Archive for the ‘women’s magazines’ Category

In search of the romantic kiss

March 29, 2015
Rafael Sabatini's Captain Blood brought to visual life on the cover of Pearson's Magazine (1930) by Joseph Greenup

Rafael Sabatini’s Captain Blood brought to visual life on the cover of Pearson’s Magazine (1930) by Joseph Greenup

Fiction, in the form of short stories, serials or character-driven series, seems to have been a staple of magazines for as long as they have existed. Dickens, HG Wells, Conan Doyle and Rafael Sabatini are among those who made their name providing the weekly or monthly adventures, Christie and Edgar Wallace the crime, and Ursula Bloom and Ruby M. Ayres the romantic fiction. The Georgian and early Victorian works by the likes of Dickens were not illustrated, but the images of Sidney Paget for The Strand set the tone for the way Holmes has been portrayed, in print or on the screen, since they were first published.

To my eyes, depicting adventure is relatively easy – whether it be the Martian invaders for War of the Worlds or the piratical looks of Sabatini’s Captain Blood by Joseph Greenup – but romantic fiction is harder. Particularly in more prurient times, getting the balance right between love and lust is tricky. Artists, and later photographers, have striven to portray romance – and in particular the kiss. Here are two examples. The first is an illustration from ‘Honesty is the best policy’, a short story by Jane England in Woman’s Friend (22 May 1937). England started writing in the 1920s until about 1970, producing about 60 novels. Philsp.com lists England as the pseudonym of Vera Murdoch Stuart Jervis (1896-1967) and credits her with one serial and five short stories in five magazine titles:

  • ‘End of desire’, The Novel Magazine (May 1937);
  • ‘Knight-errant’, Lovat Dickson’s Magazine (Jun 1934);
  • ‘The last drift’, The Royal Magazine (Nov 1925);
  • ‘Old lamps’, The New Magazine (Oct 1926);
  • ‘Thin ice’, 20-Story Magazine (Feb 1933).

The drawing is signed, but this is not legible.

The youngsters steal a kiss in a short story from Woman's Friend (22 May 1937)

The youngsters steal a kiss in a short story from Woman’s Friend (22 May 1937)

Here is a detail of the painting, with the signature (which someone may be able to identify). Note the corner of the picture frame by the man’s shoulder, which seems to point to the courting couple like an arrow, and the file storage boxes on the shelf leaning into each other.

Detail of Woman's Friend romantic kiss illustration

Detail of Woman’s Friend romantic kiss illustration

Illustration signature

Illustration signature

The drawing was published by Woman’s Friend in 1937, while the photographic spread below dates from three years earlier. It was during the 1930s that the battle for dominance between artist and photographer in magazines reached its peak, and, after the war, it was the latter that came out on top. At least for the next 50 years.

How film stars kiss from London Life 30 June 1934

How film stars kiss from London Life 30 June 1934

The spread is from London Life, which specialised in reproducing risqué film stills. It is a montage of five film stills as the woman swoons in anticipation in the man’s arms. At the top left are Ronald Coleman, with, below him and the unidentified actress, Mexican actress Lupe Vélez in the grip of John Boles in Resurrection (1931); Jean Harlow is in a ‘caveman embrace’ in the centre; and while the oldest still of a couple in a similar embrace is not identified, the bottom right is a more light-hearted Maurice Chevalier and Anne Dvorak in Way to Love (1933). Note, though, that the actual kiss is not shown, possibly because it was very difficult to portray a kiss while still being able to see the faces of both parties in a recognisable way. But then, after all, this was film publicity – and anticipation was everything.

A different type of magazine marketing

January 26, 2015

It’s January 1940. the Second World War is four months old, but the conflict still seems far away for most people in Britain. The next few months would see the Germans move into Scandinavia and sea battles at Narvik, but Dunkirk was five months away, the summer would bring the Battle of Britain fought in the air – and then the bombing Blitz on British cities in December. Meanwhile, at Woman’s Fair, an Odhams women’s weekly filled with American fiction and illustration, the war has hit home with the price of paper – an imported commodity from Scandinavia and Canada – shooting up.

The editor bemoans in a whimsical article, ‘We are going up':

Paper has become about as precious as gold and we’ve been wondering whether we should make Woman’s Fair smaller or ask you to pay a tiny proportion of wartime paper costs. We don’t believe you’d like a smaller Woman’s Fair and so instead we’re making it a penny more. Your February issue will cost 7d.

The editor of Woman's Fair blames wartime paper costs for the magazine's price rise

The editor of Woman’s Fair blames wartime paper costs for the magazine’s price rise

All supplies from Scandinavia were soon lost and soon the German U-boats would be hounding Britain’s convoys, where food and weapons no doubt took precedence over paper for magazines.

By 1942, publishers were cut to a ration of less than a fifth of their pre-war usage. The result was that many magazines closed, they all had fewer pages, some cut their page size and the battle was on to cram as many words on to the precious paper as possible – in the case of Woman’s Own, even starting articles on the cover.

The standard fare of the magazine was beauty, as shown by a Pathe news-reel called ‘Beautifying! Where to Put the Accent!’ The short film is based on Jean Barrie, ‘Beauty Editress’ of Woman’s Fair showing us ‘where to put the accent on our beauty’.

Marketing was important in drawing as many readers in as possible before the lack of paper supplies really bit.

'Once I was a Pretty Girl' - a poem designed to encourage subscribers to Woman's Fair magazine at the start of WW2 in 1940

‘Once I was a Pretty Girl’ – a poem designed to encourage subscribers to Woman’s Fair magazine in 1940 during the first year of WW2

At Woman’s Fair they took a creative approach with a poem, ‘Once I was a Pretty Girl':

Once I was a pretty girl
A witty girl, a city girl,
Now I’m just a pity girl’
Was poor Amelia’s cry.

‘My skin is yellow, dull and lined,
My hair a mass of tangles twined,
My sex appeal has quite declined
Won’t someone tell me why?’

‘Of course we will the secreet share,
Cried Maud and Milly, Kate and Clare,
‘You haven’t ordered WOMEN’S FAIR,
And wise girls will allow

It’s WOMEN’S FAIR that marks the trends,
That guides the feet and shapes our ends
And turns to husbands our boy-friends –
RESERVE YOUR COPY NOW!’

There’s an order form on page 61

A Pore Em’ly poem in Woman’s Fair preys on the beauty worries of its readers

A Pore Em’ly poem in Woman’s Fair preys on the beauty worries of its readers

A few pages later, the message was reinforced, again stressing the danger of becoming a dowdy woman:

Pore Em’ly
Em’ly Brown was a glamour girl,
Witht sparkling figure and hair a-curl,
And luscious teeth of mother-of-pearl’
Oh, Em’ly was delicious!

But that, alass, was in days pre-war’
And now she’s known as the Awful Bore’
Her face is one GIGANTIC poer –
So she stays at home washing dishes.

Poor Em’ly knows as well as not
Why her looks and wit have gone to pot’
For she quite forgot (may her conscience rot,
May she tear her hair in sheer despair)
She quite FORGOT – believe it or not –
To reserve her copy of WOMAN’S FAIR.

The text goes on:

MORAL: Don’t be like Pore Em’ly. The war has made us short of paper and so your newsagent will be short of your copy of WOMAN’S FAIR unless you tell him to keep you one. NOW! – ED

The attitude to readers at Woman’s Fair seems pretty cynical. And the magazine was undoubtedly put together on the cheap, buying in almost all its copy and illustrations from the US. Among the imported material was:

  • cover illustrated by Jon Whitcomb cover (where the woman seems to have a voodoo doll in her hair);
  • Lyn Arnold short story ‘Life begins in January';
  • Wilton Matthews fiction, ‘She Made His Bed’, illustrated by Jon Whitcomb;
  • ‘She’s a Treasure’ by Lester Ashwell;
  • ‘This Time it’s True’ by Gladys Taber. Illustrated by Earl Cordrey;
  • White Magic serial by Faith Baldwin.

The only prominent British illustrator commissioned was Clixby Watson, who was a regular choice for top magazines such as  Lilliput, Nash’s Pall Mall Magazine and The Passing Show as well as Woman, the leading woman’s weekly at Odhams. He also worked for advertisers, including Mars’ Spangles sweets.

Women’s monthly magazines

What about the undies?

January 19, 2015
A Woman's Own centre spread from 1939 - 'She likes undies'

A Woman’s Own centre spread from 1939 – ‘She likes undies’

Undies. When did you last see that word? It used to be used on women’s magazine covers and in headlines quite a lot. But where do you see it now? Fashion journalists in magazines were certainly not afraid to use it in 1939 – as this centre spread from Woman’s Own shows – ‘She likes undies.’

