During Queen Victoria's reign there was a flourishing market for women's magazines. The public's imagination was caught by the lavishly illustrated periodicals that offered a contant supply of thrilling serialised fiction, alongside features on fashion and home-making, and the latest sheet music to be played on the parlour piano or harp.
In 1852, Samuel and Isabella Beeton achieved great success with Beeton's Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine. Isabella provided recipes and articles on household management, but the magazine offered much more than that. Apart from the usual fashion and fiction there were biographical features, instruction on gardening and medicine, and a regular letters page. The magazine was initally priced at 2d, and by 1856 it boasted an advertising circulation of 50,000 copies.
Such inspired commercial success was followed in 1861 when the Beetons produced the society paper, The Queen - which continued to run until 1970.
Fashion plate from 'The Queen' circa 1890
The English Woman's Journal (1858-1864) was another paper that sought to educate its reader on politics, both at home and abroad. And, from 1892-1900, Shafts was a particularly radical magazine with articles on birth control by Marie Stopes, and reports that ranged from sporting achievements to news of the latest activities of the Independent Labour Party.