Archive for the ‘Haymarket’ Category

Flann O’Brien and Town’s girl in red water

September 14, 2015
Town magazine and the`Girl in Red Water up to her Charlies' cover from September 1965

Town magazine and the`Girl in Red Water up to her Charlies’ cover from September 1965

A query about Irish writer Flann O’Brien has given me the chance to delve into one of my favourite magazines, Town, famously owned by Michael Heseltine, known as ‘Tarzan’ during his time in Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet.
Joe Labine, from the University of Windsor in Ontario, Canada, was keen to see the profile of O’Brien by Michael Wale in the September 1965 issue – the one with the ‘Girl in Red Water up to her Charlies’ cover (to use a term coined by 1950s supermodel Barbara Goalen).
O’Brien is famous for his column as Myles na Gopaleen (literally, Myles of the Small Horses) in the Irish Times. He had begun writing in Gaelic for the Irish Press in the 1930s, and wrote books such as At Swim-Two-Birds (1939) and The Third Policeman (published after his death in 1967 but written 26 or 27 years before). The two-page article by Wale, ‘I must be shouting at my enemies…’, was followed by excerpts from the Irish Times, his book Hard Life and Sago Saga (in preparation).
Joe explained his query:
I would love to have Wale’s interview with O’Brien because it’s very rare. I am giving a lecture on Flann O’Brien this week to scholars at Metamorphoses: The III International Flann O’Brien Conference. [However,] few of us have ever actually seen the Town article.
It’s very important though, because in biographies of Brian O’Nolan (Flann O’Brien and Myles na gCopaleen were pen names), a few writers mention that in Town Brian O’Nolan claims he ‘met James Joyce in Paris several times’. By all other accounts this is just simply not true however. Town is the only magazine in which he ever made the claim. I would like to try and figure out why. Perhaps he thought it was just a men’s magazine that wouldn’t hold him accountable or ‘fact-check’ as journalists say. I don’t know.
The article does indeed make the claim. In a section on influences on himself, he brings in Joyce:
Indeed, I suppose I was influenced by Joyce. Some authors, no matter what you think, subconsciously can influence you. The same is true of Joyce himself by Proust, and believe it or not by inferior people like Henry James, and he must have read a lot of Sexton Blake [a Sherlock-Holmes-like fictional detective].
I met him [Joyce] in Paris several times. He was a morose, completely self-contained little man. I was curious about him. I admired certain aspects of his work. There has been a lot of rubbish written about him, especially by Americans. I’ve met some of them, ignorant swine…
Excerpt from Brian Nolan interview talking about James Joyce

Excerpt from Brian Nolan interview talking about James Joyce

There has always been less emphasis on exhaustive checking of facts on British newspapers and magazines than in the US. The culture is to trust – and hence hold responsible – the writer. However, Town was one of the best magazines of its era. Other writers in this issue included Leningrad author Brian Moynahan, motoring expert Eric Dymock, the legend in his own lunchtime Jeffrey Bernard, Right Stuff author Tom Wolfe and Washington Post columnist Art Buchwald.
The full three pages of the article are shown below (click on the images to see larger, more legible versions).
Michael wale profile of Brian Nolan - Flann O'Brien - in Town, 1965

Michael Wale profile of Brian Nolan – Flann O’Brien – in Town, 1965

Final page of Michael Wale profile of Brian Nolan - Flann O'Brien - in Town, 1965

Final page of Michael Wale profile of Brian Nolan – Flann O’Brien – in Town, 1965

Ronald Searle explains printer’s jargon

December 22, 2014
Ronald Searle's cartoon glossary to printers' jargon

Ronald Searle’s cartoon glossary to printers’ jargon

Ronald Searle is known for his St Trinians cartoons, but his scratchy style – developed while he was a prisoner of war under the Japanese – brought him fame across the world. This ‘Layman’s guide to the Printer’s Anatomy’ is his take on the jargon of the pressman’s world done for the Inky Way in 1951.

The Inky Way was published by WPN, the company behind World’s Press News and Advertisers Review – the weekly trade paper that was bought up by Michael Heseltine’s Haymarket in 1968 and relaunched, with a focus on the advertising industry because journalists didn’t have any money, as Campaign.   

Searle has no room for ‘nut’ and ‘mutton’, or printer’s lice, but what is a ‘swelled rule’ when it’s out?


More on Man About Town

August 25, 2012
man about town 1959 spring cover

Man About Town 1959 spring cover, probably by Maurice Rickards

Five more covers from the 1950s incarnation of Man About Town have gone up at Magforum.  Look through them and you get the impression that there were opposing design forces at work.

