Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Charing Cross Magazine

From the opening editorial:
The Editor of the Charing Cross Magazine does not feel it incumbent to apologise for the appearance of a new Monthly. He makes his bow to the public, modestly, but without feeling the slightest diffidence or a wish to plead any extenuating circumstances. Neither does he care to excuse his coming by calling attention to the smallness of the price asked for the Charing Cross. Cheapness is not the principal feature in the Magazine, although it is to be sold for the sum of Threepence.
__The Charing Cross Magazine is not a hastily contrived, hurriedly executed periodical, neither is it produced just to show off what can be done by securing very large advertisement contracts. It will not be sold to boom any particular firm, individual, or company. The purpose of the Editor is to fill the void which the increase in price of the recent threepenny magazines has created. The taste has been fostered, the need remains; it is to meet this need that the Charing Cross Magazine has been established. The proprietors desire to emphasize the following facts: (1) the Charing Cross is the only threepenny Magazine for all classes; (2) It is the largest threepenny worth ever offered; (3) The price will never, under any circumstances, be increased; (4) The size will never be decreased; (5) The quality will be maintained; (6) The contents will be such as to offend no age, or sex, or creed.
__For the Magazine itself. You will like it. It will make the journey home pleasant and less tedious; the wife will enjoy it and, remember this, the children will not be forgotten. The tone of the Magazine, while containing all the qualities of interest, adventure, and humour, which characterize the most popular forms of periodical literature, will be such that it may be read in every home. Every story and every article, apart from its literary merits, will be chosen with a view to maintaining this standard. To interest and amuse, without pandering to the morbid taste which has crept into certain forms of journalism, is the goal which will be striven for. Through the medium of the correspondence section it is hoped that close and cordial intercourse will be maintained between subscribers and the staff.
__For the rest, when you read the Magazine, it will speak for itself. The Editor may say confidentially that the motto of the enterprise—the only Latin he keeps on the premises—is acta non verba, or, in other words, “no boasting.”
__The Editor and the Proprietors send to all their friends and readers the world over, the old, old greeting, “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”
After such a build-up it is sad to note that The Charing Cross Magazine lasted a mere 8 issues. Published by The New Century Press Ltd., 434 Strand, London W.C., the Charing Cross debuted shortly before Christmas 1899, the first issue dated January 1900 with the second issue to follow on January 30th. It would seem that its much heralded low cost was too low.

The contents were a typical mixture for the time of historical, geographical and humorous articles, a serial by the otherwise unknown Fritz Ormsby, and a few scattered stories.

The serial ‘A Baptism of Fire’ was a murder-mystery in which Norman Ormsby (sharing his surname with his author), a former member of the Light Infantry in Canada had come into some good fortune and was now in England staying with a recently made friend, Curzon Trefry, at the latter’s home at Grange Fort. A fire burns the cottage down and Trefry is killed but it is only at the Coroner’s Court that it is revealed that Trefry had been shot before his body was burnt. Ormsby moves into Tressilian Court in Cornwall, but rumours about his involvement in the death of Trefry follow him and while the Court verdict is Trefry was murdered by a person or persons unknown, the villagers have no doubt they know the killer’s identity. (In his brief introduction, the author admits that he has thrown deliberate suspicion on Norman Ormsby and that he is not the murderer.)

The most interesting of the articles was on Britain possible overpopulation which revealed that, if all the mountains, moors and waterways were brought together they would occupy the whole of Scotland and Wales, cultivated land would fill Ireland, forests would fill Yorkshire and over three-quarters of England would be grassland—with houses and towns filling Cornwall, Devon and Dorset. This, the author revealed was a great increase in housing, for when Victoria came to the throne, Britain’s houses could have been packed into Lincolnshire. The whole population, the article claimed, could live on the Isle of Man, with each family having enough room to pitch a tent. “If we wanted to cover all the British Isles as closely as London, we should need quite four hundred million houses. Luckily, we don’t want, or air would have to be supplied to the unfortunate inhabitants by meter.”

Contents of first issue:

The Charing Cross Magazine [#1 v1, January 1900] (3d, 118pp+ads, cover by A.W.)
1 * Anon. * The New Year * pm
3 * Anon. * Introduction * ed
4 * Gregory, Lieut.-Colonel A. G. S. * Charing Cross * ar; illus. A. G. S. Gregory
5 * Oliver, Edwin * The Thames Palaces * ar; illus. W. Amor Fenn
16 * Biddle, Agnes M. * Mademoiselle la NĂ©gresse * ss; illus. photos
23 * Sherman, H. T. * The Oldest Printing House in the World. At the sign of the Golden Compass * ar; illus. photos
28 * [Comic Strip] * The Sporting Monkey and the Sleeping Toucan * cs; art by Chip
29 * Genone, T. * An African Hunting Story * ss; illus. D. G. Blakiston
38 * Silver, R. Norman * The Home-Secretary’s Diamond. A tale of the House of Commons * ss; illus. C. Dudley Tennant
46 * Macgregor, Lieut.-Colonel John * The Ghost of Captain Christie * ss; illus. Coralie Hetherington
57 * [Comic Strip] * The Sporting Dispatch Rider * cs; art by Jim Swift
59 * Bazin, Rene * The Return. A Christmas story * ss; illus. Coralie Hetherington
68 * Anon. * Beauties of the American Stage * pi
71 * Collin, Edward * Is Britain Overpopulated? * ar
75 * Anon. * South African Pictures * pi
79 * Tillotson, Mrs. W. D. * Buddhistic Funeral Rites and Ceremonies * ar; illus. photo
82 * Castelhun, Maida * Daybreak in the Country * pm
83 * Quiller-Couch, Mabel * Two Years Hard Labour * ss; illus. Coralie Hetherington
94 * Anon. * Types of English Dudes * pi; illus. Jim Swift
98 * Howell, Arthur * Bringing His Sheaves With Him * ss; illus. Jim Swift
107 * Ormsby, Fritz * A Baptism of Fire [Part 1 of ?] * sl
115 * Q.C. * From the Temple Garden * cl


  1. Interesting. However; I recently came across a pamphlet which states "The following article originally appeared in the "Charing Cross Magazine" which is dated from February 1875. It would be interesting to know if this was a different magazine than the one explored in your blog post.

  2. There was a magazine entitled Charing Cross which was published in 1873-78, edited by W. J. Morgan. I don't believe it had any connection to the Charing Cross Magazine above.



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