Archive for the ‘newspapers’ Category

Flann O’Brien, Goldfrapp and the BBC

December 6, 2017
Flann O'Brien

Flann O’Brien shown on the TLS website in a 2011 article

Goldfrapp’s Will Gregory chose Flann O’Brien as the subject of Great Lives on BBC Radio 4 yesterday (you can still hear it on the BBC’s iPlayer). Astoundingly,  Matthew Parris said he did not know the Irish writer and his masterpieces, At Swim-Two-Birds and The Third Policeman.

Carol Taaffe, who has written about O’Brien, explained that the books were only hailed as literary masterpieces after the author’s death. O’Brien worked as a civil servant and wrote under three pseudonyms – Brian O’Nolan, Flann O’Brien, and Myles na gCopaleen, the last of these for his satirical columns in the Irish Times newspaper, which he wrote in Gaelic.

Town, the mainstream men’s magazine, ran a profile of O’Brien in its September 1965 issue, a year before O’Brien’s death. The Times Literary Supplement celebrated O’Brien on his centenary in 2011 and the Irish Times ran an O’Brien homage in 2015.

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Times readers run the country – and the FT is read by psychopaths

September 27, 2017
1981 Guardian cutting profiling the readerships of Britain's newspaper - a version of which was used in the TV series Yes Prime Minister

1981 Guardian cutting profiling the readerships of Britain’s newspaper – a version of which was used in the TV series Yes Prime Minister

Times readers run the country,
Telegraph readers think they run the country…

It’s a great little ditty that makes most people think back to the TV series Yes, Prime Minister from 1987. In fact, I reckon it was popularised by the cutting above, which I tore out from the Guardian – but omitted to date – in the early 1980s.

It wasn’t around on the web until I stuck it up on Magforum some time before March 2005, but since then its use has mushroomed. Americans in particular seem to like it.

I’ve tried to date the cutting. On the back is a golf report that refers to the world’s top players, so it’s unlikely to be a US-only tournament. It appears that three US golfers, Tom Watson, Bill Rogers and Ben Crenshaw are in the lead in a championship match over three rounds of the 18 holes that started with 153 players who had been whittled down to 81 and then 60. The piece refers to Watson being the holder. His big wins were:

Masters Tournament: 1977, 1981
US Open: 1982
The Open Championship: 1975, 1977, 1980, 1982, 1983

This suggests the cutting is about the 1981 Open, which was held at Royal St George’s in Sandwich on July 16-19. Watson was the holder, Crenshaw played and the cup went to Rogers. The stats on the players were:

153 players
83 after 1st cut (81 according to the Guardian)
61 after 2nd cut (60 according to the Guardian)

The report, then, probably appeared on Saturday, 18 July.

So that makes it six years before the ditty was cited in Yes, Prime Minister. It wasn’t the same version, though, which Wikipedia put up some time in 2007:

Hacker: Don’t tell me about the press. I know exactly who reads the papers: the Daily Mirror is read by people who think they run the country; The Guardian is read by people who think they ought to run the country; The Times is read by the people who actually do run the country; the Daily Mail is read by the wives of the people who run the country; the Financial Times is read by people who own the country; the Morning Star is read by people who think the country ought to be run by another country; and The Daily Telegraph is read by people who think it is.
Sir Humphrey: Prime Minister, what about the people who read The Sun?
Bernard: Sun readers don’t care who runs the country, as long as she’s got big tits.

What’s brought all this to mind? Well, finding the cutting yesterday for one. And second, a fascinating insight in a Guardian news item about what sort of music psychopaths prefer. The answer is rap – with the  Blackstreet hit No Diggity and Eminem’s Lose Yourself getting a high rating. At the end of the article comes this par:

Kevin Dutton, a psychologist at Oxford, and the author of The Wisdom of Psychopaths, has been gathering data on musical tastes and other preferences for a psychopath study with Channel 4. More than three million people have responded so far, and while online surveys have serious weaknesses, the results so far suggest psychopaths favour rap music over classical and jazz. They also seem more likely to read the Financial Times than other newspapers.

Now that really is weird, because the FT has a tiny circulation compared with tabloids such as the Sun, and even other quality papers such as the Times and Telegraph.  An little extra insight comes from a 2012 Scientific American article by Dutton:

Jon Moulton, one of London’s most successful venture capitalists, agrees. In a recent interview with the Financial Times, he lists determination, curiosity and insensitivity as his three most valuable character traits. No prizes for guessing the first two. But insensitivity? The great thing about insensitivity, Moulton explains, is that “it lets you sleep when others can’t”.

