Peter Fenelon Collier


Peter Fenelon Collier

Peter Fenelon Collier (December 12, 1849 – April 24, 1909) was the publisher of Collier's Weekly.

He was born in Myshall, County Carlow, Ireland in 1849 to Catherine Fenelon and Robert Collier. He emigrated to Dayton, Ohio in 1866 when he was seventeen years old. With his savings, he attended St. Mary's Seminary in Cincinnati for four years. He then worked for Sadler and Company a publisher of schoolbooks. With $300 he saved as a salesman, he bought the printing plates to Father Burke's Lectures. In a single year, his sales were $90,000. In July 1873 he married Catherine Dunne. In 1874, he published a biography of Pius IX and later published Chandler's Encyclopedia and Chamber's Encyclopedia. He then began publishing Collier's Library, a series of popular novels.

He later formed his own company producing books for the Roman Catholic market. He founded "Collier's Once a Week" in April, 1888. It was advertised as a magazine of "fiction, fact, sensation, wit, humor, news". By 1892, "Collier's Once a Week" had a circulation of over 250,000, and was one of the largest selling magazines in the United States. In 1895, its name was changed to Collier's Weekly: An Illustrated Journal. Collier recruited James H. Hare, one of the pioneers of photo-journalism. Norman Hapgood became editor of Collier's Weekly in 1903. He developed a reputation of employing the country's leading writers. In May, 1906, he commissioned Jack London to report on the San Francisco earthquake. Included in London's textual account were sixteen pages of black-and-white photographs.

Under Hapgood's guidance, Collier's Weekly became involved in muckraking journalism. The most important of these writers who contributed to the journal during this period included Ida Tarbell, C. P. Connolly, and Ray Stannard Baker. Campaigns instigated by Norman Hapgood involved the direct election of senators, reform of the child labor laws, slum clearance, and women's suffrage. In April 1905, an article by Upton Sinclair, "Is Chicago Meat Clean," helped persuade the Senate to pass the Pure Food and Drugs Act (1906) and the Meat Inspection Act (1906).

Peter Collier died in 1909. His son, Robert J. Collier, took over as publisher of Collier's Weekly. When Norman Hapgood joined Harper's Weekly in 1912, Robert Collier became the new editor. Circulation continued to grow, and by 1917, circulation reached one million.

Robert Collier (author) (1885-1950), his nephew, founded Robert Collier Publications.

References

*New York Times; April 24, 1909, Saturday; Doctor Too Late. Head of Publishing House. Worked His Own Way Up from a Humble Beginning to Ownership of Collier's Weekly.Peter F. Collier, publisher of Collier's Weekly and well known in society here and abroad, dropped dead of apoplexy in the Riding Club, at 7 East Fifty-eighth Street, early this morning. Mr. Collier had been attending the annual horse show which the club gives, and death overtook him as he was descending the stairs to the street.


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