Luce, Henry Robinson, 1898-1967

Alternative names
Birth 1898-04-03
Death 1967-02-28

Biographical notes:

Editor, publisher, and philanthropist.

From the description of Henry Robinson Luce papers, 1917-1967 (bulk 1945-1967). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 70979868

Epithet: American publisher

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000000705.0x0000d4

Biographical Note

  • 1898, Apr. 3: Born, Shantung Province, China, in Presbyterian mission house
  • 1908 - 1912 : Attended Chefoo School, Chefoo [Yantai], China
  • 1912 - 1913 : Attended St. Alban's School north of London, England
  • 1913 - 1916 : Attended Hotchkiss School, Lakeville, Conn.
  • 1920: B.A., Yale University, New Haven, Conn.
  • 1920 - 1921 : Student, Oxford University, Oxford, England
  • 1921 - 1922 : Reporter, Chicago Daily News and Baltimore Sun
  • 1923: Cofounded Time with Briton Hadden Married Lila Holz (divorced 1935)
  • 1930: Founded Fortune
  • 1930 - 1938 : Editor-in-chief, Time Publications
  • 1931: First “March of Time” radio program
  • 1935: First “March of Time” newsreel Married Clare Boothe Brokaw
  • 1936: Founded Life
  • 1938: Editorial director, Time, inc.
  • 1940: Organizer, United China Relief
  • 1944: Initiated Commission on Freedom of the Press
  • 1947: Awarded Order of Auspicious Star (China)
  • 1952: Founded House and Home
  • 1954: Founded Sports Illustrated
  • 1964: Retired from Time/Life
  • 1967, Feb. 28: Died, Phoenix, Ariz.

From the guide to the Henry Robinson Luce Papers, 1917-1967, (bulk 1945-1967), (Manuscript Division Library of Congress)

Henry Winters Luce (HWL) was born on September 24, 1868, son of Van Rensselaer William and Adelia (Tedrick) Luce. He received a B.A. from Yale in 1892. Luce gave up his original plan for a career in law and enrolled in Union Theological Seminary in New York City in order to train for the parish ministry. There he came under the influence of the Student Volunteer Movement and decided to offer himself as a missionary to China. In 1894 he interrupted his theological education for a year of service as one of three traveling agents of the Student Volunteer Movement, visiting colleges in the South and Southwest while two fellow Yale alumni and Union classmates--Sherwood Eddy, who had volunteered for India, and Horace T. Pitkin, another China volunteer--toured the East and Midwest. At the conclusion of this mission Luce transferred to Princeton Theological Seminary with his friend Eddy for the final year of ministerial training and was granted the B.D. degree in 1896. He married Elizabeth Middleton Root in 1896, and in 1897 they went to China under the Presbyterian Foreign Mission Board, sponsored by the Lackawanna Presbytery in Scranton, PA. Luce occupied various key roles in the management and establishment of Shantung Christian University (ca. 1897-1917), Peking University (ca. 1921-1925, later known as Yenching University), and the China Christian Educational Association. He corresponded with hundreds of people in regards to support, cooperation, and fundraising for university buildings and programs, and for relief programs in China. Following his return from China, Luce served as Professor in the Chinese Department at Kennedy School of Missions, Hartford, Connecticut.

All of the Luces' children were born in China. They were: Henry Robinson Luce (1898-1967), Emmavail Luce (Severinghaus) (1899-1985), Elisabeth Middleton Luce (Moore) (1903-2002), and Sheldon Root Luce (1911-1985). Henry Robinson Luce (HRL), was founder and editor of TIME, Fortune, LIFE, and Sports Illustrated magazines.

Henry Winters Luce had a close relationship with his children, often offering advice to them, especially his sons. For example, he prepared a long list of reading material (The Koran, The World's Living Religions, A Short History of China, etc.) for Sheldon's 6-week passage from Genoa to the U.S., even suggesting specific reading materials for specific points on the journey.

A perpetual student, Luce studied Chinese in the early years, apparently taking even a course in Physics as part of his language study. He was an avid reader throughout his life. In his letters, he sometimes wrote in Chinese characters, "E loo ping-ahn" (all the way, peace), to speed a parting guest. Luce lived simply, "like a ‘Quaker', with rigor and a strong sense of purpose. He died at age 73 on December 8, 1941. His wife Elizabeth died in 1948.

From the guide to the Henry Winters Luce Family Papers, 1877-1951, 1910-1941, (Yale Divinity School Library)


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Ark ID:


  • Universities and colleges--China
  • Missionaries--China
  • Presbyterian Church--Washington (D.C.)
  • Missions--China
  • Social problems
  • Civil rights
  • Presbyterian Church
  • Newspapers
  • Journalism
  • Endowments
  • Education
  • International law
  • Christianity
  • Social history
  • Ecology


  • Philanthropists
  • Editors
  • Publisher


  • China (as recorded)
  • China (as recorded)
  • Washington (D.C.) (as recorded)