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Celebrations planned to mark 150th anniversary of The People’s Friend

The magazine was first published on January 13, 1869.

The 150th anniversary edition of The People’s Friend (The People’s Friend/PA)
The 150th anniversary edition of The People’s Friend (The People’s Friend/PA)

The world’s longest running weekly women’s magazine will launch a year-long celebration to mark its 150th anniversary on Sunday.

First published on January 13, 1869 from Bank Street, Dundee, The People’s Friend now has a weekly readership of 400,000.

The magazine was initially designed as a publication offering something for the whole family, but it has evolved over the decades, shifting around the First World War to become a magazine for women, particularly younger housewives.

In the 1970s and 80s, the audience started to become a little older, reflecting the fact that younger women were working full-time, and the average reader is now aged in their late 60s.

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The first illustrated cover was introduced in 1946 and featured Edinburgh Castle (The People’s Friend/PA)

The DC Thomson publication is also a major publisher of magazine fiction, carrying around 600 short stories each year across the weekly magazine, the three weekly special and the annual.

Angela Gilchrist, editor-in-chief of The People’s Friend since 2007, said: “We’re proud to have maintained the founding values of the magazine. They are embedded into the ethos of the magazine – this is what The Friend is about and what it stands for.

“The famous founding statement which was in the first issue talks about ‘Nothing in the columns intended to corrupt the morals of young or old’, and that is very much the principle of the magazine. There will be nothing to upset or offend. The Friend is all about entertainment so people feel better for reading it, not saddened, upset or frightened in any way.

“I think that regardless of how up-to-date you are with what’s happening in the world around, there are moments when you just want to step back and have a bit of escapism, and that’s really what we offer.

“Reaching this milestone is amazing and is proof of the relationship we have with our readers. No other magazine can come close to this. And that more than anything is what has made it flourish for 150 years.”

To mark the anniversary, a symposium on The People’s Friend will take place in April at Glasgow’s Mitchell Library in conjunction with the University of Strathclyde, with a day of talks about the magazine’s place in publishing history.

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Editor Angela Gilchrist says the magazine has retained its founding values (The People’s Friend/PA)

In May, the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh will mount an exhibition of original cover art and run a series of events, while later that month The People’s Friend will host a readers’ weekend at Alvaston Hall, Crewe, to meet the team behind the magazine, hear about the history of the publication and take part in “Friend” activities.

Later in the year, a further series of talks will take place at the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh, and there are also plans for short story writing workshops during the anniversary year.

The magazine sells more than 170,000 copies a week with a readership of around 400,000.

As well as its UK readers, around 20,000 copies are exported each week to recipients as far afield as Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada.

Since illustrated covers were introduced in 1946, each one has been hand-drawn and signed J Campbell Kerr – an alias for many artists over the years.

The first illustrated cover was Edinburgh Castle and the artworks tend to be of British landscapes, with almost 4,000 being created over the years.

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