Abbott Joseph (A.J.) Liebling was the legendary journalist who spent many years writing for The New Yorker magazine. He was born into a wealthy family on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. He attended Dartmouth College, where he wrote for the Jack-O-Lantern, its nationally known humor magazine. He left Dartmouth without graduating, later claiming he was thrown out for "missing compulsory chapel attendance." He then enrolled in the School of Journalism at Columbia University. He began his career as a reporter at the Providence Evening Bulletin and worked briefly in the sports department of the New York Times.
In 1926, his father offered him the chance to study in Paris for a year, which he seized. He studied French medieval literature at the Sorbonne and began a life-long love affair with French life, culture, and cuisine. After returning to the USA, he campaigned for a job on The New York World, which he won. In 1934, he married Mary Anne Quinn, who was often hospitalized for mental illness during their marriage.
They were later divorced and he married author Jean Stafford.
Liebling joined The New Yorker in 1935. During World War II, he served as a war correspondent in North Africa, England, and France, and took part in the D-Day invasion of Normandy. He became famous for his reporting on fine food, politics, horse racing, boxing, and journalism itself. Slate Magazine wrote, "If Liebling didn't invent press criticism, he might as well have. Liebling still ranks so high that, in 2000 when the New Republic's Franklin Foer wanted to take the Washington Post's media reporter Howard Kurtz down a couple of point sizes, he wrote that Kurtz was no Liebling. . .Foer's gist was clear: A few writers may occasionally reach Lieblingesque heights in their press criticism, but nobody survives at the long-dead master's altitude for very long."