My main blog, British Comics Misecellany, is about British comics and (especially) story papers from all eras. But I prefer the ones from the 1890’s to 1940’s, the age of the Empire! (well, it’s height, and start of the rapid fall). That blog concentrates heavily on the stories, giving articles a brief once-over, and says almost nothing about the adverts.
A lot of the “higher minded” story papers, such as Chums, Rovering and The Boys’ Own Paper (though, oddly, I don’t own any of those) had articles on many subjects – and some of those subjects were politics, society, history, geography, citizenship and, of course, the Empire. They provide a very interesting look at British society of the time, and how Britons saw other societies. Other articles provide glimpses of half-forgotten fragments of British history, once well-known to every citizen, and of now-dead customs and “cottage industries” that once existed in out-of-the-way places.
We have, in the words of Show of Hands, “lost more than we’ll ever know”, but these articles often provide a window into what has been lost. We hear little of them in the media – and what we do hear is usually filtered through modern academia, and the broadcaster’s intended narrative. Any article about The Boys’ Own Paper will inevitably mention the infamous “golden hamster letter” it printed, right at the end of it’s life – and not the huge influence it exerted on several generations of British men. Even Mr Jeremy “one nation tory” Paxman’s series on the Empire dismissed Chums with a giggle at the title, and a close-up of a particularly racially-stereotyped illustration.
The purpose of this blog is to reproduce these articles in full, so you can get a real impression of what these papers were like. They will also provide some interesting information about how life used to be lived and, for some readers, suggest now-neglected places they might like to visit. While I’m pretty obviously nationalist, imperialist, “far right”, etc… I’ll only provide minimal contextual commentary. Where possible, I’ll provide links back to British Comics Miscellany, where I’ve given some of these papers more general coverage (an article on Rovering is on the way!).