Monday, 25 April 2011

Woman's Home Pictorial Companion

I have been collating a lot of Knitting and Crochet Guild material at Lee Mills that comes from magazines of  the 1930s and early 40s - complete issues, knitting booklets, pull-out supplements and torn-out knitting patterns.  There were a few magazines published from the 1930s that focussed on knitting and similar crafts - notably Vogue Knitting Book and Stitchcraft.  But currently I am working on material from general women's magazines. I have been referring to a really useful book from the Lee Mills library, The Business of Women's Magazines, by Brian Braithwaite and Joan Barrell, that gives a brief publishing history of most of the titles I have seen.   The daddy (mummy?) of them all is People's Friend, which was first published in 1869 and has appeared every week since then. Several other titles that were current in the 1930s also appeared first in the late 19th century or before World War I, but the thirties also saw a lot of new women's magazines.


There is an astonishing number of titles represented in the papers I have been sorting.  Some are familiar because they are still being published - Woman's Weekly, Woman, Woman's Own, Woman and Home, My Weekly, Good Housekeeping, The Lady, as well as People's Friend.
But many more have disappeared (usually merged into another magazine).  And they all sound pretty much the same:  Mother, Housewife, Wife and Home, My Home, Home Notes, Home Chat, Home Companion, Woman's Companion, Woman's Pictorial, Woman's Sphere, Woman's Friend, Woman's Way, Woman's World,  Modern Woman.  (You feel that you could easily invent endless plausible new titles:  My Friendly Home, Housewife's World, ....)

There must have been an enormous volume of knitting patterns being produced for all these titles.  Some of the jumpers I have seen are quite attractive, but perhaps the more boring patterns tended not to be kept and so are not in the collection.  And there does seem to be an extraordinary number of patterns for swimsuits, which I don't find attractive at all.  The very idea of a knitted woollen swimsuit is just appalling.

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