America hadn’t yet declared its independence, but British magazine Tatler, was already going strong – founded in November 1709. Here’s a history of it; founded by Richard Steele, it originally published three times a week, as a newspaper focused on gossip.
British Vogue tells the story:
“There is such an amazing archive, I couldn’t resist delving into it,” goes on [editor Catherine] Ostler. “But there is a bit of everything in there, from old money to new news: the Spencers – the Guinnesses – why Scotts is the best restaurant in London – a hilarious account of 12 Dukes having lunch – Tina Brown discussing how Diana, Princess of Wales saved Tatler in the Eighties – and a fashion shoot of all the things that happened in 1709: the hot air balloon was invented for a start, and the first Union Jack appeared because of the union of Scotland that year (before Ireland was added) – hence our commissioning the designer dresses. It was also the coldest winter in 500 years. It was called “the great frost” – all the fish died in the rivers and birds exploded in the air,” says Ostler, incredulously. “Literally, in the air.”
Those who have followed Tina Brown’s career — now editor and founder of The Daily Beast — know she edited Tatler in the 1980s. The magazine is defiantly aristo, focusing relentlessly on Britain’s upper class, filled with party photos of Sloane Rangers, the lean, leggy blonds who shop in chic Sloane Square in London hoping to snag, snog and marry a Hooray Henry, moving into Mummy’s country estate to raise perfect kids wearing Burberrys, Barbours and Wellies. It’s an acquired taste, but a fun break from the deadly earnestness of many American women’s magazines.
As publications on this side of the pond slash staff every week, here’s a toast to one that’s lasted a little longer.