Born in New Haven in 1859, Walker graduated from Williams College in 1880 and went to work at Harper’s Weekly, an influential political magazine whose editors subtitled it A Journal of Civilization. After the Civil War, Harper’s became widely known for publishing cartoons of Tammany Hall boss William Tweed by Thomas Nast.
Although it is hard to believe, by the 1880s the U.S. had a self-reported literacy rate of 90%. Therefore it makes sense that the country experienced a magazine boom during this decade. Among the many periodicals that came into being, The Cosmopolitan started publishing in 1886 as a “family magazine.”
Edward Walker joined the staff soon after, working as a writer and editor. The magazine survived bankruptcy and reinvented itself twice before the dynamo entrepreneur and inventor John Brisben Walker became editor in 1889. (The two men were not related.)
The arrival of John Brisben Walker may have caused some stress for Edward, who had served as editor in 1888 and clearly was passed over.
You have to hand it to Brisben Walker. He increased The Cosmopolitan’s circulation to 400,000 from 16,000 between 1890 and 1905, when he sold the magazine to William Randolph Hearst for $1 million.