Edward Bok, the Dutch-born American editor and author who is credited with coining the term “living room” was born today in 1863. Now WE know em


Eduard Willem Gerard Cesar Hidde Bok was born October 9,1863 in the Netherlands.

At the age of six, he and his family immigrated to Brooklyn, New York.

His family was so poor that he washed the windows of a bakery shop after school and then went out in the street with a basket every day collecting stray bits of coal that had fallen in the gutter off of coal wagons.

In 1882, Edward Bok began work with Henry Holt and Company, and then, in 1884, he became involved with Charles Scribner’s Sons, where he eventually became its advertising manager.

From 1884 until 1887, Bok was the editor of The Brooklyn Magazine, and in 1886, he founded The Bok Syndicate Press.

After moving to Philadelphia in 1889, he obtained the editorship of Ladies Home Journal, when its founder and editor, Louisa Knapp Curtis, stepped down to a less intense role at the popular, nationally-circulated publication.


In 1896, Edward married Mary Louise Curtis, the daughter of Louisa and Cyrus Curtis.

Edward Bok and Mary Louise Bok with Leopold Stokowski before 1920

Edward Bok and Mary Louise Bok with Leopold Stokowski before 1920

During his editorship, the Journal became the first magazine in the world to have one million subscribers and it became very influential among readers by featuring informative and progressive ideas in its articles.

Living Room

Edward Bok is credited with coining the term “living room” as the name for the room of a house that had been commonly referred to as a parlor or drawing room.

His own parlor or drawing room had traditionally only been used on Sundays or for formal occasions such as the displaying of deceased family members before burial.

Edward believed it was foolish to create an expensively furnished room that was rarely used, and promoted this new name to encourage families to use the room more frequently in their daily lives.

Edward wrote in Ladies home Journal, ” We have what is called a ‘drawing room’. Just whom or what it ‘draws’ I have never been able to see unless it draws attention to too much money and no taste…”

Then in 1919, after thirty years at the journal, Edward Bok retired.

In 1923, he proposed the American Peace Award.

Then in 2008, THE AMERICAN PEACE AWARD began being awarded to an American citizen or citizens who best represent the spirit of world peace through their thoughts and actions. The Award seeks to pay homage to those people who have fought tirelessly to bring awareness to Peace and Justice.

In 1924, his wife Mary founded the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, which she dedicated to her father, Cyrus Curtis, and in 1927, the Boks embarked upon the construction of Bok Tower Gardens, near their winter home in Mountain Lake Estates, Lake Wales, Florida, which was dedicated on February 1, 1929 by the President of the United States, Calvin Coolidge.

Today, Bok Tower is called a sanctuary and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a National Landmark.

His 1920 autobiography, The Americanization of Edward Bok, won the Gold Medal of the Academy of Political and Social Science and the Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography.

Edward W. Bok died on January 9, 1930.

 Now WE know em


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