For three quarters of a century, VQR's primary mission has been to sustain and strengthen Jefferson's bulwark, long describing itself as "A National Journal of Literature and Discussion." And for good reason. From its inception in prohibition, through depression and war, in prosperity and peace, the Virginia Quarterly Review has been a haven—and home—for the best essayists, fiction writers, and poets, seeking contributors from every section of the United States and abroad. It has not limited itself to any special field. No topic has been alien: literary, public affairs, the arts, history, the economy. If it could be approached through essay or discussion, poetry or prose, VQR has covered it.
Each issue has contained work both moving and memorable; each has sought to provide the best that contemporary literature can offer. VQR's distinguished history has included: essays from H. L. Mencken, Allen Tate, Bertrand Russell, Eleanor Roosevelt, Harry Ashmore, C. Vann Woodward, Cleanth Brooks, Dumas Malone, and Louis D. Rubin, Jr.; stories from Thomas Wolfe, Katherine Anne Porter, Peter Taylor, Ward Just, Joyce Carol Oates, Robert Olen Butler, Mark Harris, and Ann Beattie; poems from the likes of Robert Penn Warren, Robert Frost, Conrad Aiken, Marianne Moore, Randall Jarrell, James Dickey, Henry Taylor, and Rita Dove. And VQR has not only published the most celebrated names of contemporary writing; equally it has welcomed writers whose names were unknown until they appeared in its pages. VQR hews to one simple standard in its selection of writers: excellence.
VQR has thus made good its purpose of becoming a national publication of popularity and prestige, of independence and integrity. Readable and responsible, it is also entertaining. Though fresh as tomorrow's newspaper, each issue—read cover to cover upon publication—will still have value a decade later.