Archive for the ‘women’s magazines’ Category

Who is Woman cover illustrator Lovat?

November 21, 2014
Woman magazine from Odhams just three-and-a-half months before the outbreak of World War 2 with an illustration by 'Lovat'

Woman magazine from Odhams just three-and-a-half months before the outbreak of World War 2 with an illustration by ‘Lovat’

A classic cover here for a pre-war Woman magazine from Odhams – and, unusually for this title, the cover artists has signed the image, ‘Lovat’ (15 April 1939).

I immediately thought of Claud Lovat Fraser, who did illustrations for books and the theatre, but he died in 1921.

Woman had only launched in 1937, setting out to rival George Newnes’ Woman’s Own with its own colour gravure presses. At this time, Woman stuck to illustrated covers while Woman’s Own had used photography from its launch in 1932. The early Woman’s Own covers used a second or third spot colour but it ran photographic covers printed gravure that used spot colours in a very sophisticated way to given the impression of full-colour from as early was 1935. Ahead of the Woman launch, in early 1937 it started printing photographic colours in full colour.

Both magazines were printed in Watford, Herts, Odhams having built an Art Deco press hall there in 1937 after Sun Engraving had turned down a takeover. Sun was Britain’s biggest printer and Woman’s Own was one of its customers, along with Vogue and Picture Post to name but two. The Odhams plant is still there, though a big chunk of the site was sold off for an Asda store 25 years ago. Of the Sun plant, nothing is left but a clock!

So who was this Lovat? Any ideas?

The charming children of Lilian Hocknell

November 20, 2014
Mother magazine cover of child with toys by Lilian Hocknell from November 1936

Mother magazine cover of child with toys by Lilian Hocknell from November 1936

Lilian Hocknell drew this cover for the November 1936 cover of Mother. By this time, the country was coming out of the recession and the family is laden with presents and Christmas shopping. The cherubic little girl is clutching a red balloon as well as the teddy. the lettering ” ‘S TOY FAIR” can be seen on the balloon – Hamley’s? Harrod’s?

Notice they’re all wearing gloves; with gauntlets for the older sister.

Hocknell could certainly draw cute tots. An exhibition of her work, ‘Drawings of Children’ was held at the Sporting Gallery, London, in 1926 and she was prolific in producing adverts for Chilprufe kids’ clothing. This issue of Mother ran a Chilprufe advert, below. The V&A holds examples of Hocknell‘s work and Nottingham University notes that The Strand magazine, March 1938, ran an article by John Lothian entitled ‘Here’s fun! The Delightful Childhood Studies of Lilian Hocknell’. She drew a Clacton-On-Sea railway poster for LNER and her drawings have been sold at Bonhams. The clothing might have been proof from chills, but the proofreading left something to be desired, with the C left out of manufacturing.

Lillian Hocknell advertising illustration for Chilprufe children's clothing

Lillian Hocknell advertising illustration for Chilprufe children’s clothing. From Mother magazine 1936 – note the spelling error

The address for the Mother was Martlett House, Martlett Court, in London’s Covent Garden. The same address was used later for the Odhams magazines Woman (1938), Picturegoer (1939) and Everywoman (1940).

 

Time UK closes TV Easy

September 28, 2014
What's On TV and TV Easy

Dummy cover of merged What’s On TV and TV Easy

Time Inc has marked the killing off of the IPC name with two changes. First is the closure of its compact TV listings weekly TV Easy, with some features of the magazine being taken on by What’s On TV, its best-selling TV guide. The first combined issue will be on sale on September 30.

As is typical in such mergers, What’s On TV will carry a cover flash to highlight the changes and try to retain TV Easy‘s readers. The merged magazine will also be given a design ‘makeover’.

Woman and Home Fashion magazine

First issue cover of twice-yearly Woman and Home Fashion magazine (autumn/winter 2014)

The second change is better news, with the launch of the third Woman & Home spin-off, a twice-yearly fashion glossy for the magazine’s over-40 readers. Woman & Home Fashion joins Feel Good Food and Feel Good You, covering health and wellbeing.

TV magazines history

Woman magazine, a ghost and an omelette

September 17, 2014
Woman magazine cover 1904

Woman magazine from 1904 with a cover design by Septimus Bennett, younger brother of Arnold Bennett, the Potteries novelist and the magazine’s former editor

This magazine cover from 1904 is from an earlier title to use the name Woman than today’s IPC / Time weekly (which only dates back to the Odhams launch of 1937).

