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Top 50 Literary Magazines


A couple of things about this list before we get to it. First we know that many will not agree fully, and some will feel we’ve left a good or great publication off the list. That’s okay. The best thing to do is go to our message boards and post your opinion under our top 50 boards and make a case for adding it to this list. The factors we used were date established, number of submissions, number of inclusions in national anthologies, and circulation.

            The best literary magazines, we feel, are not that difficult to identify. They are the magazines that have been publishing consistently for many years. EWR remember isn’t just about reading or rating, it’s about writers. We’ve chosen magazines that are always gaining attention not just for themselves but for the writers they publish. After all what good is a list of great magazines if they don’t continuously find new and great talent as well as publish consistent content and have those writers works places in national anthologies?

            You will not find the New Yorker or Atlantic Monthly on this list, or any “commercial” magazine for that matter. They do not accept unsolicited submissions and would do our writers no good at all. This list also includes BOLD type where literary magazines take online submissions. We feel this is an important step for a magazine to take. We feel that by taking submissions online magazines are opening themselves up to many more voices and have a better opportunity to find new talent that we want to read. To this end, we have a suggestion. Go down this list and pick out a literary magazine that takes online submissions. Go to their site and submit your work. Also while you are there buy a subscription. Support those that support writers.

            We are working on a rating system for all print literary magazines, and we hope to unveil that system soon. Until then here’s our top 50 in no particular order:


Top 50 Literary Magazines

  1. Granta   
    • Est. 1889, one of the oldest literary magazines around. It has published many great authors like Raymond Carver, Richard Ford, Tobias Wolff and many others. A rough circulation is 50,000-80,000.


  1. The Paris Review 
    • Est. 1953 and is simply one of the best literary magazines in the world. They have been publishing great authors for many years. A rough circulation is 20,000.


  1. Prairie Schooner 
    • Est. 1927 and has consistently published some of the best writers in the world. They are the presenters of the Faulkner Award among others. The magazine has won every important national award, and it is always gaining attention for writers. A rough circulation over 5,000.


  1. Kenyon Review 
    • Est. 1939 and is one of the best literary magazines in the country hands down. The magazine helped start the careers of writers like Flannery O’Conner and Robert Lowell. They take online submissions. EWR recommends you submit your work AND buy a subscription.  


  1. Poetry 
    • Est. 1912 and is consistently the best publisher of poets in the country. They are always at the top of the list. To give you some idea of this magazines influence, an author from this journal has had work included in Best American Poetry 72 times in the 19 years BAP has been in publication. It is second only to The New Yorker (keep in mind The New Yorker hand picks most of its poems and has no unsolicited submissions).


  1. Virginia Quarterly Review 
    • Est. 1925 and has published great authors like Robert Frost and Joyce Carol Oates. The magazine has influence. Taking online submissions.


  1. New Letters 
    • Est. 1934 once named The Review later renamed. It publishes great work by great authors.


  2. The Yale Review 
    • Est. 1819 but was later renamed and became The Yale Review in 1911. The magazine has published unknown authors like John Cheever. They are always a good read and a great place to publish work.


  1. Glimmer Train 
    • Est. 1990 and is a nationally distributed magazine. They have published some of Americans best literary authors. A rough circulation is over 15,000. Their authors are often chosen for inclusion in national anthologies. Takes online submissions.


  1. Tin House 
    • Est. 1998 is simply a great publication. They publish the best authors and you always seem to see some big names gracing the pages. The rough circulation is 10,000-15,000.


  1. Zoetrope 
    • Est. 1997 Founded by Francis Ford Coppola and publishes has published many great authors. A rough circulation is 15,000-20,000.


  1. The Sun 
    • Est. 1974 and has a great has a seemingly ever-growing appeal. They consistently publish outstanding authors. A rough circulation of 60,000.


  1. The Threepenny Review 
    • Est. 1980 and consistently publishes outstanding authors. You will always see this publication at the top of the national anthology awards list for authors. A rough circulation of 10,000.


  1. Ploughshares 
    • Est. 1971, this magazine consistently has authors featured in national anthologies. It is among the best literary publications in existence. A rough circulation is 4,000-5,000. Takes online submissions.
  2. Mississippi Review 
    • Est. 1978, and consistently publishes outstanding writers. The circulation of this magazine is hard to determine because of its web presence. It was somewhat of a pioneer when it comes to literary magazines online, and its efforts in cyberspace greatly increased its appeal. Online submissions for web edition.


