Timeline: a history of magazines

1586-1949 (this page) ; 1950-1969 ; 1970-1989 ; 1990-

Events in the history of magazines. Four pages list developments in technology, distribution and publishing strategy as well as the influence of periodicals on culture. Plus:

Also see the British Library's newspaper and magazine history pages. The library has a searchable catalogue of 52,000 newspaper and periodicals. The National Art Library at the V&A Museum's catalogue search.
1403 Manuscript writers and illuminators set up stalls or ‘stations’ around St Paul’s Cathedral. They are known as ‘stationers’ and establish the Stationers' Company. The area is the centre of England's printing industry, book trade, newspapers and magazines for the next half millennium. Today, Stationers’ Hall is near the cathedral in Ave Maria Lane
1450s Johann Gutenberg invents a printing system suitable for mass production of books using movable type, oil-based inks and a wooden screw press. The Bible is the first book he prints. Two copies of the Gutenberg Bible have been digitised and can be seen at the British Library website
1476 William Caxton establishes England’s first printing enterprise in Westminster. Caxton dies in 1491
1476 or 1481 Wynkyn de Worde becomes Caxton's journeyman. After the latter's death, de Worde takes over the business and in 1500 moves his printing press to Fleet Street. He later sets up a book stall in St Paul's cathedral churchyard. De Worde dies in 1534. His name lives on in the Wynkyn de Worde Society
1586 Josse Amman, a Swiss painter, publishes plates on the fashions of the day, with the title Gynasceum, sive Theatrum Mulierum ... (The Gynasceum or Theatre of Women, in which are reproduced by engraving the female costumes of all the nations of Europe). Published in Frankfort in Latin; regarded as the first fashion magazine
1666 The Great Fire consumes the City of London, including the old St Paul's Cathedral. The fire will have been fed by the stores of books, oil-based ink and paper in the cathedral's crypt and in the premises of publishers and printers in Paternoster Row and along Fleet Street
1693 The Ladies Mercury published by John Dunton, at first monthly and then fortnightly. It concerned 'All the nice and curious questions concerning love, marriage, behaviour, dress and humour in the female sex, whether virgins, wives or widows'. It also carried an 'Answers to Correspondents' section
1711 John Tipper publishes The Ladies Diary or Women's Almanack.
1725 The Ladies Diary runs small ads, among them for false teeth. Later issues ran display adverts for beauty products. Until this time, the term 'advertising' meant feature articles and reports
The Gentleman's Magazine is published by Edward Cave in England. Intended to entertain with essays, stories, poems and political commentary. Closed 1914. Often regarded as the first modern magazine. Some issues are available online at the Internet Library of Early Journals
Lloyd's List, the shipping trade title, founded
First US magazine, American Magazine
Ben Franklin's General Magazine prints first US magazine advertisements
Samuel Johnson's Dictionary credits Edward Cave with coining 'magazine' (a storehouse or arsenal) in its modern sense: 'Of late this word has signified a miscellaneous pamphlet, from a periodical miscellany named the Gentleman's Magazine, by Edward Cave'
German Alois Senefelder develops lithography to produce high-quality printed images
1797 Journal des Dames et des Modes produced in France as a series of plates every five days by Selléque, Mme Clément and Pierre Lamésangère until 1829. Lamésangère became rich and was compared with Alexander 'because his empire over the world of fashion was as wide as that of Alexander'
c1815 Records of Weekly Amusements for the Fair Sex runs a sales gimmick offering 'disconsolate damsels left lonely by the [Peninsula 1808-14] wars a matrimonial lottery of ten thousand officers, single men, handsome and vigorous' in a lottery with tickets at £5 each (Dancyger)
Modern Spectator founded
Railway Gazette founded
Fox Talbot produces photographs from negatives
Punch launched in London; inspired by French magazine Charivari
Herbert Ingram launches The Illustrated London News with 32 woodcuts on 16 pages. It cost 6d. ILN website

Establishment of UK national rail network boosts distribution
Economist founded to campaign for free trade
First WH Smith railway bookstall. The company had been founded in 1792 by Henry Walton Smith and his wife Anna in Little Grosvenor Street, London – as HW Smith. It reversed the initials in 1846 to become WH Smith & Son because Henry's son was William Henry – and his son had the same name!

