a cartoonist at the Lampoon and became its president. Famous Boston lawyer Bradley Palmer acted as treasurer for the Lampoon.
Celebrities often visit the Lampoon to be inducted as honorary members of the organization. Honorary members include Tony Hawk, Bill Cosby, Robin Williams, Elon Musk, Tracey Ullman, John Cleese, Jay Leno, Winston Churchill, Aerosmith, Adam Sandler, Billy Crystal, Ke$ha, Hugh Hefner, Ezra Pound, Kurt Vonnegut, the cast of Saturday Night Live, Sarah Silverman, and John Wayne.
It is disputed whether the etymology of "Lampoon" in the English language stems first from the Harvard Lampoon.
Rivalry with The Harvard Crimson
The Lampoon has a long-standing rivalry with Harvard's student newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, which repeatedly refers to the Lampoon in its pages as a "semi-secret Sorrento Square social organization which used to occasionally publish a so-called humor magazine".
A noted event in the history of the Lampoon–Crimson rivalry was the Crimson's 1953 theft of the Lampoon Castle's ibis statue and presentation of it as a gift to the government of the Soviet Union.
On September 27, 2011, the Lampoon stole the Harvard Crimson President's Chair and had it used as a prop on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. On June 2, 2015, the Lampoon stole the Harvard Crimson President's Chair, pretended to be the Harvard Crimson editorial staff, and took the chair to Trump Tower to endorse now-President Donald Trump.
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- Edmund March Wheelwright (American Architect) City Architect of Boston. Architect of the Harvard Lampoon Castle. Descendant of the Boston Wheelwright family.
- John Brooks Wheelwright American Poet. Co-founder of the Lampoon. Marxist, a founder-member of the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party in the United States.
- Ralph Wormeley Curtis American painter and graphic artist in the Impressionist style.
- Frederick Lewis Allen- editor of Harper's Magazine and also notable as an American historian of the first half of the twentieth century. Author of Only Yesterday.
- Edward Sandford Martin- first literary editor of Life Magazine
- Thomas Parker Sanborn- American poet. The eldest son of abolitionist, social scientist, and memorialist of American transcendentalism Franklin Benjamin Sanborn. Model for the protagonist of Santayana's novel The Last Puritan.
- Roger Sherman Hoar- Senator and assistant Attorney General. Under the nome-de-plume Ralph Milne Farley, Hoar wrote an impressive amount of science fiction in the early 20th century.
- William Randolph Hearst- American businessman, politician, and newspaper publisher. Senator in the U.S. house of Representatives. Known for the media empire Hearst Communications. Involved directly in pushing the United States into the Spanish American War. Inspiration for Charles Foster Kane, the lead character in Orson Welles's film Citizen Kane.
- Harold Everett Porter Boston socialite and author. Wrote poetry, plays and fiction under the name "Holworthy Hall."
- John Reed- American journalist, poet, and socialist activist, best remembered for his first-hand account of the Bolshevik Revolution, Ten Days That Shook the World. One of only three Americans buried in the Kremlin Wall Necropolis
- Charles Hopkinson- American Painter. Notable for his portraits of Calvin Coolidge, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and other heads of state.
- Elliot Richardson- American lawyer and politician who was a member of the cabinet of Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. As U.S. Attorney General, he was a prominent figure in the Watergate Scandal, and resigned rather than obey President Nixon's order to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox. President of the Harvard Law Review.
- George Santayana- Philosopher, essayist, poet, and novelist.
- Archibald Cary Coolidge- Scholar in international affairs, a planner of the Widener Library, a member of the United States Foreign Service, and editor-in-chief of the policy journal Foreign Affairs.
- Edward Knoblock- American-born British playwright and novelist most remembered for the often revived 1911 play, Kismet.
- John P. Marquand- American writer.
- William R. Huntington- American architect and Quaker representative to the United Nations
- George Howe (architect)- American architect and educator, and an early convert to the International style.
- Ernest Thayer- American writer and poet who wrote the poem "Casey" (or "Casey at the Bat")
- Henry Ives Cobb Jr.- Son of Henry Ives Cobb. American architect and Painter.
- Robert E. Sherwood- American playwright, editor, and screenwriter. Author of There Shall Be No Night. Speechwriter for Franklin D. Roosevelt. Pulitzer Prize winning author of the biography Roosevelt and Hopkins: An Intimate History.
- Harold Weston- American modernist painter whose work included impressionism, realism and abstraction, as well as a highly regarded political activist.
- Nathaniel Choate- American painter and sculptor who served as vice president of the National Sculpture Society.
- Curtis Guild Jr.- American journalist, soldier, diplomat and politician from Massachusetts. 43rd Governor of Massachusetts. Descendant of John Guild and David Cobb.
- Winthrop Ames- American theatre director and producer, playwright and screenwriter. Known for his production of Shakespeare on Broadway.
- Robert Grant- Descendant of Edmund Rice. American author and a jurist.
- F. Van Wyck Mason- American historian and novelist.
- Herbert Eustis Winlock- American Egyptologist employed with the Metropolitan Museum of Art during his entire Egyptological career. Known for his restoration of the temple of Amun. Instrumental in the design of the Metropolitan Museum's spectacular Dig House. Closely involved in the excavation of King Tutankhamen's tomb.
- Robert Hoffman (businessman)- Co-founder of The National Lampoon.
- Frederic Jesup Stimson- United States ambassador to Argentina.
- George Plimpton- American journalist, writer, literary editor, actor.
- Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan- United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from 1966 to 1977, during which he reoriented the agency's focus beyond Europe and prepared it for an explosion of complex refugee issues.
- John Updike- American novelist, poet, short story writer, art critic, and literary critic. One of only three writers to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction more than once. His most famous work is his "Rabbit" series.
- William Gaddis- American novelist. Author of the novels The Recognitions, J R and A Frolic of His Own. Considered to be one of the most important American post-modern writers.
- Bradley Palmer- prominent U.S. attorney and businessman. He was involved with the creation and development of multiple corporations, including the United Fruit Company, Gillette Safety Razor Corp., and International Telephone & Telegraph Corporation. He was also part of the American delegation at the Paris Peace Conference following the First World War.
- Fred Gwynne- American actor, artist and author.
- Kurt Andersen- American Novelist.
- Douglas Kenney- American writer and actor who co-founded the magazine National Lampoon in 1970.
- Henry Beard- American humorist, one of the founders of the magazine National Lampoon.
- James Murdoch- British-born Australian-American businessman, the younger son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, the chief executive officer (CEO) of 21st Century Fox.
- Conan O'Brien- American television host, comedian, and television producer.
- Colin Jost- American actor, comedian, and screenwriter.
- B. J. Novak- American actor, screenwriter, author, producer and director. Producer of the American T.V. show The Office.
- Andy Borowitz- American writer, comedian, satirist, and actor.
- Lawrence O'Donnell- American television pundit and host of The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell.
- Justin Hurwitz- Academy award winning composer of La La Land.
- Wright is cited as Comedian of Year, The Salina Journal, 4 April 1990, p. 24, retrieved November 22, 2013
- "The Last Laugh," Boston Globe Magazine, March 11, 2001. http://cache.boston.com/globe/magazine/3-11/featurestory1.shtml
- Schuessler, Jennifer. "Hardcover". The New York Times.
- "The Hunger Pains". Amazon. Retrieved 29 September 2011.
- Cowles, Gregory. "Print & E-Books". The New York Times.
- The Alumni - September-October '97 - Reading Homer
- "The Founders. A.D. 1876". The Harvard lampoon fiftieth anniversary 1876–1926. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard lampoon. 1926.
- Report - Harvard College (1780– ). Class of 1877. 1917. p. 338.
- The American Pageant: A History of the Republic, Thirteenth edition. 2006.
- "The Rhodes Roster", Harvard Magazine, 2004, retrieved 10-11-2013 Check date values in:
- "'Dove of Peace' is 'Bird': Harvard Crimson's Gift to Reds Ends Up as Campus Prank", New York Times, p. 24, 1953-04-22
- "Crimson President's Chair on Jimmy Fallon!". Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 28 September 2011.
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