Victorian Page 3, 1893

The Strand magazine was an iconic, long-running magazine which was such an institution in its day that when it finally ceased publication in 1950, the news was announced on the BBC by a newsreader supposedly wearing a black armband.

I have a number of bound early editions from the 1890s and what strikes me is that they’re not only still an interesting read, but also they have really set a lot of the tone still seen in subsequent magazines. There’s the very Victorian serial short stories (the Sherlock Holmes stories were famously first published here) but also a lot of true crime, “celebrities”, humour, amusingly shaped vegetables, and this, the “Beauties” series. Dreamy pictures of young ladies (and also “Beauties – Children”) for the readers perusal. Note the subtly androgynous nudey drawing on one page – a subliminal way of emphasising what a lot of the male readers may have been thinking, perhaps?

Madame Laura Schirmer-Mapleson rather stands out. I love her confident grin at the camera but she’s not the standard slightly ethereal young lady. However, she was something of a celebrity – she was an opera singer (as was Madame Sigrid Arnoldson). Although, sadly, she died of pneumonia the following year.

Incidentally, if you’re interesting in reading more, there’s a great resource to look up huge numbers of public domain issues of The Strand here – https://archive.org/details/TheStrandMagazineAnIllustratedMonthly

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