Timeline: a history of magazines

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

Important events in the history of magazines. Four pages list developments in technology, distribution and corporate strategy as well as the influence of periodicals on culture.

1950 Woman's Own celebrates the end of paper rationing for magazines (March 2) with a 48-page issue (wartime copies had been 20 or 24 pages). The advertising is a reminder, however, that some products were still rationed. A half-page advert includes the copy: 'The Bigger Size Mars is the most you can get in a chocolate bar for 2 points' and 5 pennies. The magazine claims 3,000,000 'old friends'. The front cover promoted the first part of the serialisation of The Little Princesses: The Story of the Queen's Childhood by her Nanny, Marion Crawford. 'Crawfie' had been nanny to Elizabeth and Margaret for 17 years, but the book scandalised the royal family and they never spoke to her again. Crawfie's writing career came to an ignominious end five years later when a column she put her name to in the magazine was published describing events as if they had happened, when in fact they were cancelled because of a transport strike. Writers Monica Dickens and Beverley Dickens are promoted alongside Gypsy Petulengro's horoscopes in the 'Between Friends' editorial letter.
Radio Times selling more than 8m copies a week – the largest audited circulation in the world
Eagle comic uses colour gravure on quality paper with excellent illustrators, characters – Dan Dare being the best-known – and stories. Opens up gender split in UK comics. Closes 1969. Relaunched 1982 by IPC, but success short-lived and closes again

Strand Magazine, famous for first publishing most of the Sherlock Holmes stories, closed by George Newnes. The Economist criticised the closure:

'A publishing house is a business enterprise whose projects must be financially sound, but it is also a trustee of the affections of the reading public, in Britain and overseas, and of that public's standards of taste. It is sad that George Newnes Ltd should have decided that of the three pocket monthly magazines which they publish, they should dispense with the Strand and concentrate on the publication of London Opinion and Men Only.'
('The end of the Strand,' December 17, p1342).

The name was reborn as a magazine based around the irascible detective in December 1998

Publisher Edward Hulton sacks Picture Post editor Tom Hopkinson. Circulation falls below a million, to 935,829

Rationing ends in Britain

Hulton Press admits to 'heavy losses' on Picture Post. Price cut to 4d (from 6d) to match Illustrated. Sales rise to just over a million
Anne Scott-James's book In the Mink published (Michael Joseph). Her former role as editor of Harper's Bazaar (1945-51) gave her the material for a satire set in the offices of a glossy fashion magazine. Sunday Times critic Harold Hobson found it 'shocking and disgraceful'
1953 TV Guide launched in US. Distributed in 10 cities with a circulation of 1,560,000
Hugh Hefner's Playboy launched (50c). Marilyn Monroe on the cover and in the famous nude calendar shot inside (US)
New Musical Express publishes first official UK record chart
EMAP launches a national weekly, Angling Times
J. Lyons & Co installs LEO, world's first commercial computer
1954 The Record Mirror launched as tabloid weekly (closes 1991)
Sales of Woman exceed 3 million a week for Odhams. John Bull and Illustrated both selling 1 million copies; Ideal Home 200,000-plus a month.
Sports Illustrated launched by Time Life in US
1955 Independent Television commercial network starts broadcasting (22 September) in London; shows first TV advertisement – for Gibbs SR toothpaste. Lew Grade’s ATV (had been ABC, Associated Broadcasting). TV Times launched by broadcasting companies (22 Sep – 1 Oct issue). Cover images of Patricia Dainton from Sixpenny Corner and I Love Lucy star Lucille Ball framed by TV screen shape. Printed letterpress on callendered newsprint with spot magenta on cover
Radio Times takes out page advertising in the Economist to announce sales of 8,832,579 copies – 'the largest sale of any weekly magazine in the world'. Comparison with Life in the US – sales of 5.6m (Sept 10, p821)
She launched
1956 EMAP launches second consumer specialist weekly, Motor Cycle News
New Scientist launches
1957 Hultton Press closes Picture Post
1958 Daily Mirror group buys Amalgamated Press – start of a consolidation process that was to result in the creation of IPC and its merger with Reed in the 1960s
Publications Filipacchi formed in France when Daniel Filipacchi buys Jazz, launched in 1954

The Economist reported on the comics industry ('No laughing matter', 15 Nov 1958, p578-9). It gave approx 1957 total sales as 11 million, including:

DC Thomson:
Beano: 1m
Dandy: 1m
Wizard, Hotspur, Rover, Adventure: 1m (combined)

Eagle: 750,000
Girl: 650,000
Swift, Robin 500,000 (combined)

