Sample Essay on The History of Magazines

The History of Magazines

Invention of Magazines

Conferring to the famous British theorist Francis Bacon, the printing print media was among the three main discoveries that completely transformed the entire face and state of affairs in the whole world (Bacon and Basil). Before this great invention of the printing press, books and other literature were to be meticulously written by the use of hands. After the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in 1440, he established a way for knowledge that was massively produced for the first time in the history of humanity and enhanced knowledge capacity. A century after this great invention, the printing press was actively being used to produce pamphlets, almanacs and newsletters besides Bibles and religious literature.

The first ever periodical that was referred to as Erbauliche Monaths-Unterredungen was afterwards printed by the famous German theologian and poet Johann Rist in 1663, which informed about monthly discussion (Dikbaş 3). The periodical was extensively considered one of the initial forms of the modern magazine. The gazette existed for several years and traversed to countless a quantity of similar journals in the United Kingdom, France, as well as Italy. The cultivated fresh intellectuals eagerly read the periodicals, famously acknowledged for their synopses of fresh books. Afterwards, in 1672, the original amusement periodical was published. Later on, a French author and scriptwriter Jean Donneau de Vizé created Le Mercure Galant that was later referred to as Mercure de France. The newspaper entailed several news items, songs, brief verses, and gossip. Despite the fact that the newspaper was criticized by other writers of that moment for its entertaining rather than intelligent content, it has turned out to become one of the most read and popular magazines in France.

The 1700s saw a major development and increased literacy and intellectual prowess, particularly among women. During this time, the society was hungry for knowledge thereby triggering magazines and other literature to become a prevalent cultural essential. The English printers set the stage through production of three essay periodicals, which paved the way for the contemporary magazines, for instance, the works of Daniel Defoe’s “The Review” that was published in 1704-13, Sir Richard Steele’s “The Tatler” printed in 1709-1711 and Addison and Steele’s “The Spectator” published in 1711-12. Since the magazines were issued at a given interval in a week, they resembled our contemporary newspapers. Additionally, the content of the magazine was also similar to that of present day magazines. The review that was printed and opinionated the essays in the magazines talked about national and international occurrences. For instance, The Tatler and The Spectator aimed at awakening morality with fun and tempering with morality. In that regard, the two publications impacted behaviors and opinions among the populations of the day (Turner 2). In addition, the periodicals signified a neutral ground between the painstaking exploration that was contained in books and the speedy reviews that were printed in newspapers. This formed the foundation of what has become the routine for the concept of the present day magazine.

Later in 1731, a renowned Englishman called Edward Cave published a periodical referred to as The Gentleman’s Magazine. Cave conceived the term magazine from the Arabic term makhazin that meant storehouse. Cave’s objective was to come up with a magazine whose content would appeal the public. Additionally, Cave’s magazine encompassed everything, for instance, essays, poems, popular stories, as well as political reflections. With regards to his publication, Cave attained two main fundamental achievements. Firstly, he coiled the word “magazine.” Secondly, which was one of the main achievements, he was the first publisher to positively model a comprehensive and wide-ranging publication globally.

In 1842, a new British news representative called Herbert Ingram produced the first illustrated magazine. After recognizing that exciting outlines and illustrations or artwork enhanced magazine sales, Ingram started publishing “The Illustrated London News.” This weekly news and arts magazine was occupied with several engraving designs that attracted a good number of audiences. The Illustrated London News was acknowledged for its distinctive feature as a magazine that integrated photos.

History of Magazines in America

Philadelphia printers, Andrew Bradford and Benjamin Franklin, printed the initial magazines in America in 1741(Sumner and Shirrel 130). The two printers also owned competing newspapers, which competed to print and distribute the first American magazine. Bradford eventually claimed the honor by first publishing American Magazine. Later on, Benjamin Franklin published his General Magazine after three days. Nonetheless, neither of the two magazines was met with abundant achievement. Consequently, Bradford’s publication crumpled after three months while Franklin’s magazine lasted for only six months.

Despite the fact these magazines only survived for a short time in their venture, they turned out to be extremely prevalent in the continent. Towards the end of the 18th century, there were more than 100 magazines spread across the United States. Among the most powerful and influential initial American magazines include the Pennsylvania Magazine that was rewritten by Thomas Paine as well as the Massachusetts Magazine.


The American early periodicals were also prevalent in the nation despite the fact they were afforded by the wealthy class in the society. Consequently, the early publications in America were intended for the most learned, well-educated and erudite personalities of the day. Conversely, towards the end of 1830s, more affordable magazines that targeted the general public audience and readership started emerging. Slightly different from the customary upholding of the intellectual air of their forerunners, these magazines incorporated and emphasized on hilarity and entertainment.

