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Reedy’s Mirror History

Weekly literary journal reflecting the interest of thinking people. William Marion Reedy, editor/publisher.

Reedy and His Mirror

By Frank Absher

William Marion Reedy, the publisher of Reedy's Mirror, was known all over the nation as an excellent writer, and his work continues to be studied and revered by scholars of the business of writing. As a businessman, he did what needed to be done to keep his publication afloat.
He was not able to afford high-quality paper for a slick publication, so the Mirror's pages were newsprint stock, and they have not held up well over the many years since publication.
Reedy also changed the publication's name several times over its thirty-year lifetime: The Sunday Mirror, Mirror, Reedy's Mirror and the St. Louis Mirror. In the summer of 1920, Reedy appointed Charles Finger as acting editor. This freed up the publisher to attend the Democratic National Convention and vacation in California. He still contributed to the paper's editorial content via the U.S. Mail. Reedy died July 28 of that year, but the paper was able to publish six more issues before folding. These consisted of tributes to Reedy as well as re-publications of some of Reedy's more popular works.
Reflagged the St. Louis Mirror, the paper managed to continue puplication through the end of October under the ownership of a group of St. Louis businessmen, who bought the operation from Reedy's widow. Col. Jacob Dickenson was hired as editor, and he acknowledged the impossible task of filling Reedy's shoes: "Everything in Reedy's Mirror was shot through brilliantly with the sparkle and sheen of his powerful and unique personality." The paper soon closed for good.

William Marion "Billy" Reedy
To his credit, Reedy had turned his paper into a bastion of well-written material, and he had done it without spending a lot of money. Articles by Edgar Lee Masters, Theodore Dreiser, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Sara Teasdale, Carl Sandberg and Ezra Pound had graced its pages. Often the works were paid for, but many were, shall we say, pilfered. International writers, such as Yeats, Wilde and Galsworethy, certainly did not receive payment for their works which Reedy published.
And William Marion Reedy was, to say the least, a character. As writer/researcher Charles Burgess noted, Reedy, "familiarly called Billy by nearly everyone, was a flambouyant figure in St. Louis journalism from 1880-1920. He was a controversial, unconventional character of great personal and social charm despite his corpulent appearance, by all accounts.
"As a reporter for the Republican (later The Republic) and for The Globe-Democrat, and as city editor of the Star-Sayings (later the Star) he showed a brilliant, if behavioristically erratic, journalistic versatility. He investiganted with keen enthusiasm, usually on his own time, the delights of the saloons and bordellos of the period." His second wife, Margaret (professional name Margery Rhodes) was the proprietress of one of the city's best-known and most-elaborate "sporting houses."
However, when it came to his publication, Billy Reedy held his work to the highest standards: "The Mirror has no policy but honesty...It will criticize without cruelty and praise without unnecessary expenditure of saliva. It will fight sin and not sinners. For the rest, the paper will try to maintain the great truth that what the world needs is not more moralizing, but more taste in living."

Frances Barnett Roper

By W.A. Kelsoe

            One of the few women writers on the Star in the early years of its existence and the only one when I worked on the paper in 1890 was Mrs. Frances Barnett Roper, who had joined City Editor Reedy’s staff in 1888.She was a graduate of Pritchett Institute, Glasgow, Mo.,…The Mirror, founded by Michael Angelo Fanning and James Galvin early in the [Eighteen] Nineties, soon claimed her service and she continued to write for the new literary weekly after William M. Reedy became manager of it; in fact, until her marriage in 1896 to Thomas Davis Porcher. While with the Mirror she also did considerable special writing for the Star and some for the Globe-Democrat, Republic and Post-Dispatch.

            (Originally published in the St. Louis Reference Record in 1927).