Cheshire Life, 1934-39: The birth of the modern county magazine

Hobbs, Andrew orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-5943-475X (2023) Cheshire Life, 1934-39: The birth of the modern county magazine. Manchester Region History Review, 2 . pp. 51-69.

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This article describes the birth of one of Britain’s most successful regional magazines, Cheshire Life, in 1934, in the context of the economic and social changes of the times, analysing it as a media product and historical source. Cheshire Life is part of a publishing genre, the county and regional magazine, which includes some 65 titles across England, with a monthly readership in the millions. This significant readership alone makes it worthy of academic study. But magazines like Cheshire Life can tell us about county identities and their history, attitudes to the countryside, the relationship between social class and sense of place, the changing role of the country house, countryside and nature writing and publishing, landscape photography and the broader regional media ecology. The magazine began as the mouthpiece for an economic development council during the Depression, but came under new ownership in 1935, leading to rapid and significant changes in its content and fortunes. The new publisher, Christopher Nicholls, had a huge influence on Cheshire Life and on county magazines as a genre, setting a template which is still in use today. Nicholls successfully created an advertising vehicle which grew fat on the 1930s consumer advertising boom, filled with photographs and other editorial benefiting from the cachet of the county set. The decline of the gentry as political and economic leaders can be seen in the magazine, but their social world of ‘county society’ lived on, eagerly adopted by a segment of the rising middle class.

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