Monday, 7 September 2009

A short history (continued)

Selling at just a penny, and "selling like hot-cakes" the BOP was trumping its less respected rivals, but what made it so popular? With an original intention to contain strong moral and religious guidance, one would hardly expect such a powerful impact on young people. A major player in the success of the paper was its "acting editor," George Andrew Hutchison (1841-1913) who when appointed stated that it would do well as long as it "appealed to boys and not their grandmothers." Although eschewing the "pernicious literature" of the penny dreadful and answering to a deeply Christian commitee, Hutchison managed to publish many pieces of outrageous and sensational fiction. For example, the two part adventure Nearly Eaten appeared in March, 1884, a tale of a kindly professor replete with butterfly net escaping from a tribe of cannibalistic Voodoo lovers.

The BOP went from strength to strength through the Victorian and Edwardian period up to the First World War (1914-18) and had an offspring in the shape of Girl's Own Paper. The initial BOP had advertising on its outer covers and page one as well as containing a masthead, designed by Edward Whymper, featured the main fiction serial and an illustration. Every year an annual compilation of all 52 weeklies could be purchased with the addition of several beautiful colour plates. Many children created the annuals themselves, buying large binders from the publishers and still having the opportunity to buy the additional plates. Seasonal special editions were released in the Summer and at Christmas all maintaining the winning formula of fiction, non-fiction,competitions and correspondence. In the 20th century the BOP started to have full page illustrated front covers reflecting interests, values and the British Empire.

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