Our 8,000th Issue!

Allison Hay © Our 8000th issue

“The People’s Friend”, is celebrating a very special anniversary on October 18, 2023 – our 8000th issue!

While so much has changed since the first issue of “The People’s Friend” was published on January 13, 1869, what has remained constant is the friendship and loyalty between our publication and you, our wonderful readers.

It’s an honour to mark this astonishing 8,000th issue milestone in an extended 96-page issue available from October 18-24.

Recognised as the longest-running women’s weekly magazine, you’ll be surprised at the momentous events and anniversaries that have taken place around the world since “The Friend” was first launched. Since 1869, the magazine has witnessed social upheaval and amazing inventions, seen monarchs come and go, men set foot on the moon and women gain the vote – but it has never lost its instinct for what its readers want from their magazine.

Click on the interactive timeline below for some fascinating facts…

Interactive timeline of events since “The Friend” was launch in 1869…

Celebrating Our History

A selection of PF covers

From its launch in 1869 to the 8,000th issue in October 2023, it’s been quite a journey!

  • With Queen Victoria on the throne, and Prime Minister William Gladstone in No. 10, Downing Street, a publishing revolution was underway in the Scottish city of Dundee. This culminated in the launch of “The People’s Friend”  on January 13, 1869.
  • The first issue was produced from an office in Bank Street, Dundee, and comprised just 16 pages of tiny, close-packed black type, with not an image or illustration in sight.
  • Dundee became known as the “City of the 3 Js” – jute, jam and journalism, reflecting the importance of these three very different industries to the prosperity of the city.
  • During the 1870s the “Friend” set about establishing its place in the hearts of its devoted readers.
  • In April 1870, a new tagline was added to the magazine’s masthead: “A Weekly Miscellany of Popular and Instructive Literature”.
  • In 1875, sheet music started to be printed in the magazine – the very latest in home entertainment for the times!
  • The Love Darg, The People’s Friend’s own charitable appeal, started in 1895. The name came from an old Scots phrase meaning “a day’s work done for love”. In time it transformed into a major nationwide charitable appeal where readers would make thousands of gifts which were donated annually to over 80 hospitals, children’s homes, care homes and hospices across the UK in time for Christmas. It’s still going today, with readers knitting or crocheting items or giving cash donations each year.
  • Victorian Britain saw an unprecedented explosion in scientific discovery, and the “Friend” was determined to keep its readers up to date. The “Friend” was in no doubt that electricity would change our world and welcomed the imminence of the electric light, turning night into day.
  • The “Friend” was quick to encourage its readers to seek new horizons with travel. The growing middle class also had more leisure time, and the “Friend” began to introduce the idea of trips to Norway, Switzerland, Athens and Palermo, though British seaside resorts remained hugely popular.
  • In 1903 the “Friend” gave the exciting news that the magazine was to be permanently enlarged to 24 pages (28 including the cover). The typesetting was to be done by one of the latest Linotype machines, powered by electricity. Much was made of the speed with which they turned out columns of type. It was calculated that a Linotype worked by one man could set up the equivalent of 7000 letters per hour, equal to about four times the work that could be done by hand composition.
  • William Crawford Honeyman had a column in the magazine entitled “For Violin Players” which ran between 1897 and 1909.
  • In the short years of Edward VII’s reign great things would happen, and great events unfold. In 1908 the “Friend” marvelled at man’s conquest of the skies by men such as the Wright brothers and Bleriot.
  • When Britain declared war on Germany on August 4, 1914, almost overnight the “Friend”, like the women who loved to read it, was plunged into a new and challenging role in a fast-changing world.
  • As the war wore on, the “Friend” devoted more and more pages to thrift and “make do and mend”. It wasn’t long before wartime shortages began to affect the “Friend”. By February 1916, paper was in short supply, leading to a reduction in numbers of magazines printed, and it also became harder to send publications to loved ones overseas.
  • For now, at least, the war was over, life could return to normal – and the “Friend” and its readers could look forward to the future. Supplements such as “Aunt Kate’s Jumper Book” and “Aunt Kate’s Cookery Book” were included free with “The People’s Friend”.
  • History repeated itself with the outbreak of World War II in 1939, and once again the “Friend” would do its utmost to bring cheer and comfort to its readers. The magazine encouraged help with their Love Darg appeal.
  • To continue getting copies of “The Friend” out, the magazine dropped to 16 pages, and the font size was noticibly reduced in order to squeeze more words on to a page, to get round the extreme scarcity of paper.
  • Peace had been restored once more, and it was time for the “Friend” and its readers to leave behind the dark days of war and embrace a bright new future.
  • The cookery pages in the “Friend” offered achievable recipes given the constraints of the ration books, and “egg-free” recipes ensured that something could be put on the table.
  • With rationing over and a new monarch on the throne, Britain’s progress was entering a whole new era. Ten years after the NHS began, the “Friend” started “The Doctor Talks” column, and addressed some of the pressing healthcare concerns of the time.
  • From the start, the “Friend” was intended for the whole family. The Children’s Corner was a regular feature of the “Friend” for over a century, with stories, puzzles and general knowledge for the little ones.
  • The Sixties and Seventies were defining years for Britain, transforming the country into a place of freedom and hope, and the “Friend” was there every step of the way.
  • As the Sixties continued, the pages of the magazine were filled with stories and features depicting the changing times. It was in 1967 that the “Friend” published its first “trouser suit” paper pattern – a big change from the neat skirts and dresses previously offered – and the cookery pages were filled with recipes from around the world.
  • In 1969, “The People’s Friend” celebrated its 100th birthday and a special centenary tea towel was available for readers to buy.
  • During the Eighties and Nineties, young women looked to strong female role models to guide their ambitions. The “Friend” was there to encourage readers in every sphere.
  • The 80s was a decade of royal weddings. Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer in July 1981. Readers inspired by the royal couple were treated to an eight-page pull-out feature on how to plan a wedding.
  • In 1981, “The People’s Friend” introduced a new “filler” feature to the magazine. It was called “The Farmer And His Wife” and was a series of couthy tales told by a fictional farmer named John Taylor.
  • The millennium marked a fresh optimism as the world celebrated. Looking to the future, the “Friend” embraced the digital world while holding strong to traditional values.
  • The “Friend” celebrated its 150th birthday in 2019.
  • Official recognition of the magazine’s achievements and contribution to the world of publishing came with a string of awards, including Magazine Of The Year.
  • More recently The “Friend”, as ever, proved it could keep up with changing times by moving into the digital space, launching a website, podcast and Facebook and Twitter channels.

Your Memories

We’d love to hear your memories of “The People’s Friend” as we celebrate our 8,000th issue. Do you remember your mum or gran buying the magazine? When did you start reading it? Do you have old copies of the “Friend” or our annual up in your loft? Tell us about the pages you always turn to first in your issues – and the features from previous years that you enjoyed. We can’t wait to read your thoughts on the “Friend”, past or present. Go over to our Facebook page and leave your comments there.

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Allison Hay

I joined the "My Weekly" team thirteen years ago and, more recently, "The People's Friend". I love the variety of topics we cover both online and in the magazines. I manage the digital content for the brands, sharing features and information on the website, social media and in our digital newsletters.