On this day in 1986: Ingrams quits Private Eye

March 29, 2023

Incredible as it may seem, Ian Hislop has been editor of Private Eye since 1986 – 37 years. But before Hislop there was another fixture there, Richard Ingrams, who had been in the chair since 1962, having followed Christopher Booker, the founding editor.

Punch referred to a famous Tenniel cartoon from 1890 to mark Ingrams leaving Private Eye

Punch marked the departure of Ingrams with a reference to one of its most famous cartoons, Dropping the Pilot by Sir John Tenniel from 29 March 1890. The reworked cartoon that graced the cover dated 26 March 1986 depicted the Private Eye crew as rats. The caption read: ‘Mr Richard Ingrams is being persuaded to relinquish his grasp on Private Eye.’

Private Eye had a rivalry with Punch from its early days, and did a Punch in the Private Eye issue in 1964 with a Gerald Scarfe cover – mourning Punch‘s ‘death’ as a satirical magazine. The image is based on a blow-up of the ribald ribbon at the bottom of Richard Doyle’s cover design. Punch had used that design for a century into the 1950s.

Private Eye‘s spoof of Punch in 1964 with a Gerald Scarfe cover

>>Not Private Eye and the battle with Robert Maxwell

>>Maxwell and other legal battles for the press

>>Analysis of Doyle’s Punch cover design and its influence on Peter Blake’s sleeve design for The Beatles’  Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts’ Club Band

Magazines in the movies: Carry on Constable

February 28, 2023
Notice the Kitchener-inspired poster headed ‘YOU’ with a pointing policeman

Not a direct use of a magazine, but behind the actor Terence Longdon on the right is a poster headed ‘YOU’ with a pointing policeman. The still is from the 1960 film Carry on Constable. This is a reference to the ‘Your Country Needs You’ cover from London Opinion by Alfred Leete, which was later used for the First World War poster.

There was also a Who Needs Kitchener? episode in the 1975 Carry on Laughing TV spin-off series from the films.

>>Magazines in the movies: Foreign Affairs and Playboy in Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove

>>Magazines in the movies: Playboy in Steven Seagal’s Under Siege

Magazines in the movies: Watchmen and Time

February 27, 2023
Dan Dreiberg (Nite Owl) looks at magazine covers of Adrian Veidt (Ozymandias) in Watchmen

Graphic novels have been a great source of films in the past 15 years and the works of Dave Gibbons have been an inspiration, with Watchmen (2009), and the Kingsman films (2014 and 2017) being brilliant examples.

As an artist, he worked on titles for both DC Thomson and IPC before joining 2000 AD. He then drew Doctor Who and helped reboot US classics such as Green Lantern, Batman and Superman. He was one of the British artists who reinvented the superhero comic for an older, more literate audience, raising the medium up to become the sort of art form – the bands dessinées – it had long been recognised as in countries such as France and Belgium.

Gibbons did the Watchmen 12-part series with Alan Moore in the mid 1980s. It became a best-seller and was named one of Time magazine’s top 100 novels. So it’s perhaps fitting that Time is one of four magazines referenced in this scene from the film. Dan Dreiberg (Nite Owl in his superhero garb) visits the offices of Adrian Veidt (Ozymandias) and casts an eye over the magazines on a coffee table as he waits.

The mocked-up Economist and Forbes covers show Veidt, the New Yorker has Dr Manhattan, and Time shows Manhattan with Veidt.

In 2015 Gibbons was appointed the UK’s first comics laureate to champion the use of graphic novels in promoting literacy.

>>Magazines in the movies: Foreign Affairs and Playboy in Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove

>>Magazines in the movies: Playboy in Steven Seagal’s Under Siege

Hop to Croatia for stuffed frogs!

February 25, 2023

The photographs of dioramas of 100-year-old stuffed frogs at Froggyland are astounding. There are frogs doing just about anything – except sword-fencing. It was two frogs sword-fencing on Charles Dickens’ desk that first got me on to the topic.