The cover design for this ‘high class penny paper for ladies’ was by Septimus Bennett. A book, Artist in Arms, was published in 2001 and is based on the diaries of a Septimus Bennett when he was working at a Vickers shell factory in Sheffield during the First World War. At first glance, it would seem to be an unlikely link between this Septimus and the cover designer, but it looks like they were the same man – and he was the youngest brother of the Arnold Bennett – voted greatest West Midland writer in 2005.

While Arnold is best known for his ‘Five Towns’ novels, based on the six Potteries towns, he started out as a writer in magazines. He won a literary competition in Tit-Bits – the best-selling magazine of the day – in 1889 and five years later became assistant editor of the Woman. This probably explains how brother Septimus got the job drawing the magazine’s cover. Arnold began writing fiction serials, which resulted in A Man from the North in 1898 and he became Woman’s editor in that year. He stepped down in 1900 to write full-time, including The Grand Babylon Hotel (1902), serious criticism and theatre journalism. He wrote a column in London’s Evening Standard in the late 1920s.

Nigel Slater has a recipe for Omelette ‘Arnold Bennett’, a standard dish at the Savoy in The Strand. His advice: ‘Stick with the classic interpretation unless you want the wrath of Arnold Bennett’s ghost upon you.’ Delia Smith also has a version and reckons that Bennett wrote the whole of his novel Imperial Palace (1930) while staying at the Savoy.

Septimus was an artist and designer and ran a studio in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, where he produced designs for ceramics. His cover incorporates advertising for P&P Campbell, the Perth Dye Works, which was a prominent advertiser in magazines and on hoardings. The typeset copy includes quotes from two other magazines: ‘Oldest and best dyers, Myra’s Journal’; and ‘Excellent dyers, The Lady’; the latter is still published from office in London’s Covent Garden.

Woman was printed by Unwin Brothers at 27 Pilgrim St in London for the publishers Beeton & Co. The company had been founded by Samuel Beeton and produced several famous and groundbreaking titles, including the Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine, Boy’s Own, Myra’s Journal and Queen. The first off these spun off the famous Mrs Beeton’s Cookbook, which was compiled from her work on the magazine. Note the cover credit: edited by Mrs C.S. Peel (the original Avenger?). Dame Deborah Primrose replied to readers’s queries. About a dozen contributors are named, all but one a woman. Several fashion illustrations are credited to Rene Robinson.

The editorial offices were at 10-11 Fetter Lane, a thoroughfare that is an essential stop on any Fleet Street tour, having been the base for many publishing enterprises, such as Railway Magazine (no 30 in 1901), the Daily Mail (no 110 in 1920-61), DC Thomson’s Red Letter for the Family Circle (no 12 in 1950) and Jocelyn Steven’s Swinging Sixties version of Queen (no 52). It is also the site of a statue of John Wilkes, a radical journalist and rebellious politician in the late 1700s.

Woman describes itself as ‘A journal of information, entertainment and practical counsel for womankind the wide world over’ on its frontispiece page and closed in 1907, a run of 19 years.

 

Louis Wain – cats, frogs and his sister

May 27, 2014
Felecie Wain illustration from Home Notes - Louis Wain's mother

Anthropomorphised frogs from Home Notes by Felecie Wain – Louis Wain’s sister

Louis Wain became famous to Victorians for his humanlike – anthropomorphised – animal drawings, particularly cats, which were widely published, as magazine illustrations, books and cards. He was ‘the man who drew cats’. The image here is from a children’s page in C. Arthur Pearson’s popular women’s weekly Home Notes in 1899, at a time when the prodigious Wain contributed at least a drawing an issue to this magazine alone. However, it is signed ‘Felecie Wain’, Louis Wain’s sister, who was also known as ‘Felice’.

Frog tableaux were popular at the time and Dickens had a small statue of sword-fighting frogs on his desk at his Gad’s Hill home when he died.

