It is the longest-running weekly magazine in the world and was first published ten years before Thomas Edison patented the electric lightbulb.
Now the People’s Friend is to mark its impressive 150th anniversary with a year-long series of events and celebrations.
First published in Dundee on 13 January, 1869, a copy of the magazine is still sold every 3.44 seconds - almost nine million copies a year.
Pitched as a magazine to “entertain and instruct” its readers, the People’s Friend was originally designed to be enjoyed by the whole family, read out around the fireplace. It subsequently morphed into a female-focused publication as men went off to fight in the First World War and now includes around 600 short stories every year.
Now with a total readership of 400,000, it is also exported each week to 20,000 readers as far afield as Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada.
Angela Gilchrist, editor-in-chief of The People’s Friend since 2007, said the magazine still stands by its founding principles to ensure it contains nothing that could “corrupt the morals either of old or young”.
She said: “We’re proud to have maintained the founding values of the magazine. They are embedded into the ethos of the magazine – this is what The Friend is about and what it stands for.
“The famous founding statement which was in the first issue talks about ‘Nothing in the columns intended to corrupt the morals of young or old’ and that is very much the principle of the magazine. There will be nothing to upset or offend. The Friend is all about entertainment so people feel better for reading it, not saddened, upset or frightened in any way.”
The magazine was officially added to the Guinness Book of World Records in 2008 when it marked its 140th anniversary. This year (2019) marks 150 years of continuous publishing. The 150th anniversary issue on 12 January 2019 will be issue number 7,759.
Ms Gilchrist said that some readers had read ‘The Friend’ every day for 60 years.
She said: “Reaching this milestone is amazing and is proof of the relationship we have with our readers. No other magazine can come close to this. And that more than anything is what has made it flourish for 150 years. Readers tell me how much they look forward to the magazine coming though their door every week. They say it’s like welcoming a friend in to their home.
“In its 150-year history, The People’s Friend has survived massive social upheaval, world wars, strikes and natural disasters, and through it all, it’s continued, dispensing entertainment, comfort and good cheer, acting as a true friend to its readers in good times and in bad.”
The achievement of 150 years of continous publication will see a series of celebratory events held around Scotland and elsewhere in the UK. The series of events include a day of talks about the magazine’s place in publishing history at Glasgow’s Mitchell Library in April, an exhibition of original cover art at the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh a month later and a readers’ weekend at Alvaston Hall, Crewe, where readers can meet the team behind the magazine, hear about the history of the publication and take part in “Friend” activities.
Meanwhile, later in the year, a further series of talks will take place at the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh. There are also plans for short story writing workshops during the anniversary year.
The magazine was originally sold for just one penny - and the cover price was not increased until 1918 to 1½d.