Schoolfriend 762,000
Lion 346,000
Tiger 297,000
Girls' Crystal 343,000
Sun, Comet 305,000 (combined)
TV Fun 250,000
Film Fun, Radio Fun, Knockout 900,000 (combined)

Other titles, including Tiny Tots, Playhour, Jack and Jill, EXpress Weekly, TV Comic, Zip, Mickey Mouse, Beezer, Topper, Marilyn, Valentine, Romeo and Bunty sold about 3m

1958 Claudia Jones, a black journalist and leading light of the Notting Hill carnival is founding editor of The West Indian Gazette, the first black British weekly newspaper
1959 Odhams Press buys Hulton Press (Farmer's Weekly, Housewife and Lilliput; and the comics Eagle, Girl, Swift and Robin)
national printing strike, June to August. An estimated 3 million working days lost and many newspapers and magazines were either cut down in pagination or failed to appear. Mark Dunton podcast on Boulting Brothers 1959 film I'm All Right Jack!, in which blunders cause a nationwide strike
Amalgamated Press sells Condé Nast Publications to Samuel Newhouse to add to his Advance newspaper empire
Clive Labovitch and Michael Heseltine buy Man About Town; relaunched as About Town and later Town
Twen launched by Willy Fleckhaus in Germany (closed 1970)
Saturday Evening Post circulation peaks at 6.2 million in US
Offset litho printer Purnell and Italian publisher Fabbri of Milan launch Knowledge, a weekly colour encyclopedia – the first partwork since before the war. It sold 300,000 copies
1960- TV Times switches printing to gravure at Sun Printers in Watford, Herts
Audit Bureau of Circulations expands to cover magazines
1961 43-year-old Denis Hamilton appointed editor of the Sunday Times by new owner Roy Thomson. This was not long after the paper announced it was developing a Sunday colour supplement. The paper's sales at the time were about 1m copies; the Sunday Express sold 4.5m and the Sunday Telegraph 700,000
The film The Day the Earth Caught Fire featured Arthur Christiansen playing the role of Daily Express editor – a job that he did for 25 years. Owner of the paper Lord Beaverbrook was reported in Topic (11 Nov) as asking to see the film and remarking: 'Wonderful. If you had taken up acting instead of editing, you would be another Cary Grant by now.' Scenes from the film were shot in the famous art deco Express building in Fleet Street
25 Nov. Topic reports that its features editor Hugh Graham became the first 'Fleet Street man' to win the national diploma of the National Council for the Training of Journalists
2 Dec. Scotland Yard reported to be furious about Fleet St reporters listening in on the police VHF radio waveband (Topic Dec 2)
Fleet Street's most travelled reporter was the Daily Mail's Jeffrey Blyth with 92,000 miles in 11 months, including 28 capitals
Outrage in the New Daily and Sunday Express over the Spectator (under editor Brian Inglis) publishing 'An Ever-Fixed Mark', a poem with a homosexual theme, by Kingsley Amis, author of Lucky Jim. This was at a time when worlds such as adultery, rape and abortion were only just starting to appear in national newspapers; until a year before, reported Topic, they would have been changed to 'misconduct', 'a certain offence' and 'illegal operation'. A prostitute was a 'street woman'. Around the same time, the Daily Mirror tried to move upmarket and capture 'a bigger share of more literate youngsters' by removing 'pretty girl' pictures, and banning expressions such as 'slick chick' and 'beach peach'. It also introduced a World Spotlight feature with items reporting, explaining and interpreting the news
Private Eye launched with Christopher Booker as editor and designed by Willie Rushton. Richard Ingrams took over as editor near the end of the first year. Backers included satirist Peter Cook. The launch of the magazine was sparked by Peter Usborne learning of offset lithography, a printing process whereby artwork could be prepared using a typewriter and Letraset, rather than the prohibitively expensive hot metal typesetting. The magazine still aspires to that amateur look. The magazine's mascot, of a downtrodden Crusader with a bent sword, is called 'Gnitty'. In July 1962, Topic reported that a new magazine, Scene, was about to be launched 'by the young men who have had a considerable success with Private Eye'. A letter to the Times also revealed that Man About Town had approached Private Eye to take over the glossy men's monthly's news section
Penelope Gilliat of Queen took a swipe at William Hickey of the Daily Express and Paul Tanfield of the Daily Mail, which resulted in the columns being cleaned up, reported Topic
1962 The Bolton Evening News is the first UK paper to print colour advertising. The pages were produced by Martlet Press in London

Sunday Times Magazine supplement launched by Mark Boxer (Feb 4) as Sunday Times Colour Section. The magazine was printed by Odhams' Sun Printers and inserted separately by newsagents. A colour page was priced at £2,700, compared with £1,800 for monotone. The launch was controversial:

  • Roy Thomson appointed the husband of the Queen's sister (Princess Margaret), Earl of Snowdon (Antony Armstrong-Jones) as a photographic and design adviser. His salary was reported at between £5,000 and £10,000;
  • the National Union of Journalists demanded that he join the union if he was to take pictures;
  • newsagents demanded payment for inserting the magazines; they were concerned not only about the extra time needed but also the extra weight for delivery boys to carry – this resulted in a extra 3d a month delivery charge , which caused some readers to cancel their deliveries, Topic reported

In a television interview, Thomson admitted to being disappointed with the first issue. The next two were considered 'a crashing bore' by Topic. The supplement was estimated to be costing £5,000 a week, but Thomson was said to be prepared to spend £1m to establish the section.

In April, Thomson announced that the paper's circulation by increased by 127,000 copies to 1,094,000. However, some advertising had been lost. Cecil King, head of Odhams, said the supplement was losing £16,000 a week, though that was all right for his group, because they were being paid to print it.

Editor Mark Boxer told a group of students (Topic 21 April) he only had seven weeks to produce the first issue and that 'I am amazed by its success'. He wanted to change the name to Sunday Times Colour Magazine but was not allowed to because this might be a interpreted as a sign of losing confidence and also because they were not allowed to publish a magazine on a Sunday (who prevented him not clear). The company did not expect to break even for a year. 'The supplement,' he added gloomily, 'is still not being taken seriously. It is like the toy in the cornflake packet.'

In July, the Sunday Times was selling 1,110,457 copies, a rise of 143,397 on the previous half-year. The Observer had also put on sales, 6,694 to 721,932. By August, reports were saying that the section would break even in the autumn

Sales of the Daily Mail, which had recently taken over the News Chronicle, were 2,568,032 in February 1962
Former Daily Express editor Arthur Christiansen quoted by a US news agency as saying that Cecil Harmsworth King, chief of the Daily Mirror newspaper and magazine empire, told him that unless the Mirror went up by 1/2d to 3d, he would be making more money from the tissues one of his subsidiaries made than from the newspaper
German Roman Catholic newspaper Landeszeitung retouched a picture of Italian actress Claudia Cardinale meeting the Queen by adding a top to her décolleté dress. The paper said people introduced to the Queen should be decently dressed
Nicholas Tomalin quits as editor of the Londoner's Diary in the Evening Standard to take the helm at Cornmarket's men's glossy About Town
February. Olympia magazine published by Maurice Girodias to challenge English and US attitudes to censorship. He had earned notoriety as the first publisher of 'pornographic' literature such as Lolita and Henry Miller's Tropic books. Topic described it as 'a dull publication' that was unlikely to stir a reaction from the customs authorities. Contents included a suppressed chapter from J.P. Donleavy's The Ginger Man about indecent exposure in a train; excerpts from The Soft Machine by William Burroughs (whose Naked Lunch was still banned in the US and Britain); pictures of tramps in Paris; and an academic article on chastity belts.

Edward ('Pick') Pickering, the Daily Express editor, relaunched Farming Express as a colour magazine and was appointed managing director of publications. He had been sent to North American to study colour printing by Beaverbrook the year before