So, there you go, it’s all about the silence of the nights of the venture capitalists.

Profiles and histories of Britain’s national newspapers 

On this day in magazines: Sunday Times supplement 1962

February 5, 2017
First issue cover of the Sunday Times Colour Section on 4 February 1962

First issue cover of the Sunday Times Colour Section, 4 February 1962

The first Sunday of February 1962 saw the advent of the Sunday Times Colour Section. It could not call itself a magazine then because the law prohibited magazines being published on a Sunday.

However, the colour supplement was a big factor in changing the nature of the magazine industry. The advent of commercial television in the mid-1950s had brought down general weekly magazines such as Picture Post, Everybody’s and Illustrated. And monthlies too, such as Lilliput. From 1962, the Sunday papers became another nail in the coffin of weekly magazines. John Bull had relaunched itself as Today but would last just another two years;  Tit-Bits, Reveille and Weekend would soldier on before eating each other up and closing in the 1980s. It was a story of slowly falling sales for women’s weeklies too, with their circulations having peaked in 1960.

Yet it was not all plain sailing for the first 1960s colour section. Mark Boxer had been tempted across from the upmarket monthly Queen as launch editor. He said he had only seven weeks to produce the first issue and would later say he was ‘amazed by its success’. He wanted to change the name to Sunday Times Colour Magazine but aside from the legal question, he was told that this might be interpreted as a sign of losing confidence. A few weeks after the launch, he said: ‘The supplement is still not being taken seriously. It is like the toy in the cornflake packet.’

The art director was John Donegan, who had worked in advertising and later became a cartoonist for Punch and the Sunday Express. The  cover for the first issue shows 11 photographs taken by David Bailey of Jean Shrimpton wearing a Mary Quant dress. They encircle a colour shot by photojournalist John Bulmer of Burnley’s legendary striker Jimmy McIlroy. The issue also published the Ian Fleming short story ‘The Living Daylights’, but was described ‘a crashing bore’ in the news weekly Topic.

At the start of its second year, the Colour Section began calling itself a Colour Magazine. That word ‘colour’ was the magic ingredient, enabling the Sunday Times to offer a colour national advertising vehicle to big advertisers.It finally became the Sunday Times Magazine in 1964.

The idea of supplements is not new, of course. The Times launched a women’s supplement in 1910, and a colour version a decade later, though bother were short lived. And the Times Literary Supplement and the paper’s Education and Higher Education supplements are still published. But these are exceptions to the rule that supplements cannot make it as magazines. The last one to try – the Mail on Sunday‘s You, was an embarrassing failure when it tried.

Roy Thomson starting the presses at Sun Engraving for the Sunday Times Colour Supplement in January 1962

Roy Thomson starting the presses at Sun Engraving for the first Sunday Times Colour Supplement in January 1962

‘Bore’ it might have been, but it pulled in the advertising revenue for Sunday Times owner Lord Thomson (a tycoon often remembered for saying that television was ‘a licence to print money’). Other papers took notice, with The Observer following suit on 6 September 1964 with a cover portrait of Lord Mountbatten by John Hedgecoe, who established the photography department at the Royal College of Art the next year. It took its inspiration from magazines such as Life and Paris Match as well as the Sunday Times supplement. A Daily Telegraph supplement was launched the same month. Late in the decade, the Mirror had a ago, but this did not last long. Nowadays, however, most of the national papers have several magazine supplements, as do many local and regional papers.

Mini painted by Alan Aldridge for the Sunday Times 1965

Painted Mini by Alan Aldridge for the Sunday Times 1965 Automania special

Under editors such as Godfrey Smith, Hunter Davies, Ron Hall, Philip Clarke and Robin Morgan, the Sunday Times Magazine was a breeding ground for photographers, editors and designers, with people such as Peter Crookston, the future Nova editor; David Hillman, the Nova designer and later Guardian redesigner; and Peter Fluck and Roger Law (Spitting Image puppet makers); and art editor and Soviet archive owner David King all going through its doors.

