Punch (magazine)

Punch (magazine)

"Punch" was a British weekly magazine of humour and satire published from 1841 to 1992 and from 1996 to 2002. "Punch" material was also collected in book formats as early as the 1800s, including "Pick of the Punch" annuals with cartoons and text features, "Punch and the War" a 1941 collection of WWII-related cartoons, and "A Big Bowl of Punch" which was republished a number of times. Many Punch cartoonists of the late 20th century published collections of their own work partly based on "Punch" contributions.


"Punch" was founded on 17 July 1841 by Henry Mayhew and engraver Ebenezer Landells. At its founding it was jointly edited by Mayhew and Mark Lemon. Initially it was subtitled "The London Charivari", this being a reference to a satirical humour magazine published in France under the title "Le Charivari". Reflecting their satiric and humorous intent, the two editors took for their name and masthead the anarchic glove puppet, Mr. Punch; the name also referred to a joke made early on about one of the magazine's first editors, Lemon, that "punch is nothing without lemon". Mayhew ceased to be joint editor in 1842 and became "suggestor in chief" until he severed his connection in 1845. "Punch" was responsible for the modern use of the word "cartoon" to refer to a comic drawing. The illustrator Archibald Henning designed the cover of the magazine's first issues. The cover design varied in the early years, though Richard Doyle designed what became the magazine's masthead in 1849.

In the 1860s and 1870s, conservative "Punch" faced competition from upstart liberal journal "Fun", but after about 1874, "Fun"'s fortunes faded. At Evans's café in London, the two journals had "Round tables" in competition with each other. [See [http://journals.mup.man.ac.uk/cgi-bin/pdfdisp//MUPpdf/NCTF/V30I2/300001.pdf Schoch, Richard, "Performing Bohemia" (2004)] (copy downloaded 13 October 2006).]

After months of financial difficulty and a relative lack of initial market success, "Punch" became a staple for British drawing rooms because of its sophisticated humour and absence of offensive material, especially when viewed against the satirical press of the time. "The Times" used small pieces from "Punch" as column fillers, giving the magazine free publicity and indirectly granting a degree of respectability, a privilege not enjoyed by any other comic publication. "Punch" would share a friendly relationship with not only "The Times" but also journals aimed at intellectual audiences such as the "Westminster Review", which published a fifty-three page illustrated article on "Punch's" first two volumes. Historian Richard Altick writes that "To judge from the number of references to it in the private letters and memoirs of the 1840s..."Punch" had become a household word within a year or two of its founding, beginning in the middle class and soon reaching the pinnacle of society, royalty itself". [ See Altick, Richard. "Punch: The Lively Youth of a British Institution, 1841-1851" (Ohio State University Press, 1997), 17.]

Increasing in readership and popularity throughout the remainder of the 1840s and 1850s, "Punch" was the success story of a threepenny weekly paper that had become one of the most talked-about and enjoyed periodicals of its time. "Punch" enjoyed an audience on both sides of the Atlantic, including: Elizabeth Barrett, Robert Browning, Thomas Carlyle, Edward FitzGerald, Charlotte Brontë, Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emily Dickinson, Herman Melville, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and James Russell Lowell. "Punch" gave several phrases to the English language, including The Crystal Palace, and the "Curate's egg" (first seen in an 1895 cartoon). Several British humour classics were first serialised in "Punch", such as the "Diary of a Nobody" and "1066 and All That".

Circulation peaked during the 1940s when it reached 175,000, but slowly declined over the years, until the magazine was forced to close in 1992 after 150 years of publication.

Gallery of selected early covers

1 July cover shows Punch straddling a trumpeter
Punch_magazine_cover_from_1867_shows_Richard_Doyle26 April cover shows Richard Doyle's masthead with colour and advertisements

1996 resurrection

In early 1996, the Egyptian businessman Mohamed Al-Fayed bought the rights to the name, and it was re-launched later that year. It was reported that the magazine was intended to be a spoiler aimed at "Private Eye", which had published many items critical of Fayed. The magazine never became profitable in its new incarnation, and at the end of May 2002 it was announced that "Punch" would once more cease publication. Press reports at the time quoted a total loss to its owner of some £16 million (about $28 million U.S.) over the six years of publication, with only 6,000 subscribers at the end.

