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EL2055 Literature, Print and Society in Comparative Contexts Guide: PSR

A guide to library and learning resources for student of Literature, Print and Society in Comparative Contexts.

PSR 1: Primary Source Report on MAN Magazine April 1937 Issue


What can you find out about the circulation of the magazine? How would you characterise the circulation--was it limited, or popular? Can you find out if that was considered expensive?

Man magazine was first published in 1936 as a monthly publication costing two shillings. As of April 1937 (vol. 1, no. 5), the circulation, which is explicitly mentioned on the editorial page, was at 14,000. According to editorial comments in subsequent runs of magazine, circulation continued to increase throughout the years to approximately 100,000 by 1946.


Does the magazine have the same editor for a range of time? Can you find out anything about this person? What is her or her background, education, training? If the editor writes for the magazine, what kind of things does he/she write?

The editor of the magazine (from 1936-1955) was Frank S. Greenop who had a wide range of literary tastes evident from his bibliography on AustLit, which included children’s picture books, books of verse, short stories, historical fiction, science fiction and his non-fiction work, the History of Magazine Publishing in Australia (1947).

Implied Reader

After studying thoroughly a single issue of the magazine--ads, articles, stories, everything--consider its target reader implied by the magazine’s contents: age, sex, economic class, intellectual class, race, political position, and anything else that seems important.

The international affairs section suggests an aspirational, perhaps middle-class readership interested in cultural, political and social issues, perhaps a readership of ex-servicemen. Working-class urban men and businessmen seem to be the target of the ads. Relations between the sexes and the nations of the world take up a lot of content.

As well as providing educational information, however, such as the world affairs section, the magazine is full of entertainment. The tone, cover, and pictures are risqué, and suggests a young, white male reader who sees women as his playthings and the world at his command, but who is perhaps also threatened by the changing world order.


a. In a single issue, