29/09/2017

VICTORIAN WOMEN'S MAGAZINES...



During the Victorian era there was a flourishing market for all manner of women's magazines. The public's imagination was caught by lavishly illustrated periodicals that offered a more or less constant supply of thrilling, serialised fiction, alongside more practical features on fashion and home-making, even the latest sheet music to be played on the parlour piano.




In 1852, the husband and wife team of Samuel and Isabella Beeton achieved great success with their own creation of Beeton's Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine. 

For this, Isabella provided recipes and articles that covered household management. However, the magazine offered a great deal more than that, for apart from the usual fashion and fiction there were biographical features, instruction on gardening and medicine, and also a regular letters page. 

Initially priced at 2d a copy, by 1856 the magazine boasted a circulation of 50,000 copies.




Such commercial success inspired the couple to think of other formats. In 1861, they produced the society newspaper with the title of The Queen ~ another success that continued to run until the year of 1970.



Fashion plate from 'The Queen' circa 1890


The first edition of The Queen cost 6d, and that contained a specially-commissioned photograph of Queen Victoria. The paper also specialised in the latest Parisian fashions, providing paper patterns and directions for elaborate needlework. And, although it may not have gone as far as publications such as The Female's Friend  (a short-lived magazine with the worthy aim of campaigning against the scourge of prostitution), it did not shy away from offering its readers intelligent debate on politics and the place of women in society.


The English Woman's Journal (1858-1864) was another paper that sought to educate its readers on politics, at home and abroad. And then, from 1892-1900, Shafts was a radical magazine with features on birth control contributed by Marie Stopes, as well as other articles that ranged from the reporting of sporting achievements to news of the latest activities of the Independent Labour Party.



8 comments:

  1. I happened across your blog today and I'm enjoying every post! This one, in particular, will be particularly useful as part of an "everyday" scene in my current WIP. Thank you!

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  2. Stephanie - I'm so glad you've found it useful. Thanks for letting me know!

    Essie

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  3. I really enjoyed this too, thank you
    Amy

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  4. I wish British magazines and newspapers were better archived online. So far we're still pretty limited in how much we can actually sit down and read. Tracking down physical copies can be a pretty daunting task, especially if one does not live in the UK.

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  5. This is true, Walter - it was very hard to find anything - and such a fascinating subject. If you ever are in UK, the British Library is a great resource.

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  6. The English Woman's Journal (1858-1864) was very gutsy, trying to educate its readers on politics. Abroad yes, but at home as well? The editors could have ended up in gaol.

    Shafts took even great risks! Features on birth control by Marie Stopes were desperately needed but not very popular with the authorities, I am guessing.

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