According to a Margate newsletter, Wain moved to the neighbouring seaside town of Westgate in 1894 with his four sisters and mother at the suggestion of Sir William Ingram, who lived there and owned Illustrated London News (founded by his father in 1842). Wain’s wife had recently died and Ingram also owned Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, where Wain had worked since 1882. The newsletter shows photographs of Wain’s homes and the graves of both his mother and Felecie.

The image below is a drunken Wain cat held by the V&A Museum.

Louis Wain cat out on the razzle

Louis Wain’s ‘Hallo there! We won’t go home till morning’ showing a cat out on the razzle

Hearst closure of Dutch ‘Red’ – and cash cow thinking

May 27, 2014
Heart Magazines Nederlands has decided to stop the women's lifestyle glossy magazine Red from the June 2014 edition

Heart Magazines Nederlands has decided to stop publishing the women’s lifestyle glossy magazine Red from the June 2014 edition

Big consumer groups such as Unilever have occasional culls of their brands – in 1999, it sold two-thirds of its products! The theory is that you focus your money and management on the strongest brands and sell off smaller ones. In the jargon invented as part of the Boston matrix, companies should milk the cash generated by their ‘cash cows’, to spend on their ‘stars’ and ‘question marks’, while closing down the ‘dogs’.

The decision by Heart Magazines Nederlands to close women’s monthly lifestyle magazine Red is an example of that sort of thinking. It also demonstrates the global strategy of the US parent company.

The June 2014 edition will be the last, with the Dutch press reporting that Hearst saw a lack of interest among advertisers for the glossy monthly. So, Red had become a ‘dog’. However, the Dutch subsidiary also publishes Elle, undoubtedly a global ‘star’, and the closure frees up resources for that title. More importantly, Hearst Magazines Netherlands is launching a Dutch edition of Harper’s Bazaar at the end of August. This ‘question mark’ is where the money will go.

Harper’s Bazaar was bought by Hearst in 1913 and is a core star title for the US publisher. In contrast, Red is an English licensed glossy, which was launched 10 years ago by Hachette in the Netherlands. The original Red was invented by Emap and Hachette Filipacchi as a joint venture in 1989. It coined the term ‘middle youth’ for its target market, with a focus on fashion, beauty, jewellery, interiors, food and travel, for women aged over 30.

In 2011, US group Hearst bought Hachette Filipacchi from French media group Lagardere. As a result, it changed the near century-old name of its UK offshoot, the National Magazine Company, to Hearst UK and closed veteran title She. Similarly, the Hachette name was changed to Hearst across the world. Another victim of magazine globalisation was in 2006 when Harper’s & Queen dropped the second half of its name – which had come about when Harper’s took over the 110-year-old Queen in 1970 – to match the Harper’s Bazaar name elsewhere.

At the heart of the thinking is the ability to sell the same name to international advertisers more easily.

The Dutch Red was selling 62,167 copies an issue in 2013, and was read by 174,000 readers (NOM). In the UK, Red‘s sales are a healthy 203,354, well ahead of both Elle (172,079) and Harper’s Bazaar (111,071). So in Hearst’s global strategy it is a cash cow – though that may mean it can be starved of investment and may eventually become a dog as other titles suck out its cash. While UK editions of Red can be bought on Amazon in the US – for an eye-watering $11 – Hearst is unlikely to launch it there.

Hearst editions of Red elsewhere need to keep looking over their shoulders.

Louis Wain, schizophrenia and cats’ eyes

March 22, 2014
Louis Wain's schizophrenic cats eyes from Home Notes 1899

Louis Wain’s schizophrenic cats eyes from Home Notes 1899

Louis Wain was famous to Victorians as ‘the man who drew cats’. There is a theory that Wain had schizophrenia and that the development of the illness can be seen in his cat drawings. It was not until 1924 that his sisters had him committed to a mental hospital, but this rarely seen sketch from the popular women’s weekly Home Notes in 1899 shows that he had a thing about cats’ eyes even at the height of his powers.

Family Herald – ‘The World’s Premier Weekly Magazine’

March 22, 2014
Family Herald title from 1935

Family Herald title from 1935

‘The World’s Premier Weekly Magazine since 1842′ is the grandiose claim still made in 1935 below the title of Family Herald Magazine almost a century after its launch.

Quite a claim for a magazine that had seen launches such as Home Chat, Home Notes and Woman’s Own in that time. What justifies the hyperbole?