Michael Rand ran the art side of the supplement between 1963 and 1993. In a commemorative issue (5 February 2012) he said:

I never attempted a style for the magazine. I just wanted it busy but simply laid out, and there had to be tension there: grit and glamour. I realise now my unconscious influence was Picture Post. It had those great covers and was unashamedly a picture magazine. And I used a lot of illustration — David Hockney, Peter Blake and Ian Dury did front covers. There was a feeling that, creatively, you could do anything.

And the supplements could do pretty much anything. The October 1965 front cover above – an Automania special issue – is an example. It is a real Mini painted in his psychedelic style by Alan Aldridge. The car was white-washed and painted with 100 tubes of designer’s gouache, six cans of silver spray from Woolworths and checkered tape. It took five days. And then Denis Rolfe took the photo.

To encourage advertisers to prepare better artwork, the Telegraph group produced the Daily Telegraph Magazine Guide to Gravure Printing, a book written by its technical adviser, Otto M Lilien, in 1968. The expensive, 100-page guide was printed by Eric Bemrose, Aintree, the company that printed the magazine, with acetate pages produced by Harrison & Sons (High Wycombe) and binding by Tinlings of Liverpool.

The process and its technical differences from Letterpress and offset [lithography] are fully set out and illustrated In the following pages. Explanations are given to assist the achievement of the best possible results from the use of gravure through suitable basic design, typography, Artwork, photography and layout

The cost of printing the Mirror Magazine lost IPC millions of pounds in 1970

The cost of printing the Mirror Magazine lost IPC millions of pounds in 1970

Supplements had massive print runs on the country’s biggest gravure presses, and budgets to match because their economics were not the economics of a paid-for magazine.

However, get it wrong on a supplement and the printing costs could kill you – as it did the Mirror Magazine. IPC launched the supplement but the massive 5 million print run was too long for the  copper cylinders on the gravure presses at Odhams Press in Watford. That meant two sets of very expensive cylinders – and the Mirror Magazine closed within a year having lost £7 million.

 

What’s a copy of the Sunday Times Magazine worth?

 


To see almost 500 magazine covers and pages, look out for my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design

 

 

 


On this day in magazines: Punch 1954

February 3, 2017
Illingworth's controversial Punch cartoon of Churchill from February, 1954

Illingworth’s controversial Punch cartoon of Churchill from February 3, 1954

From its inception in 1841, Punch magazine built on the great tradition of English satire.

Fleet Street's Punch Tavern, with the eponymous puppet above the doorway

Fleet Street’s Punch Tavern, with the eponymous puppet above the doorway

Its founders originally held meetings in the Edinburgh Castle Tavern on The Strand. However, when its offices moved from 13 Wellington Street in Covent Garden to 85 Fleet Street, the magazine’s editors also moved east, to the Crown and Sugar Loaf at 99 Fleet Street. So, when the architects Saville and Martin rebuilt the pub in 1894-95 with the Baker Brothers, as part of a public house boom, they changed its name to The Punch Tavern. Mr Punch’s sharp chin and nose can be seen above the door to this day, and the The Punch Tavern was listed in 1996.

By the 1920s, Punch magazine could boast that its advertising pages were booked months ahead. However, three decades later, Bradbury Agnew & Co, its publishers, could see that sales were in decline. Cartoonists had once been the scourge of politicians, but they had lost their bite in Punch and readers were being tempted away by new-fangled televisions. The response from Bradbury Agnew was to appoint a new editor, Malcolm Muggeridge, in 1953. He sacked the magazine’s lead cartoonist, EH Shepard, the Winnie the Pooh illustrator, who had held the position since 1945.

In 1954, Punch was still using a front cover that was little different from Dicky Doyle's design from a century earlier

In 1954, Punch was still using Dicky Doyle’s front cover design from a century earlier

Within a year of Muggeridge’s editorship, in the issue of 3 February 1954, Punch pulled off a controversial coup in Leslie Illingworth’s 1954 sketch of Winston Churchill for the weekly’s ‘Big Cut’ cartoon.

The portrayal of an ailing prime minister – rather than the man who had epitomised the British bulldog spirit – with the caption ‘Man Goeth Forth unto his Work and to his Labour until the Evening’ upset friends of Britain’s wartime leader and the man himself. Churchill has been quoted as saying: ‘Yes, there’s malice in it. Look at my hands – I have beautiful hands … Punch goes everywhere. I shall have to retire if this sort of thing goes on.’

