04 November 2011

We are going to need a hell of a lot of candles

Pioneering: Woman's Weekly was first published on November 4, 1911 - and cost just a pennyGet out the birthday candles everyone and grab yourself a party hat. Woman's Weekly celebrates its 100th birthday today. I hope they got a birthday card from the Queen, that's all I can say. While it may seem just one of those magazines that your mum and granny read, Women's Weekly used to be very popular with all ages.
 Its first issue was published on the 4th of November 1911 and went on sale for just a penny. It was a magazine for every woman out there,young and old and for every home, offering advice on everything from shifting excess pounds to fashion do's and don't 's for Christmas. I don't think it contained the Cabbage Soup Diet or 5 tips on how to lure a man. Still going strong Woman's Weekly goes on sale every Wednesday and sells over 360,000 copies per week. It says its 'the grown up woman's guide to modern living.'

I thought it would be interesting to see what the first issue contained compared to the 'What your man really wants', 'How to make Scallops with confit potatoes and a ginger and thyme veloute.' and 'Is it ok for a guy to wear eyeliner?' Give me my mum's amazing Hotpot and men in suits, spats and Fedora hats anyday. If I find a man like that I will actually propose to him on the spot.

Woman's Weekly have done a centenary edition and have included a copy of the first ever one. As soon as I heard this, I rushed down to the Tesco's up the road to buy it. It felt a bit weird not picking up Look, Glamour or Vogue. Let's just say I'm not really Women's Weekly's target audience am I. I decided to do the self checkout namely because I could either go to the scrummy guy and be looked at weirdly because I was buying a middle aged woman's magazine or the middle aged woman at the other checkout  who looks slightly scary and I was afraid she would say 'You can't have this magazine you're not middle aged' and run after me whacking me with it. I know I have a very exaggerated imagination sometimes.
I read the magazine that the 1st edition came in as well and I did actually enjoy it quite a lot. Does that read as sad as it sounds? I spent my Friday night in with my cat reading Women's Weekly and knitting whilst contemplating getting the magazine more often, due to some of the good cake recipes and sewing and knitting patterns. Yes Ladies and Gentleman, I know how to live.

The magazine consists of 36 pages on brown A5 paper. The first page has adverts on for Flannelettes, Neave's Food, an Elegant Camisole and some Books for Women starting with 'What a Young Wife Ought to Know' and ending with 'What a Woman of 45 ought to know.' They are not the usual glossy posey adverts I'm use to seeing in Vogue I'll tell you that much. The magazine starts wih a page illustrating everything a woman does with the logo 'A Woman's Work is Never Done.' Every week they illustrated the endless and countless task that a woman does. I don't think it would have included 'By a microwave meal' and 'Having a bikini wax and a fake tan' though. The next page is the Editor's letter. It explains the purpose of the magazine to please the average woman and help them with daily tasks and lives, as no ever magazine had done before. Quite funnily the editor quite strongly says that the magazine will not contain anything sordid and 'will not be dealing with the phases of life, which to put it mildly are not at all pleasing or nice to think about.' I don't think this is quite the magazine for you Kerry Katona.

I could so easily tell you about every page but a) I think I may bore you and b) A Sex and the City session is calling and I can't possibly be writing while Aidan is on the screen. To clarify that's when he gets back with Carrie, not when they met that long hair and that baggy denim shirt doesn't really do it for me. So I will entertain you with the highlights and key features of the magazine.

After a Lace Pattern, a tutorial on Crochet, Health Hints for Infants and a story there is a section on weight loss. The title is 'How long have you been putting it off?' The term for fighting the flab those days was the 'removal of over-fat'. The extra tyre that you got from all that chocolate cake you've been eating basically. The article began 'I wouldn't be as fat as so-and-so for the world! Is a remark which may be heard now and again from the lips of some person rejoicing in all the charms of graceful slenderness, a perfect oval of face, a delicate dainty chin and throat.' I gather they didn't pig out on a Chinese every night of the week then. 'To a woman of elegance and taste these enviable possessions are quite naturally a source of pride. But these gifts of beauty are not always lasting ones.' Its basically saying don't have that third piece of cheesecake and fourth glass of wine you were going to have because when you are lets say 'vintage' it will be a lot harder to shift those wobbly bits.  It strongly tells you not to starve yourself or 'mineral drugging' because it is unhealthy, dangerous and the weight will come back on and you will become 'your former stout self.' Say it how it is why don't you.