And in Woman’s Fair in its January 1940 ‘Wishful thinking’ editorial for the new year: ‘We are going to stop hoarding old evening dresses and decrepit undies and make instead the beauteous evening gala outfit on page 24.’ At the end of the 1940s, here are undies as the topic for the main cover line above the title on Woman’s Pictorial:

Woman's Pictorial magazine from 1949 with the cover line: 'Beutiful undies to make and embrioder'

Woman’s Pictorial magazine from 1949 with the cover line: ‘Beautiful undies to make and embroider’

But note that these were the days when fashionable women made their own. I can’t see such an article causing Woman’s Own to go flying off the shelves today. Fashions change and it seems that reliable, cheap undies from Marks and Spencer tempted women away from their sowing machines. By 1991, the Times could inform us: ‘And we know that Margaret Thatcher gets her undies at M&S. “Doesn’t everybody?” she asked a television reporter.’

The full Oxford English Dictionary defines undies as meaning ‘Articles of girls’ or women’s underclothing’. In support, it quotes:

  • 1906. Punch 30 May: ‘She’d blouses for Sundays, And marvellous “undies” concocted of ribbons and lace.’
  • 1920. Arnold Bennett, the Woman editor and novelist, in his book Our Women: Chapters on the Sex-discord: ‘You have only to reflect … upon the astonishing public importance given to what are delicately known as “undies”.’
  • 1939. Arthur Ransome in Secret Water: ‘Go on, Bridgie. Off with your things. Undies too.’ (Doesn’t sound like it’s from one of his Swallows and Amazons children’s books!)
  • 1967. Crime writer Nicolas Freeling in one of his Van der Valk books, Strike Out Where Not Applicable: Arlette … knows I’m not just belting off for the afternoon because of the black undies.

But that OED definition needs rewriting because undies are for men these days, as the Christmas clash of the male models shows:

David Gandy has claimed victory over David Beckham in the battle of the undies – and even made the astonishing claim that his underwear range has single-handedly saved Marks & Spencer (Mail on Sunday, 18 January 2015)

Undies meaning men’s underwear is a trend that goes back to at least 1993, when the Evening Standard talked about a company ‘that makes men’s undies’ and there was an ‘offer’ in another newspaper that year, the a Daily Star: ‘Buy a pair of Gazza’s undies.’

However, a quick flick through the newspaper cuttings suggests the word is these days much more likely to appear in the Sun than a broadsheet. While the ever-so-posh Lucia van der Post was quite happy to talk about undies for How to Spend It, the Financial Times glossy magazine, the FT put the word in quotes last year in a column by David Tang; almost as if it’s not quite a safe word to touch for its tycoon columnist (a sense suggested in that ‘delicately known as’ phrase from Arnold Bennett in 1920):

A stay at a flash hotel in Miami last year had us in a suite of rooms with a huge art-deco style bathroom, beautifully decorated in black and white, but with nowhere to sit or put one’s ‘undies’

‘One’s undies.’ Now that’s a really rare phrase.

The future of women’s magazines

January 11, 2015

BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour ran an interview last week on the ‘Future of Women’s Magazines‘, which is available on iPlayer. The programme summary is:

Readerships of print magazines are falling in favour of digital and mobile editions. Is online a poor substitute for the real thing or is that view outdated? We get some magazine editors [including the editors of Elle and Libertine] together to ask what is the future of women’s magazines and what are they doing to survive?

This programme also featured part of an interview with the magazine journalist Alice Head, part of the Woman’s Hour Collection, who from 1924 was the second editor of Good Housekeeping magazine and worked with Lord Alfred Douglas and William Randolph Hearst. She also set up the Good Housekeeping Institute.

Illustration in the Great War

December 31, 2014
Illustrated drop capital from a page in Home Chat, one of the best-selling women's weeklies

Illustrated drop capital from Home Chat

Pick up any weekly magazine from the first 2o years of the last century and you’ll find it packed full of line illustrations produced by black-and-white artists. Most of the drawings were small but there were usually several on most pages.

These were gradually replaced by photographs – though these were decorated by hand-drawn ‘frames’ for many years – but also magazines simply dropped many of these illustrative elements.

These images from Home Chat, a cheaply produced women’s weekly from Northcliffe’s Amalgamated Press, show what I mean.

Home Chat was one of the best-selling women’s weeklies. It was founded in 1895 with a page size between A5 and A4 and lasted until 1959, when there was a high level of disruption in weekly magazines because of a loss of audience to television – and a loss of advertising to the ITV companies.