Illingworth had held down two positions right at the top of the cartoon world through the war, working for both Punch and the Daily Mail. As the British Cartoon Archive says:

It was noted in 1942 that Illingworth’s busiest time began on Thursday mornings, after the Punch cartoon had been commissioned the previous day. This was “Illingworth’s toughest period of the week…when he has a Punch cartoon and two Mail cartoons to produce before Saturday”, and he would often work through the night and into the next day to produce the detailed drawings. His wartime cartoons were very successful, and after the war a cutting of one of his Daily Mail cartoons – from 14 January 1944 – was found in the ruins of Hitler’s chancellery.

As the Political Cartoon Society points out, Churchill was deeply offended, but it was Muggeridge’s strategy to ‘make a loud nasty noise of the kind nobody associated with Punch‘.  It quotes Muggeridge saying to a friend in late January 1954:

As he sprang from the train [Muggeridge] remarked with profound satisfaction that the issue of the magazine he had just sent to the press was ‘likely to get us all in a lot more hot water’

It also cites Churchill’s doctor, Lord Moran: ‘There was something un-English in this savage attack on his failing powers. The eyes were dull and lifeless.’

Writing in the Journal of European Studies, Mark Bryant sums up his view on Illingworth in an article entitled ‘Crusader, white rabbit or organ-grinder’s monkey? Leslie Illingworth and the British political cartoon in World War II’:

If anyone deserved an award for his work in peace-time or war it was Illingworth. Praised by Sir Alfred Munnings, former president of the Royal Academy, he has been called ‘the last of the great penmen in the line of English social satirists starting with Hogarth’ and ‘probably the most outstanding cartoonist that Punch ever had’. Nicholas Garland has also described him as ‘the last of a great line of black and white draughtsmen … There is no mystery about his work. It is just superb.’ (1 September 2001, pp 345-366, vol 31, issue 123)

Ronald Searle's cartoon of Churchill in Punch from 18 April, 1956

Ronald Searle’s cartoon of Churchill in Punch from 18 April, 1956

Even after that controversy, Muggeridge’s Punch did not leave Churchill alone. Ronald Searle set about the prime minister again in 1956. The photograph Searle depicted on the wall behind Churchill is of the PM at the Yalta conference with Stalin and Roosevelt in 1945.

The newspaper headline refers to ‘Stalin in disgrace’ and the titles of the books on top of the bookcase are ‘Roosevelt, the Truth’ and ‘Inside Roosevelt’, referring to criticism of the US president’s record that had emerged. Roosevelt’s death within months of the Yalta conference was met with shock in the US because his declining physical health had been kept secret from the public.

Muggeridge left his position after four years, probably because the Punch owners found him  too controversial.


To see almost 500 magazine covers and pages, look out for my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design


On this day in magazines: Picture Post 1941

February 1, 2017
Picture Post from 1 February 1941 with a Bert Hardy photography of Blitz firefighters

Picture Post from 1 February 1941 with a Bert Hardy photography of Blitz firefighters

I’ve spent much of the past few years perusing collections of magazines in places such as the V&A’s National Art Library, the British Museum and St Bride’s. In the process, I’ve built up a collection of 40,000 images of magazines to add to a physical collection of several thousand issues.

So, this month I’m delving into this archive to show what publishers have been producing for their readers in the month of February over the past 150 years. It runs the gamut from Dickens’ Boz to Oz, from Good Housekeeping to Sublime, from Madonna to green jelly.

First off the storage stacks is the legendary Picture Post from 1 February 1941. The cover is iconic – two men struggling with a hose in the burning streets of London. ‘Fire-fighters!’ was an example of photojournalism at its best – and saw Bert Hardy’s photo-essay about Blitz-stressed fire-fighters win him his first credit in the magazine. Stefan Lorant, Picture Post editor, had never credited photographers. One oft-cited reason for this was that they were mainly fugitives from the Nazis, like himself, and he was afraid they would be interned by the authorities (he was right, they were; and he fled to the US). In print, the magazine wrote:

From our rule of anonymity we except these pictures. They were taken by A. [Albert] Hardy, one of our own cameramen.