Illustrated London News publisher Herbert Ingram starts a daily newspaper, The London Telegraph
Illustrated London News depicts the Christmas tree of Albert and Queen Victoria, so popularising an idea that had been seen as a Germanic import
Number of magazines published in US reaches 685
Mills in Germany begin producing wood pulp for paper making, replacing rag-based paper for newspaper and magazine printing
1853 The Field launched (now the oldest title in IPC's stable)
Illustrated London News published Christmas special with colour cover produced using coloured wood blocks. Selling 130,000 copies a week – 10 times the daily sale of The Times

Colored News is first paper to use colour: closes after a month
Great Moral History of Port Curtis, Australia's first comic
Atlantic Monthly in US begins to accept advertising
First colour photography

Illustrated London News selling 300,000 copies a week
Canadian Illustrated News launches with a half-tone on its cover – of Queen Victoria's youngest son, Price Arthur
Learning to read and write compulsory in Victorian England under free schools system
Charles Austin Bates establishes first advertising agency offering "creative services"
Newspapers start to print pictures (using halftone)
Scribner's Monthly appoints advertising manager (US)
$1m budget for advertising Lydia Pinkham's Pink Pills (US)
Hermann Vogel in Berlin produces colour using silver halide solutions, the basis of photographic process until the advent of digital cameras
The Goal: The Chronicle of Football launched
Funny Folks comic paper launched for adults (closed 1894)
UK Trade Marks Registration Act
Life in London uses halftones regularly, starting with a drawing of Lillie Langtry. These were made in Paris
Harper's Monthly accepts advertising

Tit-bits launched by George Newnes (also Football-Bits in 1919). Established model of rewriting material from many sources, using cheap newsprint and selling in volume. Spawned many imitators
Photos sent by wire

Cyrus H.K. Curtis launches Ladies' Home Journal  in the US, edited by his wife, Louisa Knapp Curtis
The Graphic publishes photo-picture story about a visit to a zoo

ILN uses better paper stock to reproduce paintings
Cosmopolitan launched in US as fiction magazine

First Berne Copyright Convention

Stranglehold of newspapers for national advertising demonstrated by papers such as The Times devoting up to 60% of their space to advertising, whereas ILN could only muster 20%. In US, because of absence of national newspapers, the position was the reverse
1887 Sherlock Holmes makes his first appearance in Beeton's Christmas Annual in Conan Doyle's 'A Study in Scarlet'
Cassell's launches The Woman's World with Oscar Wilde as editor (until 1889). The magazine closed in 1890

Hearst Corporation formed in US by William Randolph Hearst.
Alfred Harmsworth launches weekly Answers to Correspondents on Every Subject under the Sun to appeal to a new population of young readers. Follows Newnes Tit-bits model. He was later to found the Daily Mail and own The Times, and become Lord Northcliffe
National Geographic launched (US)
Answers to Correspondents on Every Subject under the Sun shortens its title to Answers. Launches competition to win £1 a week for life. Entrants had to guess the value of the gold and silver in the Bank of England. Entries had to be signed by five witnesses. Nearly three-quarters of a million postcards came in. Circulation soared towards half a million. However, prize competitions based solely on guessing were declared illegal the following year. Harmsworth responded by donating 250 guineas to the Balaclava Heroes Fund supporting veterans of the Charge of the Light Brigade
Photograph of Oxford and Cambridge boat crews used in Illustrated London News
4,400 magazines reach 18 million circulation in US

