The original Gentlewoman

I think it’s fair to say that I’m as excited as everyone else about the launch of The Gentlewoman, the female counterpart to the excellent Fantastic Man.  I don’t know if I’m alone in thinking this (I am a magazine square to the max), but when I first heard the name I thought to myself, ooh, that’s a bit like The Lady. Not because the name is similar (although… it is), but because when The Lady launched all those moons ago (1885, fact fans), its tagline was, ‘the magazine for gentlewomen’. Wonder if that’s intentional? Just something that’s currently circulating my brain.

I studied the changing face of feminism in women’s magazines for my MA dissertation and that FASCINATING document (no really it was, I have spare copies if you want one) covered everything from The Lady to Spare Rib via Minx and Sassy, so I guess maybe my useless knowledge bank is full of more women’s mag facts than it needs to be. I think it’s a generally accepted fact that The Lady is a bit of an outdated institution now (and it’s edited by Boris Johnson’s sister which earns it a big red cross) but they recently revamped their website and I’m happy to admit that after I heard that I went on to spend an afternoon nosying around the blogs. I think if you go into it knowing what to expect (adverts for nannies and features about an alien land where people still have country parties), you can enjoy it, even if you’re not of that world. I’ll be interested to see where the print edition ends up. I keep reading features about them trying to shake off their staid image, but that’s kind of the point of the magazine isn’t it? I don’t think anyone buys it expecting features about babies with two heads or Cheryl Cole’s divorce. Sure the etiquette guidelines and pieces about how to find a good under gardener are passé to the maximus but I think there’s still a place for it, especially now that cupcakes [shudder], knitting and Women’s Institutes are all back in action. Publisher Ben Budworth, great-grandson of the magazine’s founder said last year in an interview with the Independent;

Where we were once seen as irrelevant and eccentric, we want to be seen as charming and amusing.

I dunno, might be pushing it, but those credentials aren’t exactly a million miles from what the Gentlewoman is aiming for are they? Lovely Gert Jonkers, the brains behind Fantastic Man and Gentlewoman describes the new launch as,

…a magazine about and for amazing woman. It will be inspiring, it’ll have great journalism, I hope it’ll be super good fun too.

Super good fun? I think The Lady would approve.

ETA: Great interview with Penny Martin, editor of The Gentlewoman on Ponystep now!

[Great vintage cover from The Lady’s Facebook page — wonder how much that front cover advertorial would have cost??]