Hardy became the most popular photographer of the 20th century, and you’ll recognise Hardy’s images. The house in South London where Hardy was born carries a plaque that was voted for by local people.

strand_1942feb_blitz_nelson660.jpg

The Strand in February 1942 showed how the area around St Paul’s and Fleet Street was devastated

The London Blitz hit at the heart of the publishing trade, for books, magazines and newspapers, because all the books, paper and oil-based printing inks stored along Fleet Street and The Strand – from St Paul’s to Charing Cross – made it a prime target for the Luftwaffe. It should also be remembered that the Nazis started burning books in 1933, an event that led the printing and typesetting companies a mile away in Clerkenwell to found the Karl Marx Memorial Library. Also, the area was easy to identify because the nearby Thames river could clearly be seen from the air.

The War, a weekly from Nelsons, from 31 October 1914

The War, a picture-based weekly from Nelsons, from 31 October 1914

The Strand of February 1942 ran an article ‘Beauty in the Blitz’ with three pages of photographs by Cecil Beaton. The image above looking north shows how Paternoster Row, running east-west on the north side of St Paul’s Cathedral, was destroyed in the bombing. Picture Post‘s office were just a few hundred yards away in Shoe Lane.

Note the nameplate to the left of the doorway – Nelson & Sons. Nelson is today known as an educational book publisher, but is has published magazines, particularly artworks. The War, a weekly during the First World War, being an example.

The area north of St Paul’s is today focused on the modern Paternoster Square. This includes a monument marking the 1666 Great Fire and the Blitz of December 1940. The route of Paternoster Row, which old maps show going east-west to Amen Corner, has been re-routed south round the west side of St Paul’s.


To see almost 500 magazine covers and pages, look out for my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design


Clare Hollingworth: grande dame of war reporters

January 15, 2017
Clare Hollingworth in her war correspondent's uniform - note the shoulder flash

Clare Hollingworth in her uniform – note the war correspondent epaulettes

Only a week ago, I was writing about Women war reporters and ‘immersion journalism’ and a few days later, Clare Hollingworth, the ‘grande dame of war correspondents‘ died at the age of 105. She is truly one of the women who could have inspired the short story and illustration in a Woman magazine of 1945 about war reporter ‘Julie Wilson’.

In the 1930s, she went to Katowice in Poland, where she and her husband helping 3,000 Jews to escape from the Nazis, as well as Austrians and Germans who opposed Hitler — a role that earned her the Fleet Street nickname, ‘the Scarlet Pimpernel’.

She then talked her way into Daily Telegraph and landed in Berlin as its freelance foreign correspondent on August 26, 1939 — hours before Goering banned all civilian flights in German airspace. Days later she had her first scoop, though not with her own byline, by breaking the news of Germany’s invasion of Poland.

The Imperial War Museum holds Clare Hollingworth's epaulettes

The Imperial War Museum holds Clare Hollingworth’s epaulettes

Her litany of scoops is incredible: the first interview in a British paper with the young Shah of Iran in 1941; getting behind enemy lines in Egypt in 1941 — when she wasn’t even supposed to get anywhere near the front line; working for Time magazine after Montgomery banned her; learning to fly during the war; covering Palestine and Jerusalem (where her hotel was blown up) after the war, for the News of the World and the Economist; being the first to twig that Kim Philby had defected to the Soviet Union – though the Guardian wouldn’t print it for several months for fear of a libel suit; What the Papers Say award in 1962 for her astounding coverage of the Algerian war; covering Vietnam; the first female defence correspondent at the Guardian in 1963; the first resident China correspondent for the Daily Telegraph; watching the Tiananmen Square uprising in 1989 from a balcony of the Peking hotel.

In Leonie Mason's short story, Julie Wilson is an official war correspondent

In Leonie Mason’s short story, ‘Julie Wilson’ is an official war correspondent

She was given the James Cameron Award for Journalism in 1994 and a lifetime achievement award at the What the Papers Say awards in 1999.

In between all this, her great nephew, Patrick Garrett, has recounted many love affairs and how she threatened another journalist who was having an affair with her husband with a Mauser pistol that she pulled from her handbag.

From 1981 she had lived in Hong Kong with a regular table at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, where she celebrated her 105th birthday in October with champagne.

There are two books about Hollingworth: her 1990 autobiography, Front Line; and the 2015 biography by Patrick Garrett,  Of Fortunes and War: Clare Hollingworth, First of the Female War Correspondents. The Imperial War Museum has taped interviews with Hollingworth from 2001.Her choice of luxury for Desert Island Discs in 1999 was paper and pens (with thick nibs).