Frogs cooking by Dickie Hughes for a 1901 issue of Home Notes

These frogs by Dickie Hughes are from Home Notes, a women’s weekly launched by C. Arthur Pearson and later published by Newnes. The Victorians and Edwardians were besotted by animals acting like people – Louis Wain’s cats probably being the pinnacle. Hence the film The Electrical Life of Louis Wain with Benedict Cumberbatch as the artist in 2021. Wain’s sister, Felecie Wain, also drew frogs for Home Notes.

Felecie Wain drew frogs for Home Notes in 1899

Dickie Hughes is unknown to me, though I see there was a children’s book, Pudgy, by him about a fat, round, girl.

Stuffed frogs sword-fencing

>>Website for Froggyland in Split, Croatia

>>The Electrical Life of Louis Wain review at the BFI

When cross-dressing women were licensed

February 25, 2023

‘Licensed to dress as men’ was the title of this article in a 1907 edition of The World and His Wife magazine. It was about ‘distinguished women who require more than the vote’ and focused on events in France, where women had been banned from wearing trousers since 1800.

French cross-dressing in a 1907 edition of The World and His Wife magazine

Several women in history are discussed, including the Chevalier d’Eon, an 18th-century soldier, diplomat and spy who lived openly as a man and as a woman in France and England at different times. She was famous for duelling and was regarded as the best fencer of the period. According the the British Library, London bookmakers took bets on d’Eon gender.

Several 20th century women are mentioned. The Marquise de Morny (1863–1944) was a painter, socialite and sculptor who called herself ‘Max’. She had a relationship with Colette, the writer. Mme de Montifaut (1845–1912) was a writer who went by the names Marc or Marie and was jailed several times for books. Jane Dieulafoy (1851–1916) was an archaeologist, author and photographer. Several characters practise cross-dressing in her fiction.

An earlier cross-dresser was the artist Rosa Bonheur (1822–99) who gained permission from the French police to wear trousers when painting at sheep and cattle markets.

There has been quite a considerable amount of talk in Paris recently concerning trousers for ladies.

A few mannequins made, some days ago, a sensational appearance at one of the fashionable race-courses. They wore the new ‘Morocco costume’, which consists of a close-fitting bodice, with baggy bloomers fastened an inch or two above the ankles. The new fashion is really a kind of combination frock, divided in front so as to form trousers-legs.

The partiality of Frenchwomen for wearing trousers is well known. In almost every small theatre where light plays are produced, one is sure to find at least one man’s part impersonated by a pretty woman.

The French, even, have a typical expression to describe the woman who rules her household: ‘Elle porte la culotte,’ they say (She wears the trousers).

The list of women who have worn ‘la culotte’, in reality, throughout French history is very, large, the first ‘historical’ woman to don men’s clothing being, of course, Joan of Arc.

The article reads:

During the Thirty Years’ War, the women who wore uniforms in the various regiments of France would have formed quite a company. Later, during the Seven Years’ War, certain ladies of the French aristocracy achieved great notoriety for similar reasons. At the time of Louis XVI, the Chevalier d’Eon was the great living enigma. This handsome person, acknowledged as the best fencer of the period, and famous for his duels and adventures, was a woman.

The armies of Napoleon contained several women, dressed in male military attire, and one or two of them were, on famous occasions, complimented by the Emperor.

There are still a few ladies in France who are never seen but in men’s clothes. They follow the example of Rosa Bonheur the eminent animal painter, who, for convenience’ sake, always wore masculine garb.

The best-known women wearing trousers in France today are the Marquise de Morny, Mme de Montifaut, and Mme Dieulafoy. Of course, they have received special permission from the Government to appear in public in such attire.

Madame de Montifaut is the least known of the trio, although she has achieved some notoriety with her writings. The Marquise de Morny has travelled extensively, and published quite a number of books of no mean value.

