Books Abroad was founded in 1927 by a scholar of vision from Oklahoma, Roy Temple House. He devised as the journal's logo a full-rigged ship with the motto "Lux a Peregre" -- "Light from Abroad," or (as we choose to interpret it) "The Light of Discovery." The poetic yet apt image must, however, be coupled with that of a lighthouse which radiates back abroad the light received, for this has also been an essential function of the magazine.
From a modest seedling of thirty-two pages (January 1927), Books Abroad grew to 256 pages by the end of its fiftieth year (Autumn 1976), and that year's cover design reflected the completion of a significant circle. In January 1977, the journal became World Literature Today, reflecting the truly international range that its coverage and reputation had acquired. The journal is now in its 81st year of uninterrupted publication, the second-oldest such literary periodical in the United States, with every intention of continuing its proven mission to serve students, writers, and general readers.
For years, a quotation from Goethe has appeared on our masthead: “These journals, as they reach a wider public, will contribute most effectively to the universal world literature for which we are hoping. There can be no question, however, of nations thinking alike. The aim is simply that they shall grow aware of one another, understand one another, and, even where they may not be able to love, may at least tolerate one another.” Goethe’s words, first published in 1828, remain at the heart of our mission, even—or perhaps especially—in a world that has become increasingly globalized in the 21st century but remains fraught with national, linguistic, and political divisions.