This article argues that, through her regular “Letter from London” column, British writer Mollie Panter-Downes was a key figure in transforming “The New Yorker” from a humorous weekly into a serious venue for literature and political content after World War II. This transformation, moreover, involved a recasting of individual experience in terms of global realities. Total war necessitated language and style that would make vast, seemingly incomprehensible events meaningful, but not overwhelming, to the individual subject. Drawing on material from the New Yorker records at the New York Public Library, I show how Panter-Downes's literary journalistic aesthetic facilitated this sea-change.

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