Arthur Pearson (a former employee of Newnes) launches Pearson's Weekly

Comic Cuts launched by Harmsworth (closed 1953). Heralds boom in comics aimed at adults
Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray published in Lippincott's Magazine (and as a book a year later)
Football clubs publish programmes and magazines
The Strand magazine launched as a monthly in UK and US by George Newnes. Based in Burleigh St, on the north side of the Strand opposite the Savoy. Magazine used super-calendered paper, wood engravings, photographic line blocks and half-tones. Colour covers in the US. Publishes Sherlock Holmes story, 'A Scandal in Bohemia' in July 1891 issue

International Copyright Convention
Four colour rotary press

Land and Water publishes colour halftone using three coloured inks

Ladies' Home Journal bans patent-medicine advertising (US)
Vogue founded by Arthur Turnure and Harry McVickar
1893 20,000 readers cancel their subscriptions to Strand Magazine when Sherlock Holmes is killed off in 'The Final Problem'. Conan Doyle relented only in 1902 bringing the detective hero back in 'The Adventure of the Empty House'

In US, Frank Munsey cuts price of Munsey's Magazine to 10c and the cost of subscriptions to $1 to boost sales and seek profits from advertising revenue rather than copy sales

McLure's Magazine launched by Samuel McLure achieves high sales using cheap cover price model (10c) and 'muckraking journalism'

The Engraver and Printer publishes colour halftone in US
Billboard Advertising launched in US; becomes Billboard in 1897
Harmsworth's stable includes Comic Cuts, Forget-Me-Not for Girls, Funny-Wonder and Home Sweet Home, The Halfpenny Marvel, Union Jack, Sunday Companion, Home Chat and Comic Home Journal

First issue of US magazine The Bookman
1896 Simplicissimus satire magazine founded in Germany (closed in 1944)
George Newnes Ltd incorporated on 5 August (to become part of IPC Magazines 70 years later). Edward Hudson founds Country Life as Country Life Illustrated
New York State passes law against misleading advertising

Ladies' Home Journal owner Cyrus H. Curtis buys Saturday Evening Post and relaunches it as an illustrated journal
Victorian intellectuals christen the decade the 'naughty nineties'
Pearson's Magazine publishes a separate US edition (until 1925)
1900 British magazines widely distributed around the empire and the US

C Arthur Pearson, founder of Pearson's Weekly and Pearson's Magazine launches Daily Express with news on the front page, rather than the usual classified advertising

Price of 'chemical' wood pulp $36 a tonne in US, down from $344 a tonne in 1866
Times Literary Supplement launched
Daily Mirror launched by Answers founder Alfred Harmsworth. It focused on women readers and was the first daily to be illustrated only with photographs
Optical Lantern and Kinematograph Journal launched

Puck launched by Harmsworth. First comic to use substantial amount of colour (closed 1940)
John Bull launched by Odhams. A penny weekly that was to become the UK's largest-selling magazine, boasting a circulation (very probably exaggerated) of 1,350,000 on its front cover in 1916. Although highly patriotic, it took an anti-establishment stance, championing grievances of troops in the first world war, even though this was illegal, under mercurial editor Horatio Bottomley
newspaper photographs transmitted by telegraph wire through cable under the Channel from Paris to London
Pearson's Royal magazine raises the bar for printing coloured photographs

Condé Nast buys Vogue, by then a struggling New York society weekly. Under editor Edna Woolman Chase it becomes a photo-fashion monthly for upmarket women
William Randolph Hearst buys Pall Mall and Nash in UK – first US publisher to operate internationally. Founds National Magazine Company

Cyrus Curtis, publisher of Ladies Home Journal in US, issues leather-bound book that lays down what kinds of advertising were acceptable in the magazine, to limit graphic intrusions of advertising. Alfred Harmsworth, proprietor of The Times and Daily Mail, laid down the laws for his titles
1911 Woman's Weekly launch: "our motto: practical and useful" (now IPC)

