Joseph Shaw (editor)

Joseph T. "Cap" Shaw (1874–1952) was the editor of Black Mask magazine from 1926 to 1936. Prior to becoming Black Mask editor, Shaw had worked as a newspaper reporter and as a soldier in World War I, attaining the rank of captain (Shaw's friends gave him the nickname "Cap"). [1] Shaw was also a professional fencer, and even won an Olympic medal for his fencing ability.[1][2] Under his editorship, Black Mask published many works of crime fiction now recognised as classics of the genre, by authors such as Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and Erle Stanley Gardner.[2][3][4]

Joseph Shaw
Joseph Thompson Shaw

(1874-05-08)May 8, 1874
DiedAugust 2, 1952(1952-08-02) (aged 78)
EducationBowdoin College
  • Editor
  • author
  • literary agent
Known forEditor of Black Mask magazine, 1926-36

Chandler greatly admired Shaw's ability to encourage Black Mask writers, claiming in a letter, "We wrote better for him than we could have written for anybody else".[1]

Despite Black Mask's critical and commercial popularity, Shaw was eventually fired from the magazine, succeeded by Fanny Ellsworth. Shaw then worked as a literary agent, though without notable success.[5]

Further readingEdit


  1. ^ a b c Danger is My Business: an illustrated history of the Fabulous Pulp Magazines by Lee Server. Chronicle Books, 1993, ISBN 0-8118-0355-4 (pp. 68-70).
  2. ^ a b Hired Pens : Professional Writers in America's Golden Age of print by Ronald Weber. Ohio University Press, 1997 ISBN 0-8214-1204-3 (p. 98)
  3. ^ Black Mask magazine Archived 2008-12-28 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "Pulps" by Robert Sampson, in Encyclopedia Mysteriosa, edited by William L. DeAndrea. MacMillan, 1994, ISBN 0-02-861678-2 (p.287-9)
  5. ^ Selected Letters of Raymond Chandler, Frank MacShane, ed., Columbia University Press, 1981, ISBN 0-231-05080-1 (pp. 5-8).