As for Mme Dieulafoy, her reputation is world-wide. She is the wife of the famous engineer and explorer M Dieulafoy, who was sent in 1883 on a special archæological expedition to the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates. His wife, Jeanne-Paule-Rachel Dieulafoy, accompanied him on his difficult and often perilous journeys.

Whilst in Assyria, she found that the native workers employed by her husband treated her with less respect than they did the white men. Also, she found that skirts were not compatible with excavation work.

She therefore bravely cut off her hair, and started to wear some of her husband’s clothes. A few years later, when the two returned to France, Mme Dieulafoy found herself quite lost when expected to resume her feminine garb. Instead, she applied to the Government, and was granted special licence to wear male attire.

She was also decorated with the Order of the Legion of Honour, which at once put an end to sarcasms which her quaint dress might otherwise have provoked.

Marquise de Morny at her villa near Berk. She was licensed by the French government to wear male clothes

>>Amber the cross-dressing actor in Photo-Bits

>>Cross-dressing Prince Charles in Marie Claire

>>Gender-bending ‘he-girls’ in The Graphic

All at sea with a Comet for the troops

January 29, 2023
Titlepiece for The Comet printed on board His Majesty’s Troopship Caronia

On Monday, January 29 1917, the passengers on His Majesty’s Troopship Caronia were preparing for a revue the following Saturday. How do I know this? Because it’s all in a copy of The Comet, a daily magazine produced on board. The Troopship had left England on January 5 and would arrive at Bombay on March 3. It’s not much of a magazine, a sheet of A4 folded in half to give four pages, but getting even this out each day – written, edited, laid out and printed – must have been quite a feat. 

The Caronia had a busy war. She was requisitioned right at the start and fitted with eight 4.7in guns at Liverpool for service as a merchant cruiser. The ship was refitted as a troopship in August 1916. This service included carrying troops between Halifax and Liverpool. After the war, the ship repatriated Canadian troops and then returned to trans-Atlantic passenger service. She was laid up in 1931 and scrapped in Japan.

The front page credited A Claude Brown and Harry Holloway

The Comet editor was A Claude Brown, assisted by the business manager, Harry Holloway. Claude Brown, appeals for ‘clever topical articles’ in his note on the front page – getting articles in is always a battle. His experience on the Caronia does not appear to have put him off publishing – for he wrote The Ordinary Man’s India, published by Cecil Palmer in London, ten years later. 

In fact, the Comet provided good practice because Claude Brown became editor of The Empress in Calcutta. This was an illustrated fortnightly magazine of social, political, sporting and dramatic events produced by Tracker, Spink & Co in what is today called Kolkata, in West Bengal. The city was India’s capital under the Raj from 1773 until just six years before this copy of the Comet was published.

Confirmation that it was the same Claude Brown – and that the ship arrived safely after setting out from Devonport – comes from the first chapter of the book:

It was during the war that I first went to India. The Cunard liner Caronia, converted for the time being into a transport, took some five thousand of us to Bombay.

Five thousand troops on the ship! Her usual complement was 1,550 passengers. The Caronia was part of ‘a great convoy’ for the first part of her two-month journey to Bombay (now Mumbai). The first port of call was Sierra Leone. The convoy continued to Cape Town and Durban, after which Caronia steamed on alone to Bombay (now Mumbai). Claude Brown was sent on to Mesopotamia. Three years later he went back to India and stayed for six years.

The early part Claude Brown’s book, with its discussion of buying trunks, tennis racquets, cholera belts, umbrellas and pith helmets reminds me of Evelyn Waugh’s William Boot off to Abyssinia in Scoop (though no cleft sticks!). He sums India up as ‘the paradise of the middle classes and the land of snobs’. The book also has themes in common with the Comet. For example, ‘Indian life is not conducive to the writing of long and intimate letters’ is an echo of the ‘Curt Corres’ poem.