It talks about 'a splendid home treatment' called Antipon which is 'a discovery of the highest value'. It gives renewed tone to the whole system, clears it of waste matter that is carried by the blood' as well as many other things. Apparently there is no other way of stamping out obesity. Along with getting rid of that extra layer, it is very beneficial to the skin and complexion. Within a day and a night of the first dose the decrease of weight is something between 8oz and 3lb. I wonder if I can get some off eBay? 
It is said to contain 'vegetable ingredients of a quite harmless nature'.  Maybe I was wrong about the magazine not containing things like the Cabbage Soup Diet.

On the 'Pin Money Pages' housewives were encouraged to compare recipes for half a crown, the money by the way ,not what the Queen wears. This edition containted recipes for 'Rabbit Mould', 'Yorkshire Parkin' and 'Hot Breakfast Cakes' amongst others. It also contains tips and hints on Norfolk Dumplings. The tip was 'Serve with gravy as a first course before the meat, these are much liked by the young folks.' This was also before the time of getting a £1 kebab on a drunken friday night.

The magazine has a page on 'Blouse Blunders' which are still relevant today and is quite helpful. There is another story called 'The Blacks and Whites: Their Adventure of Boy and Girl Land.' Yeah I think I'll skip over that bit. The magazine had a 'Real Love Stories' section where one of the stories was by an anonymous reader which was about falling in love over a bath chair. Just to clarify this doesn't mean a chair over a bath it means a sort of wheelchair with a space to put your feet up. Ladies and Gentleman get ready to get your Kleenex out. "It was about 12 years ago and I had commenced to attend a mission hall in East London. I there became accquainted with a crippled lady who had to be wheeled about in a bath chair. Her attendant was a young lady of 17. That lady became my wife. It was a case of love at first sight. I was very much impressed by her open manner and simple heartedness and I think it was this that caused me-first of all unconsciously-to love her." That's lovely compared to today's usual 'I fell in love with her watermelons and rack.' They 'courted' for five years and at the time they had been married for six. That even melted the heart of me, the grumpy old love cynic.

When it comes to fashion there is a great section on Winter wear which is full of dresses that can be made at home. It shows some gorgeous long gowns, and when I say long I mean right down to the ankles long. I don't think we will be seeing any of the girls from The Only Way is Essex making them to wear. The pattern's can be bought for 6 1/2 d each. It has some great side columns about the Dress Do's and Dont's. Surprisingly it doesn't have 'Make sure you wear white knickers with a white dress' and 'Try not to let it all hang out'.
There is also an article about how to make a shirt blouse with the pattern that was free in the magazine. The shirt is fitted over the pleated shoulders with a slight point at the centre back and has a high neck, long arms and a scarf around it. No ladies this is not the blouse to make for a friday night out on the tiles.
Later on in the magazine there are little tips on how to make a Silk Hat Bag, A Home Made Cutlery Case, How to renovate and Old Cloth Dress and many other things.

Everyone listen up and put your chocolate digestives down. Throughout the rest of the magazine there are some figure boosting and health tips. There is an article called 'How I Enlarged My Bust.' It is about this woman who watched her bust grow in size, day by day and week after week, until she had a superb 'development' in a month's time.  Plastic Surgery wasn't around then (blimey Katie Price would have a panic attack) and chicken fillets were a part of a chicken. The lady had tried Massage, Cold Cream, Wooden Cups (Ok I have no idea how that works), Electricity (that's even weirder), Drugs and other methods but they had all failed. In the picture of the woman she has boobs to rival a page 3 Sun girl, cleverly drawn of course. Unlike the Sun she is not standing there in a skimpy bikini with stiletoes, fake tan, false nails and hair extensions. The woman has a long sleeved dress on that finishes at the top her bust and I mean right at the top. I was looking forward to hearing what her secret was, wondering whether to try it on my self but sadly we were left hanging and it was in the 3rd Magazine. What a hell of a good bit of marketing. Sorry ladies.
On another page there is a small section about spots on a face and gives a remedy for spot treatment. It tells you to go to your chemist to make up the prescription. It contains five grains of Calomel, for those of you that are not chemically minded it is a colourless white or brown tasteless compound. Thanks very much Answers.com It also contains one drachm of Sulphur and 1/2 a drachm of Oil of Cade. I think I'll stick to Clean & Clear Spot Treatment thanks.

