Fiction Ed’s Blog: ‘Friend’ Fiction’s Early Days, Part Two

Following from last week’s look at fiction in our earliest times, this week we’re looking at how our fiction went from strength to strength, in those early days.

Late Victorian Days

In the late Victorian period, stories about changes and problems in society remained popular with “Friend” readers – as well as a new genre, detective fiction, with the  Friend’s own William C. Honeyman writing some of the first detective fiction in the country.

Female writers were becoming more visible, although many continued to write under a pen name – like our own Annie S. Swan, who sometimes chose to write as David Lyall.

A New Century

The industrial revolution meant the Edwardian period was a time of change, but then as now, the “Friend” remained a constant in a changing world.

Our fiction and poetry were changing to occasionally include a new concept – illustrations.

The Outbreak Of War

War was declared in August 1914, but it took a few months for that to be reflected in our stories, due to the longer time it took to go through the production process in those days.

Our fiction showed the realities of war balanced against lighter romances, family stories and mysteries. Escapism, with relatable characters, who shared readers’ worries.

Women started to take on traditionally male roles and became part of the workforce.

The Home Front

Annie S. Swan – who would write for the ‘Friend’ for over sixty years –  toured the battlefields of France and became a major fundraiser for our boys at the front, as well as a morale-raiser for “Friend” readers at home.

On the home front, there would be an appeal for ‘girl readers’ to work in the “Friend” office, to replace men on active service.

For the first time in its history, “Friend” fiction was aimed primarily at women, rather than the whole family.


Lucy Crichton

Fiction Editor Lucy is always on the look-out for the very best short stories, poems and pocket novels. As well as sourcing enjoyable content, she enjoys working with our established contributors, encouraging new talent, and celebrating 155 years of 'Friend' fiction!