Self-referential magazine covers 2: Woman’s Own

This is the cover for the relaunch of Woman's Own in 1937 as a colour weekly. Note this is a true self referential cover because the woman is holding a copy of the magazine she appears on!

This is the cover for the relaunch of Woman’s Own in 1937 as a colour weekly

Woman’s Own seems to have particularly fond of self-referential covers. It was published by George Newnes, yet its great rival Odhams never seems to have used the technique for Woman.

Although the cover describes it as ‘No 1’, this issue actually marked a relaunch of the five-year old women’s weekly in the face of rival publishing group Odhams opening a colour gravure printing plant in Watford in 1937. It was from this plant that Odhams launched Woman magazine.

The technique of relaunching a magazine at the same time as a rival’s launch, or some other attention-grabbing tactic, is known as a ‘spoiler’ in the business.

The two women’s weeklies are still published today, though both are now controlled by the same company: first IPC when Odhams and Newness merged in the 1960s, and now the UK arm of US group Time Inc.

This is a fully self-referential cover because the woman is holding a copy of the magazine she appears on. Easy to do with an illustration, trickier with a photograph, but not impossible, even before Photoshop made digital image manipulation so easy.

Here are three more self-referential covers, all second world war issues, from 1941, 1943 and 1945. The second is like the one above in that the woman is again holding the cover on which she appears. Wartime covers on women’s magazines were unusual in that many of them depicted men, usually in uniform.

This photographic cover from 1941 shows the model reading another issue of Woman's Own

This photographic cover from March 1941 shows the model reading another issue of Woman’s Own – from December 1940

Another fully self-referential cover from Woman's Own in 1943

Another fully self-referential cover from Woman’s Own in 1943

Womans Own cover from 1945

Woman’s Own cover from March 1945. The issue she is holding looks like one from the start of February

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One Response to “Self-referential magazine covers 2: Woman’s Own”

  1. Self-referential covers 3: the recursive John Bull | Magforum Says:

    […] – featuring the cover itself within itself: John Bull colour relaunch above and Woman’s Own colour relaunch in 1937. It’s interesting that these fiercely rival publishers – Odhams and George Newnes […]

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