The centre spread carried two articles by Llewelyn Wynne-Davies, one about Sierra Leone

Two of the articles, amounting to a third of the issue, were written by L Wynne Davies. The first is a continuation of an article about the first port of call, Sierra Leone. It has the sense of being by someone who has been there before, with a section of objects viewed from the ship, including canoes form the Susu people with their large sprit sails from the Bullom (northern) shore of the port. It then mentions barracks, a mission hospital for native nurses, the cathedral, various municipal buildings and the large mango and melon trees. 

There is then mention of Sierra Leone as ‘the white man’s grave’ a century before when the death rate from malaria among British troops was 362 in every 1,000. By 1907-11 it was down to 11 per 1,000. Knowledge of such statistics suggests medical experience, a clue that led me to Llewlyn Wynne.

By fitting together snippets from websites, it appears that Llewelyn Wynne-Davies was born in 1874 or 1875 in Llansilin, Wales. He was the son of Rev David Davies, the town’s rector. Wynne-Davies graduated in medicine from Edinburgh in 1897 and continued his studies until 1905. The year before, he sailed through the Suez Canal, down the Red Sea and across the Indian Ocean in the S.S. Rhipens. By 1911 he was a medical officer in Nigeria, a position he held for at least a decade on a salary of salary of £960.

He joined up in 1914 and held the rank of army captain two years later. Presumably he was going back to Lagos in 1917 and once he left the Caronia in Sierra Leone faced a 1,000-mile journey on to Lagos. In 1929, he was assistant director of medical services in Nigeria. He was named an OBE and served as a judge after he retired. He never married but had two nieces who were medical practitioners. Wynne-Davies died on 24 April 1955, aged 80. He bequeathed several items from West Africa to the British Museum, including a pottery fragment of a statue. 

That’s all pretty dry stuff, but then I came across a lovely tribute by Dr Lynn Robson at Regent’s Park College, Oxford, to a woman called Ruth Wynne-Davies:

One of her uncles spotted Ruth’s intelligence and drive, and encouraged and supported her in her decision to apply for medical training. In his honour, Ruth took his surname of Wynne-Davies [she had been Ruth Blower].

The uncle was Llewelyn Wynne-Davies. Ruth went on to become an important figure in orthopaedics, using research into genetics to gain an international reputation for her expertise in developmental disorders of bone.

The ‘Curt Corres’ poem by Gerald H Hatchman – an ‘erudite wordman’ according to Eric Partridge

I mentioned the Curt Corres’ poem earlier. This was by Gerald H Hatchman. He was a corporal in the Royal Engineers, but it’s difficult to be definite about his time after the Caronia voyage. However, an ‘erudite wordman’ called Gerald Hatchman, was credited by Eric Partridge in his Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English. The poem certainly fits the erudite bill, and the military has always been a hotbed for slang. 

In addition, an online copy of The Life and Music of Eric Coates by Michael Payne mentions Gerald Hatchman of the PRS. This was the Performing Right Society set up in 1914 by music publishers to protect their copyrights. Hatchman was with Coates on board the Highland Brigade bound for Argentina to attend a conference of the International Confederation of Societies, Authors and Composers in Buenos Aires. AP Herbert was also on the boat, possibly the novelist, playwright and poet, Punch staff member and later MP.   

That bring us back to the business manager, Harry Holloway. There is a saloon pantryman named Harold James Holloway on the crew manifest for the RMS Caronia in 1950 – but that is a different Caronia, launched in 1947.  Nothing else online seems to fit.‘The Do’s and Don’ts for the Tropics’ by an Old Timer contains advice that stands up well today. This and the articles by Wynne-Davies suggest a fondness for India and Africa. In contrast, the poem ‘Coal Dust Coon’ by ‘Private P.W.’ of the 4th Devons suggests the sort of casual racism that was widespread at the time.

The Tommies’ song – Tipperary

Rare magazines for Christmas: Tit Whits in 1907

December 25, 2022

To finish these Christmas rarities, here’s the rarest of this week’s magazine delicacies – the first issue of Tit Whits dated May 1907. It was a satirical monthly with an unusual page size, more or less a vertical half page of A4. It was printed in blue throughout. The editorial strategy was ‘Interesting comedy with lessons between the lines.’ The title was a reference to Tit-Bits, George Newnes’s weekly bestseller of the time.