Whereas the earlier version of "Punch" had prominently featured the clownish character Punchinello (a.k.a. Punch of Punch and Judy) performing various antics on each issue's front cover (in a manner later copied by "Mad" magazine's character Alfred E. Neuman), the resurrected "Punch" magazine did not use this character at all, but prominently featured on its weekly covers a photograph of a boxing glove, thus informing its readers that the new magazine intended its name to mean "punch" in the sense of a punch in the eye.

In 2004, much of the archive, including the famous "Punch" table, was sold to the [http://www.bl.uk/puncharchive.html British Library] .


Editors of "Punch" were:
* Mark Lemon (1841-1870)
* Henry Mayhew (1841-1842)
* Charles William Shirley Brooks (1870-1874)
* Tom Taylor (1874-1880)
* Sir Francis Burnand (1880-1906)
* Sir Owen Seaman (1906-1932)
* E.V. Knox (1932-1949)
* Kenneth Bird (1949-1952)
* Malcolm Muggeridge (1953-1957)
* Bernard Hollowood (1958-1968)
* William Davis (1969-1977)
* Alan Coren (1978-1987)
* David Taylor (editor) (1988)
* David Thomas (editor) (1989-1992)
* Peter McKay (journalist) (September 1996-1997)
* Paul Spike (1997)
* James Steen (1997-2001)
* Richard Brass (2001-2002)

Cartoonists who worked for the magazine included:

*Acanthus (Frank Hoar)
*Antonia Yeoman|Anton (Antonia Yeoman)
*Edward Ardizzone
*Nicolas Bentley
*Murray Ball
*Quentin Blake
*Russell Brockbank
*Richard Doyle (who also illustrated Charles Dickens' Xmas books)
*Rowland Emett
*ffolkes (Michael Davies)
*Fougasse (Kenneth Bird)
*Alex Graham (creator of Fred Basset)
*J.B. Handelsman
*Leslie Illingworth [http://www.arthurwatts.com/]
*John Jensen
*Charles Keene
*David Langdon
*Larry (Terrence Parkes)
*John Leech
*George du Maurier
*Phil May
*Nick Newman
*Bernard Partridge
*Pont (Graham Laidler)
*Matt Pritchett [http://news.independent.co.uk/people/obituaries/article2686799.ece]
*Arthur Rackham
*Edward Linley Sambourne
*Gerald Scarfe
*Ronald Searle
*E.H. Shepard (who also illustrated "Winnie-the-Pooh")
*Robert Sherriffs
*William Sillince
*George Sprod
*John Tenniel (who also illustrated "Alice in Wonderland")
*Norman Thelwell
*Bill Tidy (who attempted to buy Punch when it went out of publication)
*Trog (Wally Fawkes)
*E A Worthington

Notable authors who contributed at one time or another include Kingsley Amis, Alex Atkinson, John Betjeman, Willard R. Espy, A.P. Herbert, Thomas Hood, Douglas William Jerrold (1841-1857), James Leavey, George du Maurier, George Melly, John McCrae, A.A. Milne, Anthony Powell, W.C. Sellar and R.J. Yeatman, William Makepeace Thackeray, Sir Henry Lucy, John Hollingshead, Artemus Ward, Somerset Maugham, P.G. Wodehouse, Keith Waterhouse, Quentin Crisp, Olivia Manning, Sylvia Plath, Joyce Grenfell, E.M. Delafield, Stevie Smith, Virginia Graham, Joan Bakewell, Penelope Fitzgerald, Peter Dickinson.


External links

* [http://www.punch.co.uk/ "Punch" cartoon library] , including a history of the magazine
* [http://www.punchcartoons.com Gallery of Punch cartoons at Punchcartoons.com]
* [http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Punch_%28Bookshelf%29 List of issues available on-line] from Project Gutenberg
*gutenberg author| id=Punch | name="Mr. Punch"
* [http://www.bl.uk/puncharchive.html Mr Punch at the British Library] , an article from the British Library website
* [http://www.john-leech-archive.org.uk/ John Leech Sketch archives from "Punch"] , a fan's website with more than 600 of Leech's sketches
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/2015639.stm "Punch" magazine to fold] , a May 2002 BBC article
*" [http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/23881 The History of "Punch"] " by M.H. Spielmann, 1895, from Project Gutenberg

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