Children and Womens’ Magazines

Children's magazine

A large number of children's periodicals were published from 1823, when Addysgydd [The Instructor] appeared, to the end of the century. The overwhelming majority were short-lived, although at least 6 titles survived for a century or more.

Once more it was the religious denominations that supported these titles. They had definite commercial advantages, in that they were distributed and marketed comparatively easily in the Sunday schools. Not unexpectedly, bearing in mind contemporary taste, the contents of the century's children's magazines are similar to those of the adult publications.

The publisher’s aim was to promote morality, religion and those values so greatly esteemed in Victorian society. It was thought that the best way to safeguard children from worldly temptations was to arouse fear in their hearts and teach them to give their lives to the service of God. As a result periodicals such as Yr Athraw i blentyn [The Child's teacher] (1827-1918), Tywysydd yr ieuainc [Guide for young people] (1837-51), and Y Winllan [The Vineyard] (1848-1965), are full of religious stories and tales of the deaths of virtuous children; their editors had little idea of what appealed to young readers.

Trysorfa’r Plantand Cymru’r Plant

In 1862 the first issue of Trysorfa'r plant [The Children's treasury] appeared, edited by Thomas Levi on behalf of the union of Calvinistic Methodists. This magazine had no serious rival in popularity, and its circulation was considerable among readers of all denominations. Thomas Levi knew exactly what appealed to children, and saw to it that each issue contained a variety of material in clear, simple language.

By 1881 ‘Trysorfa'r plant’ sold 40,000 copies a month and its editors claimed that over 1.5 million copies were sold between 1862 and 1911.

In 1892 Owen M Edwards established Cymru'r plant and succeeded in breaking the monopoly of the religious denominations over children's periodicals. Owen Edwards was an especially talented author and writer, and every issue of his magazine bears evidence of planning in careful detail. He aimed at a varied content, including:

  • stories
  • articles on science
  • articles on animals
  • articles on plants
  • the history and literature of Wales.

He also ensured that he had an abundance of interesting illustrations, which gave his publication a completely modern image. In the wake of his success Cymru'r plant fostered a generation of new authors writing for children and young people, including Winnie Parry, Richard Morgan and Eluned Morgan.

Women's magazines

It was not until 1850 that the first Welsh magazine for women was established, namely Y Gymraes [The Welshwoman], edited by Evan Jones ('Ieuan Gwynedd'). He believed that women needed to be educated to make their social contribution as wives and mothers; and his publication is full of detailed instruction on housekeeping and cooking. This monthly came to an end after 2 years through lack of support; it was not sponsored by any denomination or movement.

The secular and religious education of women was also the aim of Y Frythones [The British woman] (1879-91), edited by Sarah Jane Rees ('Cranogwen'). It was based on The English women's domestic magazine, and philanthropic women such as Hannah Moore and Elizabeth Fry were among its heroines.

The second Y Gymraes [The Welshwoman], (1896-1934) belongs to a slightly later period. It was edited by Alice Gray Jones ('Ceridwen Peris'), a less conservative editor than her predecessors, who constantly upheld the rights and status of women.