Changing patterns of advice in teenage magazines: Mirabelle, 1956–77
Melanie Tebbutt’s essay traces some of the changes which transformed working-class culture after the Second World War through an analysis of the personal advice pages of teenage magazines, an important expression of girls’ culture between the mid-1950s and late-1970s. Tebbutt takes as her subject Mirabelle magazine, widely read by girls in this period, although its popularity has been largely over-shadowed by the most popular teenage magazine of the time, which was Jackie. Advice pages in teenage magazines from the 1950s and 1960s have received less attention that those of the later decades of the twentieth-century and Tebbutt traces the changes which took place in queries and answers, from the time of Mirabelle’s publication, in 1956, when its advice column was identified with a marriage bureau in central Manchester, to ceasing production in 1977, by which time discussion of sexual matters, including pregnancy outside marriage, had become more open. Magazines aimed at the teenage market were an important source of sexual information for young people and this essay offers a nuanced analysis of Mirabelle’s advice pages which suggests there is considerable scope for comparative studies.
This book of essays on British social and cultural history since the eighteenth century draws attention to relatively neglected topics including personal and collective identities, the meanings of place, especially locality, and the significance of cultures of association. The essays capture in various ways the cultural meanings of political and civic life, from their expression in eighteenth-century administrative practices, to the evolving knowledge cultures of county historical societies, the imaginative and material construction of place reputations and struggles to establish medical provision for the working-class in the face of entrenched special interests. They also explore the changing relationship between the state and the voluntary sector in the twentieth-century and the role of popular magazines and the press in mediating and shaping popular opinion in an era of popular democracy. It is of interest that several of the essays take Manchester or Lancashire as their focus. Themes range from rural England in the eighteenth century to the urbanizing society of the nineteenth century; from the Home Front in the First World War to voluntary action in the welfare state; from post 1945 civic culture to the advice columns of teenage magazines and the national press. Various aspects of civil society connect these themes notably: the different identities of place, locality and association that emerged with the growth of an urban environment during the nineteenth century and the shifting landscape of public discourse on social welfare and personal morality in the twentieth-century.
The editors introduce the volume and the chapter is in two parts. The first part summarises the themes of the book and the arguments of each of the essays and the second part is an appreciation of the life and work of the person in his whose honour the essays have been written.