Rotogravure aids magazine production of photos

Photoplay launched in US, a movie fan magazine
Hearst buys Harper's Bazaar in US
Political weekly New Statesman founded by Sidney Webb
Liverpool-born journalist Arthur Wynne devises a 'word cross' for the New York World, based on a childhood game
Leica's first camera using 35mm film with a frame size of 24×36 mm (instead of 18×24mm for cinema). 2:3 aspect ratio
Rainbow is first British comic aimed at children. Some faltering adult comics refocus on children

American Audit Bureau of Circulations formed

Newnes takes over Pearson's titles

The Gentleman's Magazine ceases publication

Colour magazine, a glossy reproducing paintings with unrelated text of fiction, poems and reviews (closed 1924)

August 3: Britain declares war on Germany
Nast launches Vanity Fair
November 11: end of first world war. War Illustrated launches competition for readers to coin new name as war ends – became News Illustrated

Reader's Digest launched (US)

Under editor George Horace Lorimer, Saturday Evening Post publishes a 200-page issue, 111 pages being advertising. The publication was by this time selling a million copies a week with famous authors and Norman Rockwell's covers.
Daily Express carries Rupert Bear cartoon
Good Housekeeping launched by National Magazines, a subsidiary of US publisher Hearst

British Broadcasting Corporation formed as commercial radio broadcaster
Pearson's Magazine publishes first crossword in the UK, devised by Arthur Wynne (February)

Vogue publisher Condé Nast buys Vanity Fair and House & Garden to form Condé Nast Publications
The Radio Times launched. Christmas covers  in colour

Time launched in US by Henry Luce
Good Housekeeping Institute is founded
Sunday Express is first UK newspaper to publish a crossword (Nov 2)
Answers carries its first crossword
1925 Harold Ross launches The New Yorker, inspired by Punch and Simplicissimus
French title Vu devotes two-thirds of contents to photojournalism
Leica I (Leitz camera) with focal plane shutter launched and popularises 35mm format
The Melody Maker launched (closed 1990)
Amazing Stories launched by Luxembourg-born Hugo Gernsback, one of the pioneers of science fiction in the US. His name lives on in the annual Hugo awards. Amazing now published by Paizo

National Broadcasting Company founded in the US

British Broadcasting Corporation established as public service body, funded by licence fee paid by owners of radio sets
1927 Final Sherlock Holmes story,' Shoscombe Old Place', published in the April issue of the Strand Magazine
Baird beams TV image from UK to US
Shops Act 1928 classes the sale of newspapers, periodicals and magazines as one trade partly because of the difficulty in saying what the difference is between them

National Magazines goes into book publishing
1929 The BBC launches The Listener as a weekly review of radio programmes (closed 1991)

Harper's Bazaar launched in UK

Stock market crash in US causes many to lose fortunes
1930 The Times carries its first crossword; as does The Listener and Country Life (February 1)

Henry Luce launches Fortune business magazines with very high design and production values
Audit Bureau of Circulations established in UK covering national and regional papers

First colour photo in a British newspaper, The Times

Odhams, owner of best-selling magazine John Bull, and The People and Daily Herald newspapers, launches Woman's Own. Company is dominant force in UK magazines (now IPC). Woman's Own came with a free cover-mounted gift: three skeins of wool
Photo-based news magazines start to appear in the UK on the lines of the German titles: Pictorial Weekly; Weekly Illustrated (1934); Picture Post (1938)
Esquire launched in US
Radio Times overtakes John Bull as the biggest-selling magazine, with sales of 2m a week, a position it would hold until 1993
BBC launches the world's first regular television service from Alexandra Palace in London. The Radio Times runs a "Television Number" in London edition only

Incorporated Society of British Advertisers publishes 'The Readership of Newspapers and Periodicals' based on 80,000 interviews

