As with many other areas of economic activity, women’s magazines developed rapidly through the 1800s, reflecting both marketing developments and social changes. As the century progressed, publications aimed at women changed from the middle-class drawing-room journals of the 1830s and 1840s to the cheaper, chattier, more domestic magazines of the 1880s and 1890s.
The Ladies’ Companion: An illustrated monthly magazine of the fashions, interesting facts and select fiction was halfway along this process. It had been published since 1850 by Bradbury and Evans, but in 1871 was being produced by Berger, with the same mix of gossip, short stories and enticing illustrations of the latest clothing styles.
This was an eventful time for fashion. The sewing machine, the rise of Parisian couture and new dyeing technology had enabled the manufacture of affordable, stylish clothes in eye-catching colours such as mauve or purple. Given the corseted waists with huge full skirts of the time, the effect was dramatic, as the drawings in the magazine demonstrate.
Priced at a shilling – the cost of six pints of beer – the well-illustrated Ladies’ Companion looked increasingly a luxury product. Cheaper, chattier women’s-interest publications, priced at a penny – one-twelfth of a shilling – were to dominate the market.
- Full title:
- The Ladies Companion. An illustrated monthly magazine of the fashions, interesting facts and select fiction. March 1871.
- March 1871, London
- Periodical / Print / Image
- The Ladies' Companion
- Usage terms
- Public Domain
- Held by
- British Library
- Article by:
- Kathryn Hughes
- Gender and sexuality
From marriage and sexuality to education and rights, Professor Kathryn Hughes looks at attitudes towards gender in 19th-century Britain.