Monday, 13 May 2019

Celebrating 150 Years of The People's Friend

I was delighted to attend the afternoon event with two friends at the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh to celebrate 150 years of The People's Friend magazine. And what a celebration it was! So many of us fondly remember our mothers and grandmothers reading this when we were small, and many of us have gone on to read it ourselves, or even write for it. The centre is just to the left of John Knox House which makes a better photo.

The afternoon did the magazine proud and the staff who had travelled from Dundee were every bit as friendly as we'd expected. The Storytelling Centre is featuring The People's Friend Exhibition from 10th to 25th May so it's worth having a look if you're in Edinburgh. The event I was at on Saturday was held downstairs in one of the theatres and we were treated to a wonderful history of the magazine from its first issue in 1869. We were all given a replica copy of this edition and the writing is so tiny, it's a wonder it could be read!

The editor, Angela Gilchrist, introduced the programme before sub-editor Margaret Scott took us on a fascinating journey through the past, present and future. This was followed by an enjoyable reading from one of their story writers, Jane Tulloch. Assistant archivist, Barry Sullivan, then took us up to the break with his portrait of WC Honeyman, a man who deserves greater recognition.
We all traipsed upstairs to enjoy the Friend's hospitality with tea, coffee and a variety of muffins. This was also a chance to enjoy a read of the displays and a chat with some of the Friend's staff, as well as the readers and writers milling around. I was pleased to see Wendy Clark's photo and story featured and I got to meet Suzanne Ross at last, after being friends on the Internet for years.


The final sessions were equally fascinating. A young PhD student, Charlotte Lauder, presented a snapshot of what the magazine has meant to women over the years, uncovering some previously unknown information. I was amazed to hear about one of the first female journalists and editors and her support of women in the 19th century.

Another enjoyable reading was given by Edinburgh writer, Kate Blackadder. This was followed by a presentation from archivist David Powell who reminded us that the Archives don't stop in 1918! We had time for a couple of questions before we left satisfied with an informative and entertaining afternoon.

Thank you People's Friend for bringing so much pleasure to so many people 150 years on.



Rae Cowie said...

Gosh Rosemary, it sounds an interesting, packed afternoon! So wish I lived nearer Edinburgh. The Friend's archive must be a treasure trove in terms of social history.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

It was much more interesting and enjoyable than we'd expected, Rae, and I'm so glad I was free to attend that day!

Patsy said...

Sounds like an enjoyable event.

Both my grandmothers read The Friend. Sadly they never got to see my work in it, as I know they'd have been very proud.

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Carolb said...

Sounds like a fabulous day was experienced by all attending, Rosemary, and you were in the ideal location to go.x

Rosemary Gemmell said...

That was a shame, Patsy - my mother loved it too.

I was lucky to be within easy distance by train, Carol, and glad I didn't miss it!

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