Lewis Henry Lapham (/ˈlæpəm/; born January 8, 1935) is an American writer. He was the editor of the American monthly Harper's Magazine from 1976 until 1981, and from 1983 until 2006. He is the founder of Lapham's Quarterly, a quarterly publication about history and literature, and has written numerous books on politics and current affairs.
A son of Lewis A. Lapham and Jane Foster, Lapham was born and grew up in San Francisco. His grandfather Roger Lapham was mayor of San Francisco, and his great grandfather, Lewis Henry Lapham, was a founder of Texaco. Through his grandfather, Lapham is a first cousin once removed of actor Christopher Lloyd, although they are three years apart in age. As a child, he attended the Hotchkiss School.
Lapham was educated at Magdalene College, Cambridge and Yale University, where he joined the literary society St. Anthony Hall.
In 1972, Lapham married Joan Brooke Reeves, the daughter of Edward J. Reeves, a stockbroker and grocery heir, and Elizabeth M. Brooke (formerly the wife of Thomas Wilton Phipps, a nephew of Nancy Astor). They have three children:
Delphina (married Prince Don Bante Maria Boncompagni-Ludovisi)
Andrew (married Caroline Mulroney, only daughter of former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney)
Lewis Lapham served as editor of Harper's Magazine from 1976 to 2006 (with a hiatus from 1981 to 1983). He was managing editor from 1971 to 1975, after having worked for the San Francisco Examiner and the New York Herald Tribune. He is largely responsible for the modern look and prominence of the magazine, having introduced many of its signature features, including the "Harper's Index". He announced that he would become editor emeritus in spring 2006, continuing to write his Notebook column for the magazine as well as editing a new journal about history, Lapham's Quarterly. Lapham has also worked with the PEN American Center, sitting on the board of judges for the PEN/Newman's Own First Amendment Award. In 2007, he was inducted into the American Society of Magazine Editors' Hall of Fame.
His writing has appeared in The American Conservative Life, Commentary, Vanity Fair, National Review, Yale Literary Magazine, ELLE, Fortune, Forbes, American Spectator, The New York Times, The Walrus, Maclean's, The Observer (London), and the Wall Street Journal. Lapham also served as a judge for the PEN/Newman's Own First Amendment Award.
Lapham is the host and author of the PBS series, America's Century and he was host of the weekly PBS series, Bookmark.
Lapham is currently the host of The World in Time: radio discussions with scholars and historians on Bloomberg Radio that open the doors of history behind the events in the news. Podcasts of the weekly talks are available at Bloomberg.com.
Lapham wrote The American Ruling Class (2005), a movie done in documentary style and featuring fictional characters and real people, i.e. Bill Bradley, Hodding Carter III and Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed, pondering the question "Is there a ruling class in America?", Lapham states at the movie's conclusion that "if you're not in, you're out". The movie aired on the Sundance Channel, July 30, 2007.