Tit Whits magazine first issue May 1907. The editor was A. Hunnable

The editor was ‘A Hunnable’. This may be the poet and eccentric Arthur Hunnable, who made many attempts to become an MP. Hunnable lived in Ilford and worked as a bicycle maker until March 1907. He built a bicycle platform for delivering his speeches. Tit Whits makes frequent mentions of both Ilford and Hunnable bicycles. There are also lots of poems.

The opening editorial on page 2 suggests Hunnable produced two other publications, London Life and News and Ilford Life and News.

Hunnable had a poem for every page

One event the magazine satirised was a model aircraft prize show sponsored by Lord Northcliffe’s Daily Mail. The event is described in a poem:

     The Daily Fail in a stormy high
     Did get some men to try and fly.
     The horns did blow, but the things won’t go
     And what was the good no one does know.

    The prize not great for thing when done,
    Not enough to pay for the Alexandra run;
    There some are fly where others have to walk,
    And the papers make up for the rest in talk.

The winning model was by Alliott Verdon Roe, who built his No.1 triplane two years later and made the first all-British powered flight, on Walthamstow marshes. He set up the Avro (A.V. Roe) aircraft maker in 1909, and it would become famous for the 504 – a trainer and the first single-engined aeroplane to bomb German soil – the Anson transport, the Second World War Lancaster bomber, and the Vulcan nuclear strike bomber.

The back page of Tit Whits has an advert for the Hunnable spring frame bicycle, made by Hunnable Prentis & Co in Ilford. The Online Bicycle Company has an advert for the bicycle dated 1906.

The British Library has no entry for Tit Whits in its catalogue.

Merry Christmas!

>>Tit-Bits and other weekly magazines

A rare magazine for Christmas: England’s Battles

December 23, 2022

In the run-up to Christmas, I’m digging into my magazine archive and posting some cover scans of short-lived titles that are rarely seen. England’s Battles by Sea and Land is the oldest example, dated 1855.

The subtitle is timely: ‘Including the present expedition against Russian aggression in the East.’ This was the Crimean War from 1853 to 1856 when an alliance of the Ottoman Empire, France and Britain defeated Moscow.

England’s Battles by Sea and Land from 1855

Although the cover engraving looks crude, the details on the Coldstream guardsman’s uniform appear accurate. The sailor is wearing a straw hat, a ‘benjy’ according to one of the Patrick O’Brien books, with what looks like a penknife hanging from his belt. The illustration is signed ‘JB’.

Rather than being dated, England’s Battles has a numbered part, 7, suggesting this was what we would now call a partwork. This part includes a tipped-in map of the Black Sea and the Crimea. It was published by the London Printing and Publishing Company at 97 & 100 St John St in Clerkenwell, and in New York. The issue is priced at 1s or 25 cents.

>>Women in the First World War

>>Russia’s war retreat mystery

A rare magazine for Christmas: Home and Politics for Tory women in 1922

December 23, 2022

In the run-up to Christmas, I’m digging into my magazine archive and posting some cover scans of short-lived titles that are rarely seen. Today’s offering is Home and Politics, a Conservative Party organ for women members from June 1922.

Home and Politics from June 1922 showing three prominent Conservatives

Woman and Home was an edition of Popular View, a Tory magazine for all members, produced for the Women’s Unionist Organisation. The cover photos show Mrs Wardlaw Milne, chairman of the Kidderminster branch of the Women’s Unionist Association (WUA); Dame Helen Gwynne-Vaughan, prospective Unionist candidate for the North Camberwell constituency; and Mrs Lane-Fox, president, Barkston Ash, Women’s Conservative and Unionist Association.

Wardlaw-Milne was the wife of Sir John, MP for Kidderminster from 1922 to 1945. Dame Helen failed to win the Camberwell seat, but she had a career in the military, and was professor of botany at Birkbeck College. Lane-Fox was the wife of George Richard Lane-Fox, Baron Bingley, of Bramham, who was the Conservative MP for Barkston Ash from 1906 to 1931.

