The strange story of John Strange Winter


The title from Winter’s Weekly magazine cover of November 18, 1893

It was not unusual in the Victorian era for the name of a magazine’s editor to be given prominence on the cover, Charles Dickens, Annie S Swann and Flora Klickmann being just three of many examples. A picture of the editor was more unusual, but this title from an 1893 cover of Winter’s Weekly magazine contains a mismatch between the image of a woman and the editor’s name – John Strange Winter.

In fact, the editor was Henrietta Eliza Vaughan Stannard, so why the John Strange Winter byline?

Although she had already been published in various magazines, in 1881, Chatto & Windus, her publishers, insisted on a male name for the author of her book Cavalry Life. They argued that no one would believe a collection of regimental stories under a woman’s name. So Stannard took the alias ‘John Strange Winter’ from a character in the book.


 Winter is identified as the author of Bootles’ Baby under her magazine’s title

It took several years for the ruse to be made clear, by which time the name was established as a best seller, with Regimental Legends and then Bootles’ Baby: A story of the Scarlet Lancers.

Bootles’ Baby is referred to in the Winter’s Weekly’s title. It was serialised in the Graphic, the illustrated weekly, in 1885 and sold two million copies in book form with Frederick Warne. Building on her pseudonym, in April 1891 Stannard launched Golden Gates, a penny weekly illustrated magazine, and changed its name to Winter’s Weekly in January a year later. This was published until 1895.

One of the articles in the 1893 issue shown here was ‘How to become a lady journalist’. As a prolific author, Stannard was the first president of the Writers’ Club, founded the year before, and was a later president of the Society of Women Journalists.



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