History of Hippocampus Magazine

banner that says history with conference speakers faded in back

Founder Donna Talarico first dreamed of Hippocampus Magazine while she was working on her MFA in creative writing at Wilkes University. More specifically, this brainstorm happened during a morning residency publishing class led by Phil Brady (Etruscan Press) and Chris Busa (Provincetown Arts). She bought the domain name in 2009 but sat on it for a few years. (She figured she should focus on her thesis first. That, and a little bit of procrastination.)

In late 2010, the idea gained new traction. Then, during an ‘alumni crashing’ at the January 2011 Wilkes creative writing residency, Donna caught up with her mentor, Becky Bradway. Over a few winter lagers and some meaningful conversation, Becky provided a seal of approval and warm encouragement. A few weeks later, the idea was introduced to the world with a call for submissions for the May 2011 debut issue.

Donna’s vision was to create not just a literary magazine filled with fresh memoir excerpts and memorable essays, but also to develop a venue to educate and inform those interested in reading and writing creative nonfiction. Adding craft articles, book reviews and interviews would add value to Hippocampus Magazine. A mix of timely and timelessness.

Hippocampus Magazine Timeline & Milestones

  • Summer 2009 – seed was planted, domain bought
  • December 2010 – idea began to move forward
  • January 2011 – website launched; call for submissions opened
  • May 2011 – debut issue
  • November 2011 – first Remember in November Contest for Creative Nonfiction
  • July 2012 – first theme issue (rock-n-roll)
  • April 2015 – first time exhibiting at AWP conference (Minneapolis)
  • 2015-2016 – significant growth in volunteer team
  • August 2015 – debut of HippoCamp: A Conference for Creative Nonfiction Writers
  • 2016-2017 – introduced more section editor positions (reviews, craft, writing life, social media)
  • August 2016 – announcement of small press division, Books by Hippocampus
  • January 2017 – Hippocampus Magazine becomes paying market for creative nonfiction submissions
  • February 2017 – first print anthology released (Selected Memories: Five Years of Hippocampus Magazine)
  • June 2017 – announced first two single-author titles for Books by Hippocampus
  • October 2017 – launched monthly sponsorship program and welcomed first advertisers
  • January 2018 – moved to 10 issues per year, with two expanded issues
  • June 2018 – released first single-author book, By the Forces of Gravity by Rebecca Fish Ewan
  • January 2019 – moved to 5 bi-monthly issues, with special single issues in Nov. and Dec.
  • August 2019 – launched Friends of Hippocampus Magazine membership program to help sustain magazine through reader support
  • January 2021 – moved to bi-monthly issues
  • December 2022 – relaunched Books by Hippocampus website on new ecommerce platform
  • January 2023 – announced hiatus of HippoCamp to refocus on magazine and (re)build sustainable foundation

We’ve also been honored to have been featured in/on a variety of newspapers, magazines, and podcasts throughout the years, some of them which celebrate the milestones listed here. Learn more on our In the Media Page.

The Story Behind Our Name, Hippocampus Magazine

The hippocampus is what makes enjoying great memoir possible because, without it, memories would not exist. The hippocampus is the sea-horse-shaped part of the brain where long-term memories are formed. (That also explains our logo!) What a more fitting name for an online magazine committed to drawing on personal memories! When we introduced our annual conference for creative nonfiction writers, we chose a name that played off our title and gave a nod to summer camp.

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