Friday, 4 November 2011
Woman's Weekly Centenary
It is the centenary of Woman's Weekly magazine this month (in fact, this very day) and a special centenary issue is on sale now, with a .reproduction of the first issue from 1911 - a splendid idea. It is fascinating to see what concerned women in 1911 - there are features on "Removal of Over-Fat" and "How I enlarged my bust", as well as less alarming articles on fashions and "How to become a nurse".
Woman's Weekly is surprisingly successful. In the 1980s, it was the best-selling weekly magazine for women in the U.K., with a circulation of 1.3 million in 1987. Since then, the woman’s magazine market has contracted, and changed radically. Now, the top-selling weekly magazines are ‘celebrity’ and ‘reality’ titles, but Woman’s Weekly is still the best-selling of the more traditional woman’s magazines, with a circulation of almost 340,000 in the first half of this year.
I always thought Woman's Weekly rather old-fashioned - I associate it with my Grandma who read it regularly when I was a little girl. But I have bought several copies in recent months to research an article on the centenary for Slipknot, the journal of the Knitting and Crochet Guild, and I must say that I found them quite interesting. The magazine's target market is older women whose children have left home, and the editors have been very clever in focussing on that market while at the same time adapting to the changing tastes of each successive generation of women. Evidently, I am now old enough to find Woman's Weekly relevant to me.
The first issue included crochet patterns and a crochet tutorial for beginners, but nothing on knitting. But by the late 1920s, as far as I can tell from the issues from that era in the Knitting and Crochet Guild collection, knitting was a regular feature. And in the 1970s, the front cover proclaimed "Famed for its knitting". While several other long-established women’s magazines (for instance Woman and Woman's Own) no longer cover knitting regularly, Woman’s Weekly still publishes a knitting pattern every week, often by a well-known designer such as Sasha Kagan or Marion Foale. With a circulation of 340,000, that's a lot of knitting patterns.
Happy Birthday, Woman's Weekly!