McCullin, Wintour and Brookes given honours

December 31, 2016
Don McCullin photographer Anna Wintour, Vogue editor Times cartoonist Peter Brookes. Pic: Richard Pohle
Don McCullin, former war photographer Anna Wintour, chief of the US edition of Vogue Times cartoonist Peter Brookes – did Oz covers

Photojournalist Don McCullin, Anna Wintour, chief of the US edition of Vogue, and Times cartoonist Peter Brookes are the prominent names in this new year’s honours list.

The 81-year-old McCullin, who made his name on Town and The Sunday Times  Magazine among others, has been knighted.

Peter 'Hack' Brookes cover for Oz magazine from 1971

Peter ‘Hack’ Brookes cover from 1971

Peter Brookes, who in the past drew for underground magazine Oz, has been made a CBE. In a news item in The Times today headlined ‘I won’t start pulling my punches’, the 73-year-old cartoonist defends accepting the award:

I am glad to live in a country that recognises cartoonists in this particular way. There will be those who wonder whether Theresa  May and others can justifiably say ‘we have got him now’. My feeling is very much that they haven’t. I am not going to stop hitting hard.

He points to the contrast between his honour and the treatment of Atena Farghadani, who was jailed in Iran for 12 years after posting a cartoon in protest at laws restricting birth control and divorce. ‘She has been jailed for doing the sort of drawing I do three or four times a week,’ Brookes said.

Anna Wintour, who was appointed editor of ­American Vogue in 1987 after two years at the helm of the British edition, has been made a dame, while veteran Liverpudlian comic Ken Dodd is knighted at the age of 89. His world of Diddymen and the Jam Butty Mines in Knotty Ash has been a legend in my lifetime. Difficult to imagine ‘Nuclear Wintour’ repeating the sentiments of Daddy on hearing his news: ‘full of plumptiousness’ and ‘highly tickled’.

Gravure printing at The Telegraph – 3 days on the presses

December 30, 2016
The first of the DailyTelegraph's colour magazines in 1964

The first of the Daily Telegraph’s colour magazines in 1964

The Daily Telegraph launched its colour supplement on 25 September 1964. It was christened the Weekend Telegraph, and came out with the Friday paper. By 1968 it was printing 1.5 million copies a week. The supplement was first called The Weekend Telegraph and later The Daily Telegraph Magazine.

Of course, it was not the first of the 1960s newspaper supplements, The Sunday Times having led the way with its colour section in 1962, but September 1964 was a busy month with The Observer launching its version on Sunday, the 6th. The Observer‘s supplement launch can be seen in the context of the launch of The Sunday Telegraph, which had hit the streets on February 5, 1961, though it had no magazine and would not get one until the 1970s. The aim of these supplements was to enable the papers to offer colour advertising across the nation – and it was a strategy that damaged revenues at magazines.

The Telegraph‘s printing was handled by Eric Bemrose in Aintree, Liverpool, on gravure presses. This was a massive operation, producing magazines of up to 80 pages, 60 of which could be printed in four colours.

The Daily Telegraph produced a 1968 book written by Otto Lilien, its printing consultant, which described the process in depth. A diagram at the heart of the volume shows a press configuration of 13 units, with each unit printing one colour on one side of a massive ‘web’ of paper. There were two of these giant ‘toilet rolls’ feeding paper into the presses.

Each gravure printing cylinder was 70 inches wide, with a circumference of 42in, meaning it could carry the engraving of five pages across and four pages round – 20 pages in all.

The press configuration used five units on one web. This  printed black only on one side of the paper and four colours on the other (4/1 or ‘four back one’ printing). The second web used eight cylinders to produce four colours on both sides of the web (4/4).

Once up to speed, the presses produced 18,000 copies an hour. So it would take about 83 hours – more than three days of the presses running round the clock – to print the whole run.

The issues were ‘self-cover’, so the covers were printed on the same paper as part of the same run. Once the two webs, each printing 40 pages, had gone through the presses, they came together and were folded, trimmed and ‘saddle-stitched’ (stapled) to make an 80-page issue. The binding machines operated at 20,000 copies an hour.

