Since it debuted in 1933, Esquire has helped launch and promote the careers of dozens of renowned writers, from Raymond Carver and Richard Ford to Cynthia Ozick and Elizabeth Gilbert. Under the leadership of Harold Hayes and fiction editor Gordon Lish, nicknamed “Captain Fiction,” in the 1960s and 1970s, the magazine heralded the New Journalism movement with stories by Norman Mailer, Tom Wolfe, and Gay Talese (including his “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold,” perhaps the most famous piece of magazine journalism ever penned).
Now, many of those iconic works, as well as more contemporary pieces, are showcased in full–with new introductions and artwork–on the magazine’s new website, Esquire Classics, which launched in March. Here’s a sampling of the diverse stories featured recently: a discourse on the importance of fiction, by E.L. Doctorow, from 1986; Richard Ben Cramer’s famous piece, “What Do You Think of Ted Williams Now?”; former war correspondent Michael Herr’s “Hell Sucks,” which he wrote in Vietnam; and an essay by Nora Ephron, “A Few Words About Breasts,” originally published in her Esquire column in 1972. The archived works are available on the site at no cost, and advertisement-free, and the full text of the single article posted each week is also sent out in a weekly email to subscribers.
What Esquire’s plans for the standalone site are, that’s not clear–promotion has been rather minimal–but it’s likely the magazine hopes to attract new readers and draw traffic online with the archived materials. Soon, the site will include “The Esquire Cover to Cover Archive,” which will include every single issue from 1933 through the present, and this summer, Esquire Classics is also re-publishing one short story per week, with works by John Cheever, Flannery O’Connor, and Saul Bellow already in the mix.