Phillips, David Graham

Phillips, David Graham,

1867–1911, American writer, b. Madison, Ind., grad. College of New Jersey (now Princeton), 1887. He worked as a newspaper reporter in Cincinnati and New York City, rising to editorial rank on the New York World, for which he wrote until 1902. Phillips became noted as a muckrakermuckrakers,
name applied to American journalists, novelists, and critics who in the first decade of the 20th cent. attempted to expose the abuses of business and the corruption in politics.
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 and was famous as the author of a series of sensational articles exposing corruption in the U.S. Senate that appeared in Cosmopolitan magazine (1906). He also wrote articles for the Saturday Evening Post and other journals of the period. Phillips's novels, powerful although often crude, deal with corruptive influences in society and general social problems, such as the status of women. Among them are The Great God Success (1901), The Conflict (1911), and Susan Lenox: Her Fall and Rise (1917). Phillips was murdered by a young musician who accused him of having cast literary slurs on his family.


See study by A. C. Ravitz (1966); I. F. Marcosson, David Graham Phillips and His Times (1932).

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Phillips, David Graham

(1867–1911) journalist, novelist; born in Madison, Ind. After graduating from the College of New Jersey (later Princeton), he became a journalist, eventually on the New York World (1893–1902), where he wrote editorials for publisher Joseph Pulitzer and went on special assignments, such as covering the Greco-Turkish War (1897). After the success of his first novel, The Great God Success (1901), he became a free-lance writer, publishing more than 20 others. His novels often depicted corruption in government or industry; some, such as Susan Lenox: Her Rise and Fall (published posthumously in 1917), dealt with such issues as the place of women in society. He also wrote articles, especially for the Saturday Evening Post —most notably a series attacking corruption in the U.S. Senate; a disparaging reference to this series by President Theodore Roosevelt led to the first use of the term "muckraking." In 1911 Phillips was shot to death by a deranged man angered by one of his novels. Phillips's fiction, though popular at the time, later fell into oblivion.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.