The Home (1920-42)

The Home covers

Anyone who takes the time to browses through the Home magazine – or devour each issue from cover to cover – will find it a rich resource, offering hours of reading pleasure as did its original subscribers. 

The Home: the Australian Journal of Quality was the first locally produced women’s magazine to emulate imported society magazines of the stylish North American Conde Nast publishing stable. Launched in 1920 by Sydney Ure Smith (1887-1949), this prestigious and trend-setting quarterly publication produced nearly 230 issues during its 23-year print run. Published in Sydney by Art in Australia Ltd (1920-34) and John Fairfax & Sons (1935-42), with Bertram Stevens (1889-1973) as inaugural editor, from 1922 Ure Smith and Leon Gellert (1892-1977) assumed co-editorship.

Always far more than a fashion magazine, the Home promoted a modern lifestyle to the monied classes, many of whom appeared on its pages, promising its readers that they would never be old-fashioned or ordinary. With an annual subscription price of £0.10.6, the Home targeted the smart set and those who aspired to it, aiming to position its local readership within their international context. The Home’s high production values, quality art paper, layout and typography distinguished it from all other Australian periodicals. It offered lavishly illustrated feature articles, full of sought-after information which encouraged cover-to-cover reading across five main subject areas: domestic architecture, interior decoration, garden design and the art of living, fashion and feminine adornment. Middle class readers, upon whom the Home’s circulation and advertising impact depended, also valued its instructional content and taste-making edicts.

Never a literary magazine, the Home did however publish works by many leading Australian writers including David Unaipon (1872-1967). It also commissioned visually alluring graphic design from innovative local commercial artists like Hera Roberts (1892-1969), who contributed over 50 covers. Prominent camera artists, including staff photographer Harold Cazneaux (1878-1953), created eye-catching advertisements and captured the comings and goings of stylishly clad socialites. As advertising became an increasingly lucrative extension of magazine content, photography gained primacy over illustration, and the Home showcased the work of young innovators like Russell Roberts (1904-1999) and Max Dupain (1911-1992).

By 1928, the Home started turning towards the mass market, seeking wider readership as economic recession began to bight. With circulation at around 7000, dress and knitting patterns featured regularly and the inclusion of recipes boosted advertising revenue from 1932. Looking to challenge the market share of rival imported and local titles like Vogue (1909-   ) and Fashion and Society (1929-49), in 1934 Art in Australia Ltd was bought by John Fairfax & Sons Ltd. Ure Smith retained co-editorship of the Home until 1938, when his departure instigated a discernible change in the magazine’s style. Leon Gellert continued as sole editor until the Home ceased publication in 1942. 

Digitisation of the Home magazine via TROVE places this stunning mid-century periodical at the fingertips of readers and researchers everywhere for the first time. Anyone who takes the time to browses its pages – or peruse each issue from cover to cover – will find it a rich resource, offering hours of reading pleasure as did the Home’s original subscribers. 

This title has been digitised and made fully searchable online as part of the State Library's Digital Excellence Program, a major initiative supported by the NSW Government.

 

REF: R. Holden, Cover up : the art of magazine covers in Australia (1995) Sydney : Hodder & Stoughton. 

IMAGES: left to right

The Home: an Australian quarterly. Vol. 1 No. 1 (1 February 1920) 

The Home: an Australian quarterly. Vol. 7 No. 3 (1 March 1926) 

The Home: an Australian quarterly. Vol. 8 No. 10 (1 October 1927) 

The Home: an Australian quarterly. Vol. 10 No. 6 (1 June 1929) 

The Home: an Australian quarterly. Vol. 11 No. 7 (1 July 1930) 

The Home: an Australian quarterly. Vol. 12 No. 2 (2 February 1931) 

The Home: an Australian quarterly. Vol. 13 No. 5 (2 May 1932) 

The Home: an Australian quarterly. Vol. 13 No. 7 (1 July 1932) 

The Home: an Australian quarterly. Vol. 15 No. 1 (2 January 1934)

The Home: an Australian quarterly. Vol. 17 No.7 (1 July 1936) 

The Home: an Australian quarterly. Vol. 18 No. 1 (2 January 1937) 

The Home: an Australian quarterly. Vol. 23 No. 9 (1 September 1942) 

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