  1. Storyquarterly 
    • Est. 1975 and consistently publishes outstanding authors. A rough circulation is over 5,000. Takes online submissions.


  1. Missouri Review 
    • Est. 1978, and publishes great authors and gets them attention. Online submission for a $3 fee (about the price of sending by mail and much less headache).


  1. The Iowa Review 
    • Est. 1971 and is consistently publishing great authors from the heart of a writers central. Some may not know that the Iowa Writer’s Workshop is and has been the best writing program in the country for the last, at least, 40 years.  


  1. South West Review 
    • Est. 1915, and has been included in numerous anthologies each year. It publishes new and established writers.


  1. Other Voices 
    • Est. 1984 and has published as long list of great authors like Jane Smiley, Peter Ho Davis, and many others. It is a writer’s and literary reader’s magazines that will take chances.


  1. Triquarterly 
    • Est. 1958 and has Rita Dove and Richard Ford as two of the many outstanding contributing editors. This magazine has been heralded as one of the best by many.


  1. Hanging Loose 
    • Est. 1966 and is always grabbing awards. Loves new writers.  


  2. North American Review 
    • Est. 1815 and is the oldest and one of the best literary publications in the country. 


  1. The Georgia Review 
    • Est. 1947 and consistently wins awards for authors and for itself. The magazine always publishes great work.


  1. The Gettysburg Review 
    • Est. 1988 and has been featured in Best American Poetry over 20 times. The magazine consistently catches attention for its authors.


  1. Indiana Review 
    • Est. 1982 and consistently publishes great good work.


  1. Mid-American Review 
    • Est. 1972 and consistently wins awards for both itself and authors.


  1. The Antioch Review 
    • Est. 1941 and consistently publishes great authors.


  1. Black Warrior Review 
    • Est. 1974 and is a great literary publication. It has published many outstanding authors many works from this publication have appeared in national anthologies.


  1. New England Review 
    • Est. 1978 and is has always published great work.


  1. The Malahat Review 
    • Est. 1967 and is one of Canada’s leading literary magazines.


  1. The Michigan Quarterly Review 
    • Est. 1967 and is consistently at the top of literary magazine publishing.


  1. The Colorado Review 
    • Est. 1955 and is among the top literary magazines.


  1. Conjunctions 
    • Est. 1981 consistently one of the top magazines in the literary publishing world, and it has racked up over 10 inclusions in Best American Poetry.


  1. Exquisite Corpse 
    • Est. 1983 as a print publication and the only fully online journal on or top 50. The publication was founded and is edited by Andrei Codrescu. Will begin taking submissions again online (?) in May of 2007.


  1. New American Writing 
    • Est. 1986 and consistently publishing great work. It has been named a “best” magazine from a few different reputable sources.


  1. Hambone (no website?)
    • Est. 1974 and consistently racks up literary awards, but the magazine seems to have no website.


  1. Hudson Review 
    • Est. 1947 and is always publishing great writers. They are often included in American anthologies.


    • Est. 1985 for west coast writers. The magazine always manages to win awards and have it writers show up in national anthologies.


  1. American Poetry Review 
    • Est. 1972 and is always gaining attention for writers. Their circulation is 17,000.


  1. Chelsea 
    • Est. 1958, and has won many awards. It is always publishing good writers.


  1. Callaloo 
    • Est. 1976 and has been included in Best American Poetry 16 times.


  1. Fiction 
    • Est. 1972 and has been honored many times by national anthologies.


  1. Salmagundi 
    • Est. 1965 and is consistently at the top of literary lists.


  1. Shenandoah 
    • Est. 1950 and consistently one of the best literary magazines in the country.


  1. Nimrod 
    • Est. 1956 and is always publishing new and established writers.


  1. Agni 
    • Est. 1972 and has work included in both Best America Short Stories and Best American Poetry.


  1. Witness 
    • Est. 1987 and has been included in both Best American Short Stories and Best American Poetry. The magazine seems every gaining in its attention for writers.


  1. Five Points 
    • Est. 1996 and one of the newest magazines on the list, but it is always gaining attention for its writers. It has been honored many times and included in Best American Short Stories as well as Best American Poetry.


  1. Boulevard 
    • Est. 1985 and has made a very good name for itself. The magazine publishes great authors and has influence in the literary community. Has contest for new writers.