A 'letter parrot' from Home Chat for children

A ‘letter parrot’

This parrot made up of the letters of the word was used on the four central pages, which were aimed at children.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A page from Home Chat of photographs in decorative, hand-drawn picture frames

A page of photographs in decorative, hand-drawn picture frames

A page of photographs displayed in hand-drawn picture frame in the art nouveau style.

Playbox titlepiece from Home Chat

Playbox titlepiece from Home Chat

And finally, the decorative title piece for the children’s Playbox section. This issue is from 1914, when the scouts were still a relatively new organisation, having been founded just seven years earlier when Boer War hero Robert Baden-Powell held a camp on Brownsea Island in Poole with just 20 boys. The movement was supported by one of the biggest magazine and newspaper magnets of the era, C. Arthur Pearson, who helped ‘BP’ popularise the movement with Scouting for Boys, a magazine published a year later in six fortnightly parts. Pearson provided staff and printing presses. The magazine was collated into a book and became one of the best-selling titles of the 20th century.

At the seige of Mafeking in the Boer War, BP had recruited and trained boys as postmen, messengers and later to carry the wounded. This freed up the men to fight and the scouts performed a similar role in Britain during the First World War.

The scouts later returned the favour after Pearson went blind by helping to promote Braille during the war.

The telephone wires are also significant because phones were still relatively rare – there were about 500,000 in the country for a population of about 46 million and the Post Office had only taken over the national system two years before. Alfred Harmsworth (Lord Northcliffe), Home Chat‘s owner, was a technology enthusiast who used his personal wealth and publications to promote inventions such as the telephone.

Joan Collins a dame after 50 years on magazine covers

December 31, 2014
Debut magazine cover: Joan Collins on the front of Tit-Bits in 1951 – she was 18 at the time

Debut magazine cover: Joan Collins on the front of Tit-Bits in 1951 – she was 18 at the time

It must have been the publicity for Joan Collins on Magforum that did it – at 81 she joins the ranks of the nation’s dames (and we’re not talking pantomimes here) in the New Year’s Honours list. Though they say it was for services to charity, we all know it was for services to magazine covers over 53 years (which is as long as she’s been an actress, and a lot longer than she’s been writing books or doing charitable works). According to IMDB, her first role was in Facts and Fancies, a 17-minute short about ‘by-products resulting from the carbonisation of coal’ in 1951.

Miss Fish and her Eve drawings for Tatler

December 30, 2014
One of Miss Fish's drawings of Eve, from the popular Tatler column

One of Miss Fish’s drawings of Eve, from the popular Tatler column

One of the pleasures in writing a book about the history of magazines is discovering great talents that were household names a century or more ago but have since faded from the public gaze. One of those is Anne Harriet Fish. Miss Fish illustrated Tatler’s ‘Letters of Eve’ during the First World War and was 0ne of the most popular features of the magazine. The column started in May 1914 and was written by Olivia Maitland-Davidson with Anne Harriet Fish providing the drawings.

The witty, gossipy column of a society girl, like the rest of the magazine, had to alter its approach when Tatler suffered a considerable drop in sales at the outbreak of the war.

The Tatler was edited at the time by Edward Huskinson, himself a former cartoonist. He kept the magazine’s ‘light’ approach but aimed the humour at men in the armed forces and their families at home. The problem affected most publications – as demonstrated by circulation figures from the Financial Times, which saw its sales half during 1914, from an average of 15,000 a day to 7,000. Tatler‘s owner, Shorter, also owned the Sketch and another society weekly, the Bystander.

The Bystander changed its cover masthead to depict soldiers guarding the coast and then a man in uniform back at home in Blighty, rather than just society types sitting around chatting and reading.

Tatler Eve illustrator Anne Harriet Fish photographed in about 1915

Tatler Eve illustrator Anne Harriet Fish – Annie Fish – photographed in about 1915

Annie Fish’s unusual style created a ‘great vogue’ that was copied by designers of hats, coats and handkerchiefs; a play based a scene on a Fish drawing; a New Bond Street galley held an exhibition of her work; and a dozen short films used the drawings, with titles such as Eve Resolves to do War Work. The Eve illustrations were published as books, as were Maitland-Davidson’s columns.