There is a bit called 'Chats at the Dressing Table' which has some 'useful beauty tips.
-In the Winter it is vital to get outside and do some exercise. Not doing exercise in the winter will make all the organs not function properly, making the blood come impure and giving the complexion a muddy look. And you thought you should only go for a walk to check out your cute neighbour.
-The face should be washed immediately before you go out and whenever hot water is used it should be followed by luke warm water and then cold. It is good not to wash your face at all in the day, but use a thorough ablution at bedtime. But if you are like me and get food around your face and on your nose at least twice a day, what is a girl to do?
- To keep wrinkles away you should get into the habit of moving the hands upwards and outwards, instead of the usual up and down way while washing your face. This will keep the heaviest age lines at bay. Better tell that to Gordon Ramsay then.
- Don't rub your eyes, they frequently lose brightness and become tired and heavy looking because they are being used when they don't need to be. If sleep dust appears on the lashes during the night, do not rub it off. Instead bathe your eyes with boracic acid lotion prepared by a chemist. Chemist being the operative word.

There is a small section on health, giving you the cure for a 'Rupture' also known as a Hernia. The cure is called The Rice Method and has apparently cured every kind of hernia in all ages. Does that mean you get to eat more curry then?
There is also a bit called 'Is Your Heart Bad?' It gives you the apparent cure for heart symptoms and has apparently proved an almost infallible cure for Heart Disease and its many complications. I wonder if that includesa broken heart due to not being able to afford a pair of Chrisitan Louboutin's?

The magazine contained a column written by Mary Common about her giving the control of the grocery bill to her husband John, after he was shocked at the "two pounds and eighteen seven pence"that she spent. A bit like me and Mr.Boyfriend and his shock on how much I spend on shoes. I'm sorry but sometimes £4 pumps from Primark simply won't do. Mary said to her husband: ‘You wish me, I suppose, to cook your meals and make the beds, and dust and scrub and generally do the work of a servant, but you do not trust me to spend your money to the best advantage. I agree! Do the housekeeping yourself!’You go girl. The reader is then taken on a trip around the town with John as he tries and proves to his wife that you don't have to spend a lot. The reader is left with a cliffhanger as John stands in the butcher's and tries to decide what part of the pig to get. Exciting I know. This column was actually very popular and had women splitting their petticoats and popping out of their girdles. 

At the back of the magazine there is a section on Careers where Margaret Fox, Matron of London's Prince of Wales Hospital is interviewed over her career. Margret talks about how rewarding it is to help a ill person get better and she said 'there is no occupation in life so delirious as that of caring for the sick.' This was obviously before the 'career' of being a wag. 

The back of the last page has a very very simple advert for Bird's Custard. This is one of the things that I am very glad has stayed around for the past 100 years. It has been part of my childhood due to my Grandma's amazing five minute sponges and Apple Pie that we both devour in one sitting. She makes the thickest custard ever, you can stand a spoon up in it. She uses a whole pack for two people, compared to my mum's custard which makes us have to go through a pack of straws quite quickly.
So I'm glad Bird's Custard has lived on, as well as Women's Weekly, but Rabbit Mould and swallowing Vaseline for colds four times a day, I think I'll leave that in the past thanks.

Second Hand Rose


  1. Fascinating blog! "We're not going to deal with the phases of life"- how times have changed in magazine world. Not too sure I'd like the spot treatment either! X x x

  2. I absolutely love this blog post! You cracked me up! If it makes you feel any better, I did have a sneaky peak through both magazines after finding them strewn across my nan's dining table. It's absolutely fascinating how the magazine industry has changed, and how the thoughts/beauty tips of women have changed as well. I would love to go back to that time and be a lady for the day!

    Thanks so much for all your comments on my blog sweet! You made me smile, like a less attractive version of a cheshire cat. Also, check out your followers! It will keep on growing Missy, you are fantastic!


  3. Thanks for sharing, I found this very interesting! I don't actually read it myself but ofcourse my nana does!

    And thankyou so much on your comments about my daughter. I know its a little late but sometimes it takes me a while to get back to replying!

  4. oh wow, i didn't know woman's weekly recently turned 100! that is amazing! i remember my grandma and even my mom reading woman's weekly. :)

    <3, Mimi


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