Family Herald was a pioneer of the fiction-based penny women’s weekly formula when it was launched by the publisher George Biggs. The secret of its success was that its production was mechanised – from typesetting through printing to binding. With mechanisation came speed – and labour disputes because Biggs employed women workers – but ultimately high volume sales. By the middle of the 19th century, it was claiming a sale of 300,000 a week and was one of the best-selling cheap weeklies. The price went up to 2d – but stayed at that level till it closed in 1940.

The grand claim is based on the word ‘premier’, meaning ‘first in importance, rank, or position’. In 1935, it could hardly make the claim of the highest sale and its production values would have looked cheap in the extreme against the like of Newnes’ Woman’s Own, which called itself ‘The family favourite’ (and ‘the world’s finest weekly paper’ when it switched to colour gravure in 1937). However, its standing in the world of magazines was well established and its pioneering history could justify the claim, which, not being based on an objective statement, such as sales or number of pages, was difficult to challenge.

Family Herald cover 1935

Family Herald 1935: illustration and the blue ink were limited to the cover in its 20 newsprint pages

Despite its claim, by 1935 Family Herald was on its last legs, running to 20 pages on newsprint with the only colour being the use of blue ink for all the matter on the front. There was no advertising to speak of and very little illustration except on the cover. It was published by the Family Herald Press in Crane Court off Fleet Street, and printed at Yorkshire Printing Works in York. It was a technological pioneer when it founded but had stuck to letterpress technology with its poor reproduction of images – and photograph-friendly gravure was in the ascendency at this stage. Family Herald would close in 1940 with the advent of paper rationing.

Heroines of the Western Front

November 17, 2013
Elsie Knocker and Mairi Chisholm on the cover of Home Chat in 1918.

Elsie Knocker and Mairi Chisholm on the cover of Home Chat in 1918 wearing one of the many medals they were awarded. The ‘heroines’ or ‘Madonnas’ of Pervyse were world famous

Elsie Knocker and Mairi Chisholm were volunteer nurses who worked on the front line in Flanders with Belgian troops for most of the First World War – the only women working on the Western Front. Though their hospital was against British regulations, they carried on regardless, were lauded by the press and dubbed the ‘heroines of Pervyse’, hence their place on the cover of Home Chat, the best-selling women’s weekly of the time. Chisholm was just 18 when she volunteered with her motorcycling friend for the Flying Ambulance Corps. Once in Flanders, they set up their own, unofficial, first-aid station in the cellar of a collapsed house in the village of Pervyse. Their dug-out so close to the front was against regulations, but they carried on regardless, were lauded by the press and dubbed the ‘heroines of Pervyse’.

Knocker and Chisholm broke the rules to do their job, as did other pioneering women such as Edith Cavell, a nurse who was executed, and Flora Sandes – the only British woman soldier of WWI.

In 1915, Knocker and Chisholm were decorated twice by the Belgians. They were credited with saving thousands of lives and, as the only women working on the Western Front, were ‘les madones de Pervyse’ to the troops (the ‘madonnas’ nickname came from a shrine over the entrance to their dug-out). They toured Britain to raise funds for supplies and an ambulance.  The tragedy of their relationship was that … Read more

Magazines at war

Women in the First World War

London Opinion magazine and the Kitchener poster

Hearst tests out online shops

December 19, 2012

Hearst International president Duncan Edwards has described the various online shopping experiments the company is running to the FT’s Vanessa Friedman. There have been many such attempts by publishers, Happy, for example was a shopping magazine and website from Northern & Shell in 2005.  

  • ShopBazaar in the US is a website linked to Harper’s Bazaar that allows uses to buy products mentioned in the monthly fashion magazine. Condé Nast has competing efforts from Lucky and Allure.
  • In Japan, there is an Elle magazine shop. This is independent of the magazine and has broken even after about two years. Monocle has its own shops selling branded goods as well as a website.
  • In China, Hearst has an Elle site that links to different vendors, but brings buyers back to a common check-out.

Edwards reckons that ‘On average, of the 1,000 users who visit an esite from a magazine, only one converts into a buyer.’

These experiments in ‘monetising’ magazine brands leave Friedman feeling ‘queasy’ because of the blurring of the lines between editorial and commercial activities but some would argue the line was crossed many years ago by the big fashion magazines.


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