Victorian Problem Page, 1870

This is The Young Ladies Journal from the 1st of February 1870:

It’s an early women’s magazine consisting of a very closely-typed few pages that includes fiction, puzzles and needlework patterns:

And (sexist) clips from other publications:

A little pop at Lydia Becker from “Fun” magazine, there. She was an inspirational early “suffragist” and I’d like to think that this perhaps goaded her on to change the title of her publication from “The Home” to the magazine she did go on to found in 1870 – the “Women’s Suffrage Journal”. At least, I can’t find any other reference to her “The Home” magazine anyway.

More information on this remarkable woman here –

But by far the most interesting section is its problem page, as is usually the way with magazines. The young ladies would write in about all manner of things that we can still identify strongly with now – love issues, of course, but also how to pronounce words, general knowledge, information on fashion and tips on how to stop blushing. And the Journal would answer all these questions, and throw in some critique of the senders handwriting to boot – “Your writing needs firmness”. I always enjoy seeing Victorian references to using Rimmel products. It really bridges the gap in time even though the actual products are very different.

The most intriguing aspect of this is that they didn’t print the questions, only the answers. Some of the things asked are obvious, others remain forever a mystery. But across 144 years, I still find myself concerned about the woman writing about what happens if you drink eau-de-cologne…

Some examples here:

And the full, small-print pages here:

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1 Response

  1. July 28, 2016

    […] this is my favourite bit. I’m an avid reader of the Victorian problem page, usually called “Correspondence“‘, and which draw a veil over the actual […]

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