Keeping “The People’s Friend” Reader At The Heart

Shutterstock / Monkey Business Images © Woman relaxing and reading a magazine

A few weeks ago, Manon and I visited the Archives. We were blown away by the history – over a hundred and fifty years at our fingertips.

Something that interested me is how much “The People’s Friend” has actually changed over the years.

The core of the magazine has never wavered

The “Friend” is steady and reliable – a rock for people to lean on. But even rocks change, very subtly, over time due to their environment.

The core of the magazine, that cluster of sparkling crystals hidden inside the rock, has never wavered.

“We intend that fully one half of the “Friend” shall be devoted to fiction . . . the “Friend” being intended for fireside reading, nothing will be admitted into its columns having the slightest tendency to corrupt the morals either of old or young.” This was the promise set out by the original team.

But the magazine keeps going because our readers’ tastes and needs shape it through the years.


When the magazine first launched, the stories were much different to the stories we print today. Not just in terms of language, but in genre and purpose.

There were adventure stories, for example. If you’ve ever listened to our podcast, then you’ll have heard a few of these swashbuckling tales!

Our first ever episode was about a story called ‘A Night Among Robbers: An American Adventure’.

It’s the kind of story that would be completely out of place to our readers today, but it must have been on brand when it was published in 1871!

During the episode, Archive Manager David explained:

“At this point, The People’s Friend is three years old [ . . . ] and it is aimed at the family and the whole family is supposed to be able to enjoy it. And I wondered if this was something that was maybe for a member of the family to read out to the kids by the fireplace.”

“The People’s Friend” reader is at the heart of the magazine

When we put together the magazine, we always keep the “The People’s Friend” reader at the forefront of our minds.

Some of our readers have been picking up the magazine regularly since they were children. While some readers have only just discovered us.

It’s important to us that, whether regular or new to us, they know they can count on us to provide entertaining stories week on week that will leave them feeling uplifted.

Every issue is a small break from the world – a breath of fresh air.


Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.