The British Library lists 16 books written or illustrated by Fish, including Gilbert Frankau’s One of Us … With pictures by Fish (1917); The New Eve. Drawings by Fish written and designed by Fowl. Reproduced from … ‘The Tatler’ (1917); Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. Rendered into English verse by Edward Fitzgerald. With decorations by Fish (1922); Lipstick by Lady Vincent (1925); and All’s Well that Ends Swell. Auto suggestion for sensitive souls (1939).

Jazz Age dancers by AH Fish on the cover of Vanity fair, December 1927

Jazz Age dancers by AH Fish on the cover of Vanity fair, December 1927

Fish also worked for Vogue and did 30 covers portraying high society at play for Vanity Fair. These art deco style covers ran through the 1920s, depicting the bright young things, flappers and ballrooms full of elegantly dressed dancers in the Jazz Age.

In among the books above, Fish’s fame crossed the Atlantic, with a 1920 work of her drawings with text by American writers. It was published in New York with the title: High Society. The drawings by Fish. The prose precepts by Dorothy Parker, George S. Chappell, and Frank Crowninshiel. Condé Nast now owns both the Tatler and Vanity Fair.

One of the Condé Nast blogs by Shawn Waldron noted that the High Society book portrayed:

… a world populated by young-old matrons, astoundingly mature young girls, Victorian lady remnants, resplendent captains of industry, pussy-footing English butlers, amorous nursemaids, race touts, yearning young lovers, swanking soldiers, blank and vapid bores, bridge-playing parsons, and middle-class millionaires.

The blog also noted that the April 2010 issue of Vanity Fair carried a photograph of Hayley Bloomingdale, an American socialite, wearing a dress by designer Carolina Herrera portraying a print based on Fish’s drawings.

 

Joan Collins, Madonna and Kate Moss on magazine covers

December 22, 2014
Joan Collins talks about married life as a slave in the Daily Mail's Weekend supplement  - 30 August 2014

Joan Collins talks about married life as a slave in the Daily Mail’s Weekend supplement this year

When it comes to longevity as a magazine cover star, the prize has to go to the actress Joan Collins. I’ve identified her as far back as 1951 at the age of 18 on the cover of Tit-Bits and there can’t have been a year since when she hasn’t graced a magazine, from Picture Post, to Span, to Film Review, Woman, Playboy and OK! That’s 63 years a cover star.

But although she may not be showing her age – the Weekend supplement cover here is from August this year – Collins is getting on (she’s 81!), so who can rival her in future? Two names spring out –  Madonna and Kate Moss (far too early to consider Lady Gaga). So what are their chances of rivalling Joan Collins?

Madonna on the cover of Smash Hits back in February 1984

Madonna on the cover of Smash Hits back in February 1984

Joan Collins had a massive boost to her career with the role of Alexis in Dallas and such reworkings are vital to a long career. Madonna is back in the news at the moment over the ‘artistic rape’ she says she suffered because someone stole demo tapes from her new album. There’s no doubt the US-born singer and actress is a brilliant self-publicist. She has been recognised as the best-selling female record artist on record. Now 56, Madonna’s first Vogue cover was February 1989. Before that, she was a Smash Hits cover in 1984, when she was coming up to the age of 26. That’s 30 years as a cover star and, assuming she is still popular when she’s 81, another 25 years to go, total: 55 years of cover stardom.

Kate Moss in Corinne Day photograph on cover of the Face magazine in July 1990

Kate Moss in Corinne Day photograph on cover of the Face magazine in July 1990

Kate Moss turned 40 this year and marked it with a Playboy cover. Her modelling fortune was made by her appearance – as a scrawny 16-year-old – on a 1990 cover of style bible The Face shot by Corinne Day. Moss was the face of the Third Summer of Love (the others being 1967 and then the rave summer of 1988).

Starting at such an early age clearly gives Kate Moss an advantage. She has 24 years behind her and, assuming the 81 limit again, 41 years to go. Total: 65. That early start at 16 gives her a potential two-year edge on Joan Collins and a full decade on Madonna. Her first cover was on the Face, a relatively niche title, whereas Tit-Bits in 1951, the launch platform for Joan Collins, was probably selling a million copies a week. In contrast, Moss has been on a Vogue cover – frequently twice a year – just about every year since 1997, whereas Collins has never been on a Vogue cover.

On a personal level, Collins is on her fifth marriage – including Anthony Newley, one of the most gifted actors, singers and songwriters of his generation (Goldfinger title song, a dozen top 40 hits, roles in Dr Dolittle and Eastenders) – and has three children.

