Past Times: Woman’s World

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I love old magazines. They capture an image of the world, with adverts and illustrations showing as much as the articles. This copy of Woman’s World is one of my favourites.

The Woman’s World was published between 1886-90. Between November 1887 and July 1889 it was edited by Oscar Wilde (who changed the name from The Lady’s World to The Woman’s World.) Ella Hepworth Dixon was subsequently invited to be editor by Wilde, once he became bored by deadlines and running the magazine.


This copy is from 1889. It contains advice on managing the home, beauty, careers and cleaning.


And inspecting the drains.


And adverts for soap.


A lot of adverts for soap (20 pages, to be precise).


It contains illustrations with captions such as ‘A bright cheerful woman’s face is a room’s best ornament.’


There is no-nonsense advice about the benefits of fresh air and exercise. Apparently, fatigue is caused by bad air. Most invalids are cured by fresh air and, generally, a good scrubbing with soap.


The career section is enlightening with more roles than I’d been inspecting, including masseuse, woodcarver, spinner and fan painter alongside the more expected nursing and teaching.

It’s a lovely taste of the way things used to be – and makes me pleased that there is now more to women’s magazines than cleaning and soap advertisements.


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