Bertha Everett Mahony was born in Rockport, MA, in 1882. After a year at the Secretarial School at Simmons College, she joined the staff of the Women’s Educational and Industrial Union (WEIU), a Boston institution organized to protect and promote the status of working women, as Assistant Secretary in 1906. Ten years later, under the auspices of the WEIU, she opened the Bookshop for Boys and Girls, where she worked tirelessly to ensure that her customers had access to the best new children’s books available.
The store regularly sponsored story hours, art exhibits, and a poetry series where such luminaries as Carl Sandberg, Robert Frost, T.S. Eliot, and Archibald MacLeish came to read their works to children. All of these activities were designed to instill in young patrons a lifelong love of reading. In 1916, eager to reach a wider public with information on good books, Miss Mahony engineered an arrangement with the WEIU and a variety of publishers to underwrite costs for a traveling book caravan.
In 1924, with her colleague Elinor Whitney, Bertha Mahony founded The Horn Book Magazine, the first magazine exclusively devoted to children’s books and reading. In 1932, the year of her marriage to William Davis Miller, she withdrew from the bookshop to concentrate her energies on publishing the Magazine, which had amiably ended its association with the WEIU.
Bertha Mahony Miller died in 1969 at her home in Ashburnham, MA. Her energy, commitment, and dedication to finding and promoting the best books available for children and young adults are still a driving force behind The Horn Book Magazine.
About or by Bertha Mahony Miller
October 1924 Horn Book Editorial
Bertha Mahony Miller’s inaugural editorial
Article about Bertha Mahony Miller in Atlantic Monthly, June 1929
Clippings of articles about Bertha Mahony Miller and the book caravan
Reminiscences of early Horn Book days (September/October 1999 Horn Book Magazine)
- Elizabeth Orton Jones
An old friend remembers her neighbor
- Lee Kingman Natti
A young reader visits the bookshop
Barbara Bader’s 1999 Horn Book Magazine pieces on Bertha Mahony Miller and Horn Book history
- Treasure Island by the Roadside (January/February 1999)
Selling children’s books off the back of a truck
- Peter Says Please (March/April 1999)
Beatrix Potter befriends the Horn Book
- Politi for Christmas (May/June 1999)
An up-and-coming artist’s holiday keepsake
- Realms of Gold and Granite (September/October 1999)
Miss Mahony opens her Bookshop for Boys and Girls in 1916
- One Childhood, One World (November/December 1999)
The Horn Book’s global vision was always clear
Beatrix & Bertha by Lolly Robinson (July/August 2006 Horn Book Magazine)
Why Beatrix Potter cottoned to Bertha Miller