John Shuttleworth, Founder of Mother Earth News, Interview Part I

A Plowboy Interview with Shuttleworth who discusses his experiences living the self-reliant life that Mother Earth News is famous for, and how the idea for the magazine came about.

| January/February 1975

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    John and Jane Shuttleworth — both looking tired — sort through some of the thousands of letters that Mother Earth News recieves each week. Compare this photo to the one taken five years earlier.
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    This picture was taken just months before Jane and John founded Mother Earth News. It's been a wearing years.
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    Before he could see over the wheel, John was steering his dad's homemade tractor through farm jobs.
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    A typical 1970 scene in the lake cottage where the Shuttleworths started the magazine: Jane mails magazines.

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Unlike the founding editor-publishers of many magazines, John Shuttleworth does not particularly care to fill the pages of his baby — Mother Earth News — with signed articles of opinion or pictures of himself. As a matter of fact, it's even difficult to tell by reading the masthead that Shuttleworth and his wife, Jane, founded the magazine in the first place.

"Jane and I are both rather introverted farm people, "John says, "and we weren't looking for glamor when we started Mother Earth News. Besides, just the two of us did everything in the beginning and it would have been ridiculous to put our names on the masthead 10 or 15 times each back then. We just kind of got into the habit of listing ourselves once with no title and letting it go at that. "

And so it goes still. Little wonder that new subscribers to the magazine frequently wonder who is responsible for the periodical and how it came to be published.

In honor of the successful completion of the magazine's fifth year and in an effort to attract new people into the ecology and alternative lifestyle publishing field, Shuttleworth has finally — and somewhat reluctantly — agreed to answer those and other questions.

PLOWBOY: John, let's begin at the beginning. How did you come to found Mother Earth News?

SHUTTLEWORTH: You have to go back far more than five years to get the answer to that one. And don't be surprised to learn that the question might have been more apt if you had asked how Mother Earth News came to found me.



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