What’s In A Name: The Genesis of “Fourteen Hills”

Back in October, we started wondering how the SFSU review came to be named after the picturesque hills in its hometown. Michelle Carter, a member of our esteemed creative writing faculty, brought to our attention the quote that inspired the name:

“The greatness of Rome is somehow associated – whether correctly or not – with the fact that it was built on seven hills. How much greater, then, should San Francisco be, standing on fourteen hills? … The answer, so it seemed to me, surely must be ‘Twice.’”

That’s Scottish writer A.G. Macdonell quoting the American Railroad Guide in his 1935 book, A Visit to America. Macdonell continues his ruminations on the wonders of San Francisco on the next page:

“I think that the compilers of that Railroad-Guide were lamentably deficient in the art of advertisement. Why did they stop at the comparison with Rome? Is not San Francisco therefore to be reckoned as fourteen times as great as either of them, or better still, seven times as great as Athens and Troy put together?”

Given that some believe San Francisco has as many as seventy-four hills, it seems that our city is exponentially as great as any other city in the world. We’re beginning to work on making the Spring issue of Fourteen Hills just as great right now.

You can read more from A.G. Macdonell’s book here.

And if you’re a fan of Frances Mayes, author of Under the Tuscan Sun and many other wonderful things, she was one of the original staff members of Fourteen Hills. We’ve heard that she was, in fact, the one to give the magazine its name. Thank you Frances!

-Leanne M., Fourteen Hills staff

1 comment:

  1. 14 Hills is a great literary magazine published in a great city!