Mickey Mouse Weekly printed in full-colour gravure

Henry Luce expands his stable with photojournalism weekly Life, so forming US group Time-Life that will become AOL-Time Warner

Billboard publishes US pop music chart
Nast mergers Vanity Fair with Vogue
Dandy comic launched by DC Thompson, ushering in a new style of drawing and a wealth of characters (still published)
Marie Claire launched in France by Jean Prouvost 1937

Odhams (now IPC) opens printing plant in Watford, Herts with Speedry Gravure Process for colour printing. Launches Woman weekly in June with low cover price, 2d, for a full-colour magazine. Within a year, the title was selling 500,000 copies a week

Saturday Evening Post selling 3 million copies a week, the largest circulation in the US

Radio Times drops The
Beano comic launched (still published)
Match launched by Jean Prouvost

US radio advertising revenue surpasses magazines
Picture Post launched in UK by Edward Hulton. First editor was Stefan Laurent. Print run of 750,000 copies reputed to have sold out before noon on the day of launch. Closed in 1957
Homes & Gardens runs an article on the delights of Hitler’s holiday chalet in Bavaria by author and photographer Ignatius Phayre, saying Mein Kampf had sold 4.5 million copies. The New York Times runs a similar piece in 1941 by C. Brooks Peters
September 3: war declared between Britain and Germany. Paper shortage forces closures; launches prohibited

Sales of Woman estimated at 750,000
Picture Post sales peak at 1,750,000

Condé Nast launches Glamour in US

NBC in the US makes experimental TV broadcast
1940 The Luftwaffe mounts its Blitz, focusing on the manufacturing cities such as Birmingham and Coventry and ports such as Liverpool and London. The area around St Paul's Cathedral and along Fleet St is devastated. Paternoster Row – the centre of the publishing trade – is flattened and the publishers never return to the area
1942 Amalgamated Press of the UK takes control of Condé Nast Publications after founder's death
Brendan Bracken, minister of information and confidant of Churchill, defends the printing in Britain of 16,000 copies of Die Zeitung, a weekly newspaper, in German in the midst of paper rationing. Bracken has been identified as a model for Big Brother in George Orwell's 1984 because of his running the censorship system. The pointing image of Big Brother referred to in the book and seen in the films is inspired by Alfred Leete's Lord Kitchener cover for London Opinion and the Great War recruiting posters based on it that Orwell saw as a boy
Supplies of red ink run out in UK
Spanish magazine Hola! launched
French close magazines, including Match and L'Illustration over collaboration; reappeared in 1949
End of second world war
Brendan Bracken merges the Financial News into the Financial Times
Elle launched in France
More than 200 mass-oriented magazines launched in US

Accordian Times and Musical Express launched; later to become Musical Express (1948), then New Musical Express (1952-)
Diese Woche (This Week) German language news magazine founded by British Control Commission for Germany; in 1947, this became Der Spiegel (The Mirror). In January 1962, Der Spiegel ran a mock-up of a front cover of Time showing the US title's founder Henry Luce on the front cover as its front cover
1947 US news weekly Time calls time on the British empire in an editorial ‘Much that is enviable’ (24 February):
Great empires, like old soldiers, never die; they just fade away. Britain's legacy, like Rome's, will cling for centuries to history's pages, shaping men and events. Yet to all empires comes a day of which it can be said: ‘At this point the sceptre had passed to other hands.’ That day came last week to Britain. Victory in two desperate wars had bled Britain white. For years both the wise and the merely smart had been pointing to signs of Britain's decline. The loosening bonds of empire, the ‘austerity’ (that dignified synonym for poverty); the defensive tension in foreign policy were old symptoms of what was happening. But it took the coal crisis to bring home to the world the fact that decline had reached the Empire's heart.
Sunday paper the News of the World sells 8 million copies
1949 Paris Match and L'Illustration relaunched

1586-1949 (this page) ; 1950-1969 ; 1970-1989 ; 1990-