 

 

New Zealand makes itself felt

December 5, 2016

I keep noticing New Zealand coming more and more on to the magazine and design map. First, there was Revolutions from Grub Street, the first comprehensive business history of Britain’s consumer magazine history by Howard Cox and Simon Mowatt. Although Howard is in the UK (he’s professor of international business history at Worcester Business School), Simon hails from the School of Art & Design at Auckland University of Technology (or Te Wānanga Aronui o Tāmaki Makau Rau, as they say down there).

Then, there was a recent talk at St Bride’s by Kris Sowersby, the Kiwi typographer who developed the typeface for the most recent redesign at the Financial Times.

And there was an excellent lecture on strikers’ newsletters during a 1950s waterfront dispute at the Printers Unite! conference last month by Patricia Thomas from Massey University in Wellington.

Finally, tomorrow is the launch of Back Story, the Journal of New Zealand Art, Media and Design History. Simon Mowatt is one of the leading light in that too.

The strange ways of Fleet Street: Jack the Ripper expert paid in unused £1 notes

October 12, 2016
Weekend magazine cover in 1959 (jan21). At this time it was published in a tabloid format

Weekend magazine cover in 1959, when Richard Whittington-Egan began working there. At this time it was published in a tabloid format

A recent obituary in the Telegraph for Richard Whittington-Egan, mentioned an interesting tit-bit about Fleet Street practices. Whittington-Egan was known as a ‘towering authority’ on Jack the Ripper, but earned his living as a journalist on Weekend, a popular general interest magazine.

Weekend magazine in 1964, soon after it had taken over Today. Alexandra Bastedo, star of The Champions TV series, is on the cover

Weekend magazine in 1964, soon after it had taken over Today. Alexandra Bastedo, star of The Champions TV series, is on the cover

He worked at Weekend‘s offices at Northcliffe House off Fleet Street  between 1957 and 1986 – in ‘a job he detested’, but it must have paid the bills and gave him the time to indulge his passions. And a condition of his contract was that ‘he was paid weekly, every Friday, in unused £1 notes’!

In that time, Weekend moved from a tabloid newspaper format with a colour cover to an A4 magazine, a strategy also used by rivals John Bull (which became Today in 1960) and Tit-Bits. Weekend took over Today in 1964 and Tit-Bits in 1984, but closed down itself five year later.

The obit makes him out to have been quite a character whose work ‘was as remarkable for its singularly convoluted style as it was for his probing, almost obsessive, research’:

A kinsman of Dick Whittington, the 14th century Lord Mayor of London, Whittington-Egan, with his signature pipe, stiffly starched collar and lined cape, cut an old-world figure of studied manner and speech. To some, however, his rich prose was no less fussy and idiosyncratic: a contemporary marked him out as ‘one of the last surviving and most expert exponents of the broderie anglaise style of writing’…

But despite the stylistic curlicues, Whittington-Egan was a shrewd analyst of the criminal mind. He developed an encyclopaedic knowledge of the Jack the Ripper killings in the East End of London in the autumn of 1888, and was a dissenting voice when, in 1965, the American author Tom Cullen identified the Ripper as an obscure barrister, Montague John Druitt. ‘It won’t do,’ complained Whittington-Egan, ‘it simply won’t do.’

Weekend magazine in 1985 (nov19) with Felicity Kendall on the cover

Weekend magazine in 1985 (nov 19) with TV actress Felicity Kendal on the cover

His 1975 study, A Casebook on Jack The Ripper, tackled the theories about the Ripper’s identity and dismissed them all: ‘The verdict must remain undisturbed: some person or persons unknown.’

Associated Newspapers – part of the Daily Mail group – owned the magazine. Its offices, Northcliffe House, were in Tudor Street, off Fleet Street and are today occupied by a law firm, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. The building name – after the Answers magazine and Daily Mail founder Alfred Harmsworth, later Lord Northcliffe – is also used for the Daily Mail‘s office, in Kensington, today. The name Weekend is now found on the Daily Mail‘s Saturday magazine supplement.

Of course, it’s no wonder Whittington-Egan developed an interest in the macabre, for he worked yards way from Johnson’s Court, the alley that is supposed to be the site of the barber shop of Sweeney Todd, the demon barber of Fleet Street.

Liverpool-born Whittington-Egan broadcast frequently on BBC Radio Merseyside and was a member of the Society for Psychical Research, investigating ghosts and poltergeists. He was 91 when he died. Read the Telegraph obituary.