Special-Interest Magazines

In the late 1800s, the America’s magazine market experienced an increase of readership exponentially as a consequent of the obligatory education and increased levels of literacy. Therefore, magazines turned out to be more specialized in nature. Additionally, periodicals were produced specifically targeting specific professions, for instance, lawyers, artists, performers and among other specialists.

Furthermore, the 1800s also saw the expansion of fictional analysis magazines, which turned to be widely held. Among the initial American literary publications comprised of the Philadelphia Literary Magazine published between 1803 and 1808 and the Monthly Anthology printed in 1803-1811. The magazines contained essays and narrative pieces that were written by best writers during that moment. Later, The Atlantic was published in 1857, in Boston. The magazine contained the literature of some of America’s extreme writers, for instance, Ralph Waldo, Oliver Wendell Holmes and Henry Longfellow. Just before the end of 1895, the famous American Magazine called “the Bookman” started registering general books of the day, an idea that eventually gave rise to the modern moneymaker list.


Among the initial specialized publications in the history of the American magazine was the American Journal of Science, which was instituted in 1818. The publication is still present today concentrated on areas of geology and natural sciences. In 1845, the originator, Rufus Porter, produced the Scientific American to inspire fellow inventors. In the publication, he reconnoitered new inventions, thoughts and patents in that by 1900s, the magazines started focusing on features, such as traveling, parenting, or sewing.

Men’s & Women’s Magazines

In 1693, the famous London publisher John Dunton published a weekly periodical that was referred to as the Ladies’ Mercury. This one-page magazine was meant to give feedback to all the nice as well as probing questions regarding matters of love, marriage, behavior, dressing and humor of the female gender. The magazine was published and lasted for a period four weeks.

Afterwards, in 1770, the famous London bookseller called John Coote in collaboration with publisher John Wheble produced a longer-lasting women’s publication, that was referred to as The Lady’s Magazine. Additionally, the monthly British fashion magazine content was full of embroidery designs, piece melody, fictional articles, and fashion notes.

Furthermore, Godey’s Lady’s hardcover that was afterwards printed in Philadelphia in 1830 correspondingly formed the initial women’s magazines in America. The literature encompassed several poems, essays, and artwork that belonged to famous writers and artists during that time. The world of women’s magazines was transformed in 1883 when Cyrus Curtis produced his literature “Ladies’ Home Journal,” in collaboration with his wife Lousia Knapp Curtis who was the editor. The publication deviated from the romanticism of initial women’s magazines to encompass elements that were helpful and enhanced hands-on homemaking guidance. Each piece contained cooking guidelines, cleaning instructions, and stories. By the beginning of 1898, Ladies’ Home Journal turned out to be the first American magazine to grasp about one million subscribers. The first magazine about men was published in the American continent in 1933. The magazine was established with regards to the concept of “all things to all men,” Esquire through coverage of elements of fashion, music and culture. The magazine is still significant in the contemporary society.

Teen Magazines

The first magazine about the teens was published in 1944, called the Seventeen magazine. This was the first American publication magazine that was specifically produced targeting adolescents. Initially, the magazine’s objective was aimed at encouraging teenage girls to develop and become accomplished human beings. At first, the magazine content entailed articles concerning elements of labor, service, nationality, prettiness and fashion. Nevertheless, the magazine afterwards started focusing on aspects of beauty and fashion. Other magazines that were intended for the youth included the Teen Vogue, which followed the same wavelength. Generally, these magazines enhanced the solidification and shaping of the fresh minted model of a youth.

Magazine Distribution

Traditional magazines were frequently purchased at news stalls. Progressively, many organizations started distributing their magazines through subscription. Through subscription, a subscriber was assured that he/she would receive each new issue of the magazine. Currently, many people are able to purchase magazines on a per-issue basis or through subscription. At times, some of the magazines are supplied and given for free, for instance, in-flight airline magazines. Furthermore, several current magazines have also been built with the digital element that qualifies them for added accessible content.

History of Today’s Popular Magazines

Among the famous magazines called the National Geographic Magazine was founded in 1888. In this publication, most of the content was about scientific information and exciting photos. The initial revenue that was received from the early magazine was used to fund scientific tours and actions. Currently, the magazine is one of the respected publications that address issues concerning science, geology, and world events. At present, numerous magazines globally are intended for motivating, apprising, teaching, and amusing readers internationally. Approximately 600 years after the beginning of the printing press, magazines remain to be the greatest literature that transforms the way and nature of things across the entire world.

Works Cited

Bacon, Francis, and Basil Montagu. The works of Francis Bacon, lord chancellor of England. William Pickering, 1825.


Sumner, David E, and Shirrel Rhoades. Magazines: A Complete Guide to the Industry. New York: P. Lang, 2006. Print.

Turner, Zelma Inez. “An analysis of the styles of Addison and Steele in the” Spectator” papers.” (1949).