Madonna has been married twice – to Dead Man Walking actor Sean Penn and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels director Guy Ritchie – and has four children. Moss has been married just once and has a child from her relationship with Dazed magazine co-founder Jefferson Hack.

What remains to be seen, however, is whether Kate Moss, or Madonna, has the staying power and the ability to appeal to such a wide range of people as Joan Collins.

A Home Chat about ‘It’s a Long Way to Tipperary’

December 17, 2014
'It's a Long Way to Tipperary' is identified as the Tommies' favourite in this September 1914 article from Home Chat

‘It’s a Long Way to Tipperary’ is identified as the Tommies’ favourite in this September 1914 article from Home Chat

The first world war soldier’s song ‘It’s a Long Way to Tipperary’ has been much heard in the commemorations for the 1914-18 war. What’s a surprise to me is how quickly the song became established as the forces’ favourite.

This page is from the weekly women’s magazine Home Chat from September 19 – just weeks after the war had broken out. It’s already ‘The song our soldiers sing’.

Of course, the war changed the content and feel of magazines and the article here gives the music and words to the 1912 music hall song over three pages, with a credit to B Feldman & Co, of 2-3 Arthur Street, London WC.

The introduction contrasts the Tommies’ choice of marching song with the Germans’ choice of ‘Da Wacht am Rhein’ and ‘Deutschland, Deutschland uber Alles’ and the marching songs of the French ‘Piou-Piou’. The French ‘were mystified’ at the choice of a song that seemed ‘sad’ and held no reference to ‘flag or country, or war or military glory’. For ‘Tommy Atkins likes to swing along to a music-hall song with a good rousing chorus’ and ‘Tipperary’ comes out on top.

There’s no mention of Ivor Novello’s ‘Keep the Home Fires Burning’, which was written in 1914 and is referred to in several later Punch cartoons.

Home Chat cover from 19 September 1914 with a front cover story about supporting the Queen's Guild, which had been set up as a way for women to back the war effort

Home Chat cover from 19 September 1914 with a front cover story about supporting the Queen’s Guild, which had been set up as a way for women to back the war effort

Home Chat was printed and published in Farringdon Street, which runs across the eastern end of Fleet Street, on which the Tipperary pub is located.  But it was not aways called the Tipperary, or ‘the Tipp’ as regulars call it.

The pub was built on a site that was a monastery in 1300, on an island between the Thames and the Fleet rivers that fed into the Thames. The Fleet still runs under the pub. The Boar’s Head pub was built in 1605 and survived the Fire of London in 1666 because it was built of stone and brick. In  about 1700, the Dublin-based SG Mooney bought the pub, making it the first Irish pub outside Ireland and it was fitted out in an Irish style. It claims to be the first pub outside Ireland to stock bottled Guinness and later draught – and could also lay claim to being the narrowest in London.

In 1918, the printers who came back from the war had the pub’s name changed to The Tipperary, after their marching song. Today, the Boar’s Head is the name of the upstairs bar. The pub has been owned by Suffolk-based Abbott brewer Greene King since the 1960s.

Who is Woman cover illustrator Lovat?

November 21, 2014
Woman magazine from Odhams just three-and-a-half months before the outbreak of World War 2 with an illustration by 'Lovat'

Woman magazine from Odhams just three-and-a-half months before the outbreak of World War 2 with an illustration by ‘Lovat’

A classic cover here for a pre-war Woman magazine from Odhams – and, unusually for this title, the cover artists has signed the image, ‘Lovat’ (15 April 1939).

I immediately thought of Claud Lovat Fraser, who did illustrations for books and the theatre, but he died in 1921.

Woman had only launched in 1937, setting out to rival George Newnes’ Woman’s Own with its own colour gravure presses. At this time, Woman stuck to illustrated covers while Woman’s Own had used photography from its launch in 1932. The early Woman’s Own covers used a second or third spot colour but it ran photographic covers printed gravure that used spot colours in a very sophisticated way to given the impression of full-colour from as early was 1935. Ahead of the Woman launch, in early 1937 it started printing photographic colours in full colour.

Both magazines were printed in Watford, Herts, Odhams having built an Art Deco press hall there in 1937 after Sun Engraving had turned down a takeover. Sun was Britain’s biggest printer and Woman’s Own was one of its customers, along with Vogue and Picture Post to name but two. The Odhams plant is still there, though a big chunk of the site was sold off for an Asda store 25 years ago. Of the Sun plant, nothing is left but a clock!

So who was this Lovat? Any ideas?


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