Archive for the ‘magazines’ Category

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

A rare magazine for Christmas: Paul McCartney’s self-portrait for Beatwave

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. Here’s one for music – and Beatles – fans of a certain age. It’s also a rare piece of radio history.

Beatwave cover by Paul McCartney in 1967

The Beatwave cover is opened out to show front and back pages with a self-portrait by no less than Paul McCartney. The cover reads ‘To free radio listeners everywhere’. McCartney listened to rock and roll as a teenager when it became popular on Radio Luxembourg in the 1950s.

This is the second issue of a magazine that, apparently, only lasted for two issues. It contains articles and pictures about pirate radio stations such as Radio Caroline. There are photos of Johnnie Walker, who didn’t join the BBC until 1969, the Rolling Stones, Cat Stevens and other disc jockeys.

The editor was Robin G. Allen and Beatwave was published from 1 Gough Square off Fleet Street. It was printed by S Tinsley & Co in Alperton, Middlesex, with colour pages inside as well. The use of colour will have contributed to the high price of 3/6 for 40 pages – the same as glossy men’s monthly Town; music monthly Rave cost 2/6.

>>More music magazines

Rare magazines for Christmas: Eve’s fan from 1921

December 20, 2022

Eve magazine was launched in 1919 as an ambitious women’s monthly by the publishers of The Sphere and The Tatler, two society weeklies, at their Great New Street offices off the west end of Fleet Street.

This fan design by George Sheringham, a decorative painter and theatre designer, was the centre spread of the April 1920 issue.

The inside front cover was a text advert for Tatler. It read: ‘Eve reads Eve – Adam reads Tatler and then they change over with mutual pleasure and satisfaction.’ Another page advert showed the red-frock-coated gent who personified Tatler on a bench with a cherubic Eve drawn by Mabel Lucie Atwell. The headline read: ‘The perfect pair.’ A serpent is in attendance on several of the pages.

Eve was a high quality, large format title for upper-class women. It took over The Times Women’s Supplement in 1921 but was itself the subject of one of the magazine world’s more bizarre merger strategies in 1929, when it was combined with Britannia, a right-wing political weekly, to form Britannia and Eve, a monthly for men and women.

The cover illustration here is signed ‘A Vallée’, possibly Armand Vallée, an artist who specialised in sophisticated, fashionable women in French magazines such as Journal des Dames et des Modes and Vie Parisienne.

Eve cover illustration signed ‘A Vallée’, possibly the French artist Armand Vallée

The advert below from the Illustrated London News promotes the first issue with the selling lines ‘Eve tweaks the serpent’s tail’ and ‘The new monthly for modern women’.

>>Britannia and Eve and other women’s glossy magazines

Some rare magazines for Christmas: In Town from 1895

December 19, 2022

In the run-up to Christmas, I’ll be digging into my magazine archive and posting some scans of short-lived titles that are are rarely seen. The first is In Town from 1895.

As well as being little-known, In Town is a very unusual magazine because of its use of a photograph in its titlepiece. The view is of Trafalgar Square looking north to the National Gallery.

It’s a sixpenny monthly in a large format. A feature of the issue, dated January 1895, was photographs and illustrations printed in a colour other than black. The example below by GW Williams from Aberdeen, shows Hyde Park Corner in London.

The British Library holds issues of In Town from July 1894 to May 1897.

>>More about colour in Victorian magazine

Celebrating the work of designer David King

November 26, 2022

The website by the academic Rick Poynor and designer Simon Esterson celebrating the work of David King is well worth a look.

David King’s cover designs for City Limits, which was launched after staff at Time Out rebelled

It’s based on Poynor’s 2020 book about King as a designer, activist and visual historian.

A visit to King’s house in Islington to visit the archive was a highlight for any picture editor with a sense of history, particularly those interested in the USSR, China, Nazi Germany or Muhammad Ali. His books are also a delight.

When King died in 2016, the Tate museum acquired much of his work. I used to visit Tate Modern just to see the display of John Heartfield’s anti-Nazi montage illustrations, which were loaned by King. These were originally published in Germany and then republished by Stefan Lorant in Lilliput and Picture Post. Hitler as the Kaiser, flying elephants in Hyde Park, butter and Goering; the former Dadaist had an amazing eye.

Poynor is now at Reading University, with its amazing collections to do with typography, posters and ephemera.

Poynor’s and King’s books would make great Christmas presents – and the mention of Reading brings to mind Michael Twyman’s History of Chromolithography, which is a visual treat, if you can find a copy! Extending that thought adds Maurice Rickards, the Man About Town designer who pretty much invented the study of ephemera and wrote about posters and ephemera.

>>Books about magazines at

>>Not…Time Out and the launch of City Limits

Colin Firth and that ‘Darcy shirt’

November 18, 2022

‘Still would – Mr Darcy remains our ideal man,’ this Stylist cover told its readers in 2013. I was filing this issue of the ‘freemium’ weekly when I heard a radio discussion of Colin Firth’s Darcy shirt from Pride and Prejudice.

Colin Firth’s Mr Darcy on the Stylist free weekly cover of 16 January 2013

So, for fans of Mr Darcy and Colin Firth in the 1995 costume drama based on Jane Austen’s book, here’s that cover – and the Radio Times issue for the start of the series as an extra treat.

Firth and US co-star Jennifer Ehle on the September 23 Radio Times cover for Pride and Prejudice

And the white linen shirt Firth wore is regarded as iconic within the BBC. As part of the corporation’s centenary celebrations, historian Robert Seatter has been looking at three objects each day from the BBC’s archive stores. One 15-minute episode of Property of the BBC this week considered three iconic items of clothing used for programmes.

And pride of place among them was that shirt. Seatter brought in fashion designer and Great British Sewing Bee judge, Esme Young for the discussion. The other items were a flak jacket worn by John Simpson in Iraq in April 2003; and the cap worn by Cillian Murphy as Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders. The jacket saved Simpson when his vehicle was hit by ‘friendly fire’ from a US jet. He counted counted at least 15 dead after the bombing attack.

>>Film and TV magazines at