Wallace, De Witt

Wallace, (William Roy) De Witt

(1889–1981) publisher; born in St. Paul, Minn. He was son of the dean (later president) of Macalaster College, which he attended, and later married his roommate's sister, Lila Bell Acheson (1889–1984; born in Manitoba, Canada). Working as a book salesman, he got the idea of a magazine that printed digests of other publications' articles. The first issue of the pocket-sized magazine, Reader's Digest, appeared in February 1922; sold only through the mail, it soon caught on, eventually becoming the world's largest circulation magazine, printed in 17 languages for 31 million readers in 168 countries; the firm also branched out into condensed books, original books, and recordings, all sold only through the mail.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.