Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Novel Magazine

The Novel Magazine No.1

I think I have hit upon an absolutely NOVEL idea in advertising nad it comes very appropriately into use in advertising the first issue of THE NOVEL MAGAZINE. You will have seen our front cover, and you will have read thereon that you can, if you wish, get back again the fourpence you have spent in purchasing this copy.
I have made this offer with the thought of the money it may cost; it will run into thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of pounds, but I do not mind. The more the merrier! For I know that for every fourpence that I return I have gained a reader of THE NOVEL MAGAZINE, and I am willing all the time to buy readers at fourpence each. They are cheap at the price.
To get Readers is the main difficulty in starting a new periodical, You may spend £20,000 in advertising on the hoardings, and in other ways, but you are never quite sure how many new readers you will get by so doing. But if I have to spend £20,000 on this present scheme, I shall know for a certain that over a million persons have bought the first number of THE NOVEL MAGAZINE.
And now having explained to you how I am advertising this Magazine, I must tell you its salient features. Needless to say I should not be prepared to risk £20,000 unless I were quite sure that I had something to offer you which I am convinced you want.
Briefly, it is a Magazine entirely devoted to Stories. Fiction is the backbone of most Magazines; THE NOVEL MAGAZINE is all backbone. For fourpence you will be able in future to obtain a Magazine containing the best stories that money can buy, or that my staff of sub-editors can unearth from the thousand and one sources at their disposal.
To give variety to the contents you will find some half-a-dozen entirely novel features—"Books in Brief," "Half-Minute Stories,” "A Story in Verse," "Cupid in Fiction," "Pinafore Pages"—all of which I hope you will like.
I want you to read THE NOVEL MAGAZINE carefully through from beginning to end—it will take you longer than you think, but it is all good, easy reading—and then I want you to like it: and I want you to be unselfish, too, and instead of keeping a good think to yourself, tell all your friends about it. THE NOVEL MAGAZINE is the biggest Magazine for its price, and contains more, and, I hope, better, stories than any other. It isn’t illustrated, as you will see; the money we have saved in this direction has been put into the letterpress, so that you may have better stories and more of them.
The Novel Magazine was indeed novel: the first all-fiction British pulp magazine. Published by C. Arthur Pearson, it appeared two months after George Newnes' The Grand Magazine, but the latter only switched to all-fiction at a later date.

The title referred to novel stories rather than novel-length stories. The magazine certainly had some fine authors contributing to the first issue, including Rafael Sabatini (the first instalment of his novel, Bardelys the Magnificent), C. J. Cutcliffe Hyne (a reprint in the 'My Best Story' series, although the editor admitted that Cutcliffe Hyne had written better yarns!), Anton Tchekhoff (the first in a series of 'Masterpieces of Foreign Fiction') and a second serial, 'The Pillar of Light' by Louis Tracy, amongst others.

The magazine was a great success for Pearson and eventually ran for 393 issues, coming to an end in December 1937. According to Mike Ashley, its golden era was 1912-22 when it was edited by E. C. Vivian (bar a spell when he was serving during World War I). Later issues were edited by Nell Kennedy who dropped adventure and uncanny stories in favour of romance. The paper eventually merged with its great rival, The Grand.

Mike has an excellent essay on the magazine which goes into far greater detail about its history and contents in his book The Age of the Storytellers, which I highly recommend.

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