Articles were about the Budget, questioning whether the Labour Party represented labour, and about the dangers of feminism.

‘Eve and the New Age’ by Edythe M Glanville started by stating the promise of ‘an ardent feminist’ that women were on the threshold of achieving their rightful heritage. However, the article quickly warned of the dangers in that: ‘Sentiments like those … reveal that in advanced feminism there lies the menace of sex strife.’

Edythe Glanville warned of ‘sex strife’ in advanced feminism

An unexpected advert is for Barclay’s London Lager. This was an innovation for Barclay’s, which opened a special brew house for the job in 1921 and employed a Danish brewer, Arthur Henius. According to the blog Shut Up about Barclay Perkins, the first brew was just 64 barrels, compared with up to 1,200 barrels of X Ale in a batch and ‘even Russian Stout was usually brewed in batches of 150 barrels’. As for the target market: ‘The potentiality of trade lies with the middle and upper classes, and with that floating population from the ends of the earth which the Metropolis always embraces,’ was the view of the Brewers’ Journal. There appears to have been no mention of female politicians.

Barclay’s London Lager advert: note the drinker’s spats. The decor looks like a chop house, or perhaps the Olde Cheshire Cheese

Another innovation, radio, was the topic for a page cartoon attacking both Labour and the Liberals. The top two frames feature two Labour politicians, John Robert Clynes and Arthur Henderson; the left of the middle two frames shows a Socialist hearing ‘bracing news’ about £500,000 of Soviet finance being approved for propaganda in Britian [sic] and France (with apologies to John Hassall’s ‘Skegness is so bracing’ poster); the right frame is of John Bull listening to the infighting at a meeting of the International Socialist Brotherhood; at bottom left, delegates flee the room when an appeal goes out for donations to support the Daily Herald; and, finally, the Liberal leader and wartime prime minister Herbert Henry Asquith is nonplussed that the people aren’t calling for a return to power for his ‘Wee Frees’, as his party members were nicknamed.

Radio-themed cartoon attacking Labour and Asquith’s Liberals

The magazine was printed and published by the Chancery Lane Printing Works Ltd, Plough Court, Fetter Lane, EC4. It cost a penny for 16 pages. The issue here has an address label to Miss Hattersley-Smith in Cheltenham. 

The Bodleian Library in Oxford has more details of Home and Politics and The Popular View.

>>More on current affairs magazines

Rarely-seen magazines: Fleet St Review of 1892

December 22, 2022

In the run-up to Christmas, I’m digging into my magazine archive and posting some cover scans of short-lived titles that are rarely seen. Today, it’s the cover of the Fleet Street Review, a monthly from January 1892. This is the launch issue.

The launch issue cover of the Fleet Street Review in January 1892 was based on an old engraving of Izaak Walton’s house

The cover shows the house of Izaak Walton, author of The Compleat Angler, on the corner of Fleet St and Chancery Lane. Inside, ‘A reverie in Fleet Street’ by CRB Barrett discussed lost buildings in the area, such as the old St Dunstan’s church, various taverns and Mrs Salmon’s wax works. He concludes: ‘The history of Fleet St from 1900 to 2100 will be worthy of its reputation.’

Detail from ‘A reverie in Fleet Street’ by CRB Barrett. Notice the starting ‘The’

Other articles include the dean of St Paul’s writing about the cathedral; ‘Incidents in the lives of notable journalists’ by Henry Allen Ashton; collecting bric-a-brac; ‘A bunch of violets’ by Helen F Hetherington; and ‘The Gordon Dock mystery’, by ‘A Dock Clerk’.

The magazine was published at 125 Fleet Street by F Charles & Co. The printer was Judd & Co at Doctors’ Commons. It cost twopence for 32 pages plus the cover. The British Library lists five copies of the title.

>>A history of news magazines