A Magazine of Her Own? Domesticity and Desire in the Woman's Magazine, 1800-1914

By Margaret Beetham | Go to book overview

7

RE-MAKING THE LADY: THE QUEEN

When we write for women, we write for home. We shall offend very few when we say that women have neither heart nor head for abstract political speculation; while as for our liberties, or our political principles, they may safely be left to men bred in the honest independence of English homes.

(Queen I 1861:1)

In whatsoever proportions the graver rights and duties of life are adjudged and distributed, to Woman beyond all dispute belongs the casting voice in social usages and manners.

(Ladies Companion XXVII 1850:8)

In 1861 Beeton launched a new journal for women, the Queen. Though Isabella's death forced Samuel to sell the title 'on very easy terms' within a year, this was to be the most successful of all the Beeton periodicals, surviving into the 1990s (Watkins 1985:187). It pioneered and remained a significant example of a new kind of journal for women. Contemporaries called them 'class' papers; I describe them as 'ladies' illustrated newspapers' because they brought the concept of the lady, the techniques of illustration and the category of news into dynamic relationship with each other. They carried the woman's journal form forward through the 1860s to the end of the century and beyond and are the subject of this chapter.

The Queen was dedicated to a female sovereign and claimed to be 'for women', 'about women' and 'EDITED by a LADY'. It constructed a readership of 'ladies' rather than 'domestic women' (Q. II 1862:96). Like its later imitators and rivals, it assumed an annual income well above the £300 which marked the respectable middle class. In 1885, when senior male workers in insurance, banking or the civil service earned less than £200 a year, the Queen advised its readers:

You may live very comfortably on £800 a year but, if your family be at all large, it will require careful management and allow but a narrow margin for [the pleasures] which make life worth living.

(Q. LXXIX 1865:102; cf. EDMN.S. 2 IV 1868:22; Read 1979:26)

'When we write for women, we write for home' the Queen asserted in its opening number, but neither term meant here what it did in the Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine. This 'home' was neither the product of woman's moral

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