The Famous Authors of Playboy
The late Hugh Hefner’s Playboy has its most obvious reputation as a salacious magazine, sure, but over the years, the publication has been home to many of its era’s greatest living authors. Writers from Ray Bradbury to Margaret Atwood to Norman Mailer contributed to the magazine, right into the 21st century. Read on to see who else did.
Mailer, a three-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize and one of the most distinguished American authors, wrote for the December 1976 issue of Playboy. His short story, “Trial of the Warlock,” is considered one of the magazine’s best. It appeared alongside an infamous interview with O.J. Simpson and a profile of David Bowie.
The year after its publication, Playboy printed a serialized version of Fahrenheit 451, spanned out between the March, April, and May 1954 issues of the magazine. Bradbury also contributed original content, like 1956 story “The First Night of Lent,” and was interviewed for Playboy as well.
Arguably the most successful children’s author in the world, Dahl’s publicized adult debut actually came in Playboy, via the short story “The Visitor” — an exploration of what he once called “the greatest fornicator of all time.” It was ultimately the basis for My Uncle Oswald, his only published adult novel.
Gabriel García Márquez
Márquez, author of such masterpieces as One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera, wrote a mysterious short story for Playboy in 1971. “The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World” observed the effects on a village after a “handsome” corpse washed up on the seashore.
Atwood, whose The Handmaid’s Tale recently spawned an Emmy-winning TV adaptation, was a semi-regularly published Playboy author. Some of her stories in the magazine include “The Bog Man” in 1991, “The Bad News” in 2006, and “The Age of Bottleneck” in 2008.
Japan’s most popular living author included a story he wrote for Playboy in his collection The Elephant Vanishes. “The Second Bakery Attack,” first published in 1985, begins with a man telling his new wife about an attack he and his friends made on a bakery when he was younger, and ends with the two carrying out on a “second” attack on a McDonald’s.
Before Jack Kerouac went On the Road, there was “Before the Road” — a short story that was printed in Playboy a few years after his landmark novel’s 1957 publication and fashioned as a prequel. He wrote other stories for the magazine as well, including “Good Blonde.”
Kurt Vonnegut was a frequent author for Playboy, going back to the early 1970s. More notably, however, the magazine printed an excerpt from Armageddon in Retrospect — his collection of stories and essays, published after his death in 2007 — around the time of its publication in 2008.
For the January 1979 issue of Playboy, Gore Vidal wrote “Sex Is Politics” — an essay about how the sexual attitudes of a given society are reflective of its politics. The essayist delved into sharp arguments of heteronormativity and patriarchy, an apt representation of his broader intellectual considerations.
Joseph Heller called “Yossarian Survives,” the short story published in Playboy in 1987, a lost chapter of Catch-22, about Yossarian’s Air Force training at the Lowry Field base in Denver. The story later appeared in the author’s story collection Catch as Catch Can.
Perhaps the author on this list most closely associated with Playboy, James Bond mastermind Ian Fleming was once said to be a “synonymous cultural force” with the magazine, particularly after its publication of his short story “The Hildebrand Rarity.” In 1963, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was published simultaneously as a hardcover book and as a series of Playboy excerpts.