Joseph Michael Lalley (1896-1980) was a literary critic and conservative author. Throughout his long career Lalley published articles, fiction and prose, editorials, book reviews, edited a book of poetry, and collaborated on a book of foreign policy.
Much of Lalley's writing appeared in newsprint, and he began his career as a newspaper reporter in his hometown of Philadelphia in 1921. He soon moved to the Baltimore Sun for the period 1923-1924. The Baltimore paper was not congenial to Lalley, and he left for a series of jobs in advertising; first with the Baltimore firms of J.M. Daiger & Company (1925-27) and Green & Van Sant Company (1928). In 1929 Lalley joined the New York commercial advertising firm of Rudolph Guenther - Russell Law, Inc. where he remained until 1931. He returned to Baltimore and the News where he remained until 1937. In that year Lalley began his association with the Washington Post which was to last until his retirement in 196l.
While at the Post, Lalley began his long career of book reviewing and literary criticism which was to be the mainstay of his writing. He edited the book page for the Post until it was discontinued in the 1940s. He also wrote review articles for the New Yorker (1947-48) and edited "Book Events" (1947-50). This was the book section of Human Events, a conservative foreign policy review edited by Felix Morley, Frank C. Hanighen, and Henry Regnery. In the early 1950s Lalley also contributed to the conservative Freeman and edited reviews for the Pathfinder.
In the 1940s Lalley began writing what he hoped to be a full-scale treatise. In 1946 Human Events published his pamphlet Faith and Force: An Inquiry into the Nature of Authority. This was to be the introduction of his full work The Nature of Authority. Although Lalley returned several times to complete the full study, he never did. This pamphlet, however, brought his work to the attention of other conservative theorists who were beginning to re-define conservative thought in the post-war period. His correspondence reflects his interaction with these conservatives.
During the 1950s Lalley remained an editorial writer at the Washington Post retiring in 1961. In 1963 Lalley became an associate editor in charge of book reviews for Modern Age: A Quarterly Review. Modern Age had been founded by Russell Kirk in 1957 as a scholarly forum for conservative thought. Lalley had occasionally contributed in the past, but in 1963 he became involved in each issue until his death in 1980.
Lalley's skill as a writer and editor were recognized, and he collaborated or edited several books. The first was Our Jungle Diplomacy by William Franklin Sands. It dealt with U.S. policy toward Latin America and was based on Sands's experiences in the diplomatic corps. The book was published by the University of North Carolina Press in l944. It was through this work that Lalley met the press's director William Terry Couch. Couch was impressed with Lalley's work on the Sands book and especially with Lalley's Faith and Force. He encouraged Lalley to complete the work and when Couch moved to the University of Chicago Press in 1947, Lalley reviewed manuscripts for Couch.
After retiring from the Post, Lalley had more time for editorial work and helped foreign correspondent Constantine Brown with his book The Coming Whirlwind (1964) and Federal Trade Commissioner Lowell B. Mason with The Bull on the Bench (1967). In l968 Lalley published a selection of poems by the South African poet Roy Campbell.
Lalley married Spalding Parker in 1924, and they had six children Joseph Michael, Jr., John Spalding, Thomas Lea, Stephen Fenwick, Richard Plowden, and Anne Hart Lalley de Alvear.