The Guardian's move to London results in the paper gaining sales to 160,000 to overtake the Times (253,000). Its advertising page rate was a modest £800 compared with £1,500 for the Times. The biggest selling US paper was the Daily News in New York (1.9m)
Women's Mirror (6d) runs a cover line 'The first ten years by HM the Queen.' The feature was advertised by King-Cudlipp sister paper the Sunday Pictorial. It turned out to be a spread of pictures and quotes from the Queen over the period. Topic described it as: 'about as tasteless a piece of promotion as journalism has seen for a long time'.
14 gynaecologists complained to the Press Council that an article in Jocelyn Stevens' glossy fashion weekly Queen had embarrassed them professionally
March. Number of newspapers in UK and Eire reported at 1,450 (10 fewer than a year before); number of magazines 3,997 (up from 3,851)
Prince Philip cements his outspoken reputation by telling a Daily Express reporter in Rio de Janeiro: 'The Daily Express is a bloody awful newspaper. It is full of lies, scandal and imagination. It is a vicious paper.' The Express responded with a Giles cartoon of owner Lord Beaverbrook being marched in chains to the Tower of London by Beefeaters. The caption read: 'The Express is a bloody awful newspaper,' said the Duke. 'Ah well,' said Lord B. as they trotted him off to the Tower, 'at least he takes it or he wouldn't know it was a bloody awful newspaper.' A few weeks later (April 7) Topic reported that the Queen had requested the original from Giles, as a 'memento,' said the Queen's press secretary 'of his most glorious indiscretion'.
Sales of Women's Own (George Newnes) at 3m with 120 staff. Serialisation of the memoirs of Marion Crawford, 'Crawfie', governess to the Queen and Princess Margaret as girls, had been a great success. Crawford's unauthorised reminiscences were also published in the Ladies' Home Journal in the US. Her name appeared on 'Crawfie's Column', a social diary written by journalists, in Woman's Own. The royal family cut her off and never spoke to her again, even though the columns and her book, The Little Princesses, greatly increased the Queen's popularity in the US
The Observer sponsors an expedition to track down the Loch Ness Monster
First issue of Gay News
Filipacchi and Frank Tenot launch Salut Les Copains – based on Filipacchi's radio show of the same name, in which he played a mix of British, US and French rock. The success of this was the foundation of the company
Odhams Press (based in Long Acre, London) under Cecil Harmsworth King, produces 21 newspapers (12 overseas), 200 magazines and 20m books a year. The Daily Mirror publisher admitted to losses of £500,000 a year on the Daily Herald. In May 1961, he had pledged to run it for seven years to try to turn it into a money-spinner
Topic reported that Paris Match, Elle and Marie Claire were all planning English editions in anticipation of Britain joining the Common Market
Topic (July 21) reports on publishers' involvement with television. Roy Thomson owns 80% of Scottish TV; the Mirror group owns 26.8% of ATV; the Westminster Press has 6.7% and the Birmingham Post 5% of ATV; Associated Newspapers have 37.5% and D.C. Thomson 25% of Southern TV; the News of the World (25%) and the Liverpool Daily Post (14.5%) have chunks of Television Wales and West ; the Guardian (21%) and Daily News Ltd each about 21% of Anglia.
Newspaper circulations. The People (Odhams) 5,543,535; News of the World, 6,644,501, claimed to be the world's highest; Sunday Express, 4,398,093; Sunday Telegraph 682,693; Sunday Pictorial 5,242,000
London Evening Standard floods the capital with matchboxes printed in black and yellow saying: 'For more news, read the London Evening News'
(August) The Daily Express prints a front-page picture of Princess Margaret water-skiing in a bathing suit. The freelance photographer was reportedly paid £500 and the picture was probably taken at the Aquadrome in Rickmansworth
1963 Newnes, Fleetway (formerly Amalgamated Press) and Odhams Press merged as part of International Publishing Corporation (IPC)
Under pressure from falling sales and advertising revenue as television grows in popularity in the US, the December issue of Saturday Evening Post carries its last painted cover, by Norman Rockwell
Filipacchi launches Luis as a French Playboy

The New York Times in the US begins printing copies in California

1964 Look-In launched as junior TV Times (closes 1984)
Innovative weekly Nova launched by IPC
Daily Telegraph Magazine launched (on Thursdays)
1965 First novel typeset by a computer, Margaret Drabble's The Millstone. Publisher Weidenfeld & Nicholson. Work done by Rocappi Ltd, a company led by US computer-typesetting pioneer John Seybold
Resurgence of men's magazines in UK, with launch of King and Penthouse joining Town, Esquire and Playboy, and Vogue starting 'Men in Vogue' section
Nova launch in March 1965 by Newnes/IPC. Initially with Harry Fieldhouse as editor, but Dennis Hackett took over after six months (from editorship at Jocelyn Stevens' Queen) to create a groundbreaking magazine. Design by Harri Peccinotti. Peter Crookston from Sunday Times Magazine took over in 1969 with David Hillman. Closes 1975
IPC sells Today (formerly John Bull)
Cigarette advertising banned on UK television
TV21 comic launched based on Gerry Anderson puppet series – Fireball XL5, Stingray, Captain Scarlet, Thunderbirds – and US programmes. Tabloid format and high quality artwork outshine even the Eagle. Closes in mid-1970s after series of mergers
1966 Haymarket, the British Institute of Management, the Financial Times and the Economist launch Management Today with Robert Heller, who had livened up business reporting at the Observer by focusing on personalities, as editor
1967 Launches of Rolling Stone and New York Magazine in US. Former started as fanzine inspired by Jagger's band (seen on cover 19 times)
1968 Black American model and Hair musical star Marsha Hunt on Christmas cover of Queen magazine
1969 Three largest magazine publishing houses (Associated-Iliffe Press, George Newnes and Odhams Press) merge to become IPC Magazines Ltd, as part of International Publishing Corporation Ltd, owner of the Daily Mirror, People and Sun newspapers
Andy Warhol's Interview launched with 10.5x16in format
Rupert Murdoch buys News of the World
Saturday Evening Post closes, victim of the success of TV in the US
Mike Molloy launches Daily Mirror colour supplement

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