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20 Amazing Writers Who Wrote For Hugh Hefner's PlayBoy

Culture October 5, 2017 By Vincent

In a famous aside to his Playmates, Hugh Hefner once said to his infamous centerfolds at a magazine anniversary party: "Ladies, it's been a wonderful 25 years, and I owe it all to you. Without you, I would have had nothing but a literary magazine."

This may be a little removed from the truth but it was a wry nod to how Playboy tried to corner the market in class and taste whilst still essentially offering the main draw of nude women and one way it did this was by offering fine writing and poignant think pieces to raise it to a level of respectability that other skin mags could only hope for. Here we take a look of some of the notable names who have contributed work to the magazine.

Norman Mailer

A pioneer in journalism who went on to write some of the best known American literature of his age that captured Americana in all its folly and greatness side by side. During the iconic 'Rumble in The Jungle' fight between Muhammed Ali and Geroge Foreman in 1874, Playboy sent Mailer down to Zaire to cover it.

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Producing a two-part article on the famous bout, Mailer would later expand upon what he had seen and written into the book, 'The Fight'. 

Kingsley Amis

One of the finest comic novelists of the 20th century, Kingsley Amis often wrote short stories for the Playboy magazine throughout the 1960s and 70s.

A Booker prize winner and a recipient of a CBE, Amis was highly lauded by critics.

Kurt Vonnegut

Famous for his anti-war rhetoric in his writings, this viewpoint was largely formed by his time as a POW in Dresden at the time of the bombings and a notable collection on the subject matter of this was Armageddon in Retrospect. 

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The first posthumous collection of Vonnegut's, it contained several new short stories and essays alongside a letter to his family, drawings and a speech and Playboy was the first magazine to publish excerpts from it. You can read the story 'Welcome to The Monkey House' which was published in the magazine, here.

Hunter S. Thompson

The godfather of gonzo journalism, Hunter S Thompson wrote a long-form article about covering a deep-sea fishing tournament in Mexico and Playboy went on to publish it.

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This article, which can be viewed by clicking on this link here, along with several other autobiographical essays would go on to form the book 'The Great Shark Hunt'.

Truman Capote

The man who single-handedly invented the true crime genre and revolutionized writing in doing so, Capote was a close friend of many of his contemporaries at the tie including Harper Lee and Tennesse Williams.

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It was after the death of the latter that Capote wrote an essay on some of the more outrageous stories from his time with Tennessee which can be read here. He was also subject to an interview by the magazine in 1968.

 James Baldwin

Noted for exploring intricacies of racial, sexual, and class distinctions in Western societies, Baldwin was also a civil rights activist during its most critical period in America.

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“Words of a Native Son,” published in the December 1964 issue, was an essay rather than a work of fiction on the nature of writing.

 Vladimir Nabokov

The writer of the controversial phenomenon Lolita actually had two full novels published within the pages of the magazine.

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In 2009, Playboy also won the right to publish his unfinished last novel The Original of Laura and printed a5,000-word extract of it.

 Margaret Atwood

An interesting case in terms of political and social outlook as Atwood's writings are firmly considered feminist pieces and so her publication in Playboy is seen as rather controversial despite Hefner pronouncing himself a feminist too.

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Several of her short stories made it into the magazine including 'The Bog Man'.

Will Self

A writer of fiction that is known to be fiction is known for being satirical, grotesque, and fantastical, Self is considered one of the most notable British authors alive.

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But his think pieces on modern life as well as pieces of fiction have graced the pages of Playboy too.

Chuck Palanuick

The man who brought us 'Fight Club' and 'Invisible Monsters' had several stories published in the magazine as it was one of the few places that was prepared to publish his explicit and grotesque stories (much like those for Self).

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Stories such as 'Zombie' and 'Guts' were printed by Playboy and the latter can be read online by clicking here.

Ray Bradbury

A sci-fi behemoth, Bradbury was regularly associated with Playboy publishing excerpts of his iconic novel Fahrenheit 451 and it was an early coup for Hefner to win the rights to serialize it.

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Bradbury also regularly wrote original content too such as his 1956 story 'The First Night of Lent'. 

John Steinbeck

How a man who became so solidly associated with literature about struggling dustbowl America found himself writing for the extravagances of Playboy we may never know but Steinbeck appeared in the publication more than once.

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Opinions and stories both made their way in and found an avid audience.

 Haruki Murakami

Perhaps Japan's best known contemporary writer, Murakami often writes surreal and fantastical pieces and his 1992 piece 'The Second Bakery Attack' is no different to this.

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About a failed attack on a bakery, a man then decides to ambush a McDonald's restaurant and can be read here.

Ursula LeGuin

Another feminist writer, LeGuin had her story 'Nine Lives' published in the magazine but under the byline UK Le Guin because a Playboy editor said: "many of our readers are frightened by stories by women authors".

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She later admitted that it was the first time she had encountered prejudice as a female writer saying "but it is surprising to me to realize how thoughtlessly I went along with them". The story can be read here.

Roald Dahl

Mostly noted for his children's literature, his more adult-oriented pieces were bizarre, ludicrous and often explicit and with a sexual nature and his four short stories published between 1965-74 certainly covered those bases.

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They later all featured in the book 'Switch Bitch'.

Jack Kerouac

Legend of the beat generation, Kerouac pioneered free-form writing in his iconic novel 'On The Road' which became an instant classic.

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Two years after its publication, he wrote a short prequel for Playboy. The typed manuscript was the top seller when Playboy held an auction in 2003, fetching $71,700.

Ian Fleming

It is perhaps no surprise that the man who brought the world the womanizing, super spy James Bond wrote stories for Playboy and his novel On Her Majesty's Secret Service was serialized in the magazine in 1963.

The film adaptation of this novel then had a nod to this with actor George Lazenby pictured reading a copy of the magazine. Fleming also had several other short stories published in Playboy.

Arthur C Clarke

One of the most prolific writers of his time, Arthur C. Clarke had many short stories in the magazine including 'Dial F For Frankenstein' in which the idea of an interconnected telephone network is included and Tim Berners Lee claims was partly the inspiration behind the world wide web. But perhaps more famously was the subject of an interview that appeared in the July 1986.

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In it, he admitted to having a "bisexual experience" and even added, "If anyone had ever told me that he hadn't, I'd have told him he was lying." You can read it here.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

A Nobel Laureate, Marquez found his story of a tiny fishing village enchanted by a corpse in Playboys pages when he wrote 'The Most Handsome Drowned Man In The World'.

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Considered one of the greatest writers of the modern era, the Colombian's story can be read here.

Alice Denham

In 1956, Alice Denham was a struggling novelist at the time and was working at a grocery store to support herself so when she submitted to her story Playboy, they also discovered she was a part-time model as well and she agreed to pose for them too in the same issue.Denham later got her novel  The Deal, about a young woman who agrees to sleep with an aged gambler for $1,000, published and also went on to star in the film Olga's Girls.


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