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Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Grand Magazine

The Grand Magazine, issue 1

"The Most Original Magazine in the World" boasted the cover. "Every page in this magazine is interesting." Except the cover, perhaps, with its rather lacklustre attempt at design. However, the contents cannot be faulted and the first issue could boast contributions by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and George Bernard Shaw. It was published by George Newnes, by then a powerful name in publishing, whose company was able to attract a substantial amount of advertising for this new venture—so much, in fact, that the contents page did not appear until page 19 of a total of 24 pages of advertising.

The leading feature (the first of a series with the title “My Best Story”) was actually a reprint of an old Conan Doyle yarn which Doyle thought of as his best “because so large a theme is treated in so limited a space.”

Newnes introduced the magazine thus:
Thirteen years ago I came to the conclusion that more attration might be given to Magazines by the generous introduction of high-class illustrations.
I believed that a Magazine beautifully printed on Art paper, and with a picture on nearly every page, would be welcomed. And so the Strand Magazine was founded. Needless now to say, it met with abundant success from the first number, and after enjoying many years of prosperity is to-day more firmly than ever established in public favour, not only in Great Britain, but in the United States, in Canada, Australasia, and, indeed, wherever the English language is spoken.
Since then a number of Magazines on the lines of the Strand have eben issued by George Newnes, Limited—and others.
But whilst recognising the great and ever-enduring popularity of illustrations I have formed the opinion that a large number of the reading public sometimes prefer to let their imagination picture the scenes described rather than that the letterpress should be interrupted. Accordingly I am venturing to lay before a public whose generouse support in the past I can never adequately acknowledge a Magazine which will depend entirely on the literary strength of the Stories and Articles which it contains.
I shall have the advantage of the valuable co-operation of Mr. Greenough Smith, who has been closely associated with me in the Strand Magazine from its commencement, and who has for some years been its acting editor.
It is hoped that a strong point in the Grand Magazine will be the excellence of its fiction; and the greatest care will be taken to ensure that as rarely as possible a reader will be disappointed with a story which he has commenced.
Subjects which are occupying the public mind will be dealt with in a bright and original manner. It is possible with an all-letterpress Magazine to print immediately before publication so that topics of current interest may be included, albeit political and essentially controversial subjects will be avoided.
In the X-Rays section an attempt will be made each month to throw a piercing light on some national abuse. In this number the method of taking and relying upon Police evidence is the subject selected.
Many new features will be introduced from time to time, and it is hoped that the Grand Magazine will admittedly be entitled to make the modest claim which appears on the cover of the first number—Every page of this Magazine is interesting.
The first X-Ray concerned Adolf Beck, convicted of a fraud in 1896 which was very similar to a case in 1877 where a Mr. John Smith was tried and convicted of similar offences. The police case was that Beck and Smith were one and the same person and interviewed some 24 or 25 women; only those who positively identified Beck were brought forward at the trial—the Defence was never told the names of the women the police had interviewed who had said Beck was not Smith. Beck was arrested and convicted a second time in 1904, although in this instance the Judge refused to pass sentence. Two weeks later, the real John Smith was tried and confessed to the crimes Beck had been imprisoned for.

The case was examined by G. R. Sims and others and, eventually, a Commission was appointed to inquire into the case. The article was “written by an eminent Lawyer and Member of the House of Commons,” who was due to take an active part in a Commons Debate set up to discuss the Report of the Commission.

Amongst the ‘Interesting People’ were Lord Rosebery, Beerbohm Tree, Hall Caine and Lady Henry Somerset; ‘The Causeries of the Grand Club’ was nothing more than a posh gossip column; the ‘Grand Kaleidoscope’ was a miscellany of science and curiosities; and in the battle between Man and Woman for ‘Who Has the Best Time?’, writer John Oliver Hobbes maintained it was women.

Contents:

The Grand Magazine [#1, February 1905] (4½d, 24+180pp, cover: design)
1 * Newnes, Geo. * Introduction * ed
3 * Doyle, Sir Arthur * The Straggler of ’15 * ss * Black & White, 21 March 1891
14 * Anon. * Real Experiences of the Supernatural * ar
20 * Anon. * The Burglary at the Inn * ss
23 * Anon. * Both Sides: The Japanese and the Russians * ar
26 * Anon. * Both Sides: The Russians and the Japanese * ar
31 * Sardonm Victorien * The Bomb Shell * ss * from the French
37 * Anon. * How to Live Long * ar
44 * Anon. * The Immorality of Women at Bridge * ar
48 * Pigott, Mostyn T. * A Yarn of Years * pm
51 * Under the X-Rays No.1—The Case of Mr. Adolf Beck
61 * Anon. * Interesting People * ms
71 * Roberts, Morley * The Extra Hands of the S.S. “Nemesis” * ss
93 * Anon. * The Causeries of the Grand Club * ms
99 * Hobbes, John Oliver * Who Has the Best Time: A Man or a Woman? * ar
103 * Anon. * It Didn’t Take * pm
104 * Normanby, Henry * One Life or Two? * ss
110 * Anon. * What’s in a Name? * pm
111 * Shaw, G. Bernard * The Theatre of the Future * ss
129 * Anon. * Puzzles * ar
134 * Anon. * “Pet” Stories * ar
138 * Anon. * Hurrah for Old Winter * pm
139 * Anon. * Confession Without Absolution * nf
141 * Anon. * Plots of Plays * ms
149 * Heyse, Paul * L’arrabiata * ss * from the German
161 * Anon. * The Best Things to Read * ar
169 * Anon. * The Grand Kaleidoscope * ms

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