Man About Town 1957 autumn

Man About Town 1957 autumn cover –  commissioned by Rickards, but more influenced by Taylor?

Most of them are traditional examples of illustration and then there is the Maurice Rickards design of Spring 1956. This clearly comes from a different root.  Rickards – regarded as the father of the idea of ephemera – worked as art editor on the magazine  for at least some of the time in this period.

Rickards did the Autumn 1958 cover design and, I assume, the next two abstract works. But the staff were not usually credited.

I can imagine John Taylor, the ex-RAF editor, liking the usual portrayals of the mustachioed man about town. And as one of the most influential men in world when it came to style for men – a fact agreed upon by the Daily Mail, the Guardian, Time and the New Yorker –  who could argue with him?

And who could argue with this tweet from Top Gear editor Conor McNicholas recommending Magforum – ‘Horribly designed but horribly well-informed’? The site was originally built by hand in HTML – that’s coded by hand – 12 years ago with the layout done as tables. There’s always a balance between design and content and the latter has always won out. It then moved on to the free page tool in Netscape, some time with Hot Dog, and then Dreamweaver. The code occasionally gets tweaked from an IPad. The thought of pulling it all part – about 160 pages – and putting it back together is horrendous and projects such as writing a book on magazine design have got in the way.

But the nettle is being grasped with the help of Max at the ever-so-cool Broken Culture, with a target relaunch date of October. Suggestions and comments welcomed.

Man About Town – cover call

October 6, 2011
Man About Town magazine cover

Man About Town magazine cover Autumn 1958

Man About Town, along with Queen, Nova and London Life was part of  the revolution that changed the way magazines were edited and designed in the 1960. An email landed last week caused some disruption at There’s a case study on Town magazine  and a page of what I thought were all the Man About Town covers.  But I was wrong. What I thought was January 1963 was, in fact, Christmas 1962 – a 13th issue for the year.

Man About Town cover - now known to be Christmas 1962

Man About Town cover - now known to be Christmas 1962

Dating issues at the end and beginning of a year can be ticky because the January issue will usually be published in December or even November, so the copyright for January 1963 will be 1962. If the year is not on the cover, confusion can result.

Anybody got a scan I could use of the January 1963 Town cover?


The best in magazines of the 20th century

January 8, 2011

Loaded first issueLOndon Opinion 1927Tatler in 1982 under Tina BrownLilliput magazine April 1946London Life Ian Drury coverAbout Town  magazine front coverThe Face first issue may 1980

Surveys of the best magazines are done pretty regularly, but they are usually limited in scope and time. But what happens when you open things up to ask who and what are the great names and titles of the 20th century?

Names pop into the frame that you will never have heard of.

How many hands would go up for Stefan Lorant? Even two of the titles he founded – Weekly Illustrated and Lilliput – are now relatively unknown, despite being bestsellers in their day. You will have heard of Picture Post though, which he founded and ran for two years before going to the US where he disappeared without trace as far as magazines are concerned in 1940.

Mark Boxer will be more familiar. The PPA has an award named after him. He learned the design trade on Lilliput, before transforming Queen into a sixties swinger, launched The Sunday Times Colour Supplement and London Life, before dying young in harness as editor-in-chief at Conde Nast. And even his sideline as cartoonist Marc puts him in the frame of fame.

Tom Hopkinson took over from Lorant at Picture Post and, for a while, Lilliput. But did he ever launch a magazine? What did he do after Picture Post?

As magazine supremos, Alfred Harmsworth (Lord Northcliffe), with Answers and Home Chat; George Newnes with Tit-Bits, The Strand and Wide World; and C. Arthur Pearson with Pearson’s Weekly and London Opinion, all belong to the 19th century.

And what about William Ewert Berry? Who’s he? Lord Camrose. Who? He controlled Amalgamated Press, which published 73 magazines in 1951, with a total circulation of more than 14 million. But then most of that – Answers, Home Chat, Weldon’s Ladies Journal, et al – was bought from Northcliffe’s estate in 1926. And he would probably want to be known for his stewardship of the Daily Telegraph.

But these men left the magazine editorial floor for newspapers and created the world of press barons.

How about cartoonist Alfred Leete? Another new name? But his front cover for London Opinion is probably the most famous ever penned. Or Bruce Bairnsfather, whose Old Bill from Bystander lives with us today as the nickname for a policeman.

Another magazine title – London Life. For 10 years running up to WWII this was the apogee of art deco cover design for a weekly and it seems to have spawned every sexual fetish going, from high heels to maids’ costumes to artificial limbs – in its letters pages. Who was the editor? Haven’t a clue.

From the 1960s and 1970s. Town – Clive Labovitch and Michael Heseltine gave Tom Wolsey his head in designing a great-looking magazine, but it never made any money. Nova, another title that burned bright but leaked money. Harry Fieldhouse launched it and art editor Harri Peccinotti was there throughout in some capacity; David Hillman made his name on it; Dennis Hackett edited both Queen and Nova. Oz tried to blow the system apart and came pretty close – it gave Felix Dennis his first taste of magazines and he went on to launch the world bestselling Maxim. With Honey, Audrey Slaughter showed the way for the teen market and went on to edit Vanity Fair (where she was so outraged over the launch of Cosmopolitan that she went off and launched Over 21) and later Working Woman.

Ruari McLean – he designed the Eagle – and wrote Magazine Design, the world’s first book on the topic according to OUP, in 1969. John Parsons was art director of Vogue from 1948 to 1964, and had a stint at Queen.

And talking of Town, what about the magazine it was created from, Man About Town. John Taylor launched it as an offshoot of the trade journal Tailor & Cutter. He spent 24 years in charge of T&C and made it “the most quoted trade paper in the world”, according to The Times. Now, most great editors will receive such lauding at some stage in their careers, but how many have a portfolio of such quotes from the Daily Mail, the Guardian US weekly Time and The New Yorker!

More recent great names: James Brown certainly set the agenda when he moved from NME to launch Loaded, but he didn’t work out at GQ, and Jack and Hotdog never flew. Mike Soutar took FHM by the scruff of the neck – with a ‘funny, sexy, useful’ mantra – to murder Loaded in the sales stakes, did similar things with men’s magazines in the US, and came back to the UK to launch Shortlist. All that and a former beauty editor on women’s magazine Secrets to boot!

Dylan Jones has proved his credentials at The Face, i-D, Arena and GQ.

But what about the face itself; Vogue (1916 launch in UK); Woman (1937); Tatler (1903); Cosmo (1973); Dazed & Confused; Grazia (one of my favourites for its all-encompassing excellence from paper to design to the editors’ A-team); I’m going to have to stop here! It’s like the song lyric – And those I miss you’ll surely pardon. Your thoughts?

Town magazine – the complete set ?

November 21, 2009

Chris Gregory has come up trumps with what appear to be the final two images to complete the set of Town covers at

Here they are: February and March 1966, neither of which I’ve even seen before. But this raises the question: is the set really complete? The years 1961-67 have 12 issues of the men’s magazine that rode the wave of the Swinging Sixties and made a reputation for Michael Heseltine’s Haymarket, but 1963 had an extra Christmas issue: were there any other extras? Hopefully, someone out there will let us know.

Town magazine February 1966

Town magazine March 1966

Scary times at centaur

February 20, 2009

B2B publisher Centaur saw its shares lose almost a third of their value on Friday after the Lawyer and Marketing Week publisher said recruitment advertising revenues were two-thirsd down over the year. The news is likely to hit the whole sector – and Haymarket will be grateful it isn’t listed on the stock market.

B2B publishers profiles

Magazine ABCs – little good news

February 12, 2009

All the big publishers saw their total sales fall, with Bauer taking a hit of 8.5% year on year (total sales: 4.17m), says a Guardian analysis. As for the others:

  • IPC down 6.3% (7.49m);
  • BBC down 4.6% (3.80);
  • National Magazine down 5.8% (3.49m);
  • Conde Nast down 1.2% (1.63m);
  • Future down 2.9% (1.56m).

Press Gazette picks out the highs and the lows for smaller groups. Haymarket lost 9.5% of its total circulation. The highs? ‘There weren’t any.’

Media Week piles on the bad news for Richard Desmond, whose OK! weekly has been tabled as a possible closure in the US, by leading on Bauer’s Closer leapfrogging OK! in the UK to become the celebrity weekly with the highest circulation.

Haymarket kills off Eve

October 13, 2008
Eve magazine launch issue

Eve magazine launch

Haymarket has closed its women’s monthly  Eve, says Media Week, but will maintain the website spin-off

Eve was bought by Haymarket from BBC Worldwide in January 2005 and was relaunched this year. However, it  looked out on limb at Haymarket, which has always been a male-dominated, macho company, both in terms of magazines and staff.

Evecars is a joint set-up with What Car? Haymarket tried a similar idea in 1999 with Your Car, which was run by What Car? and Gruner + Jahr’s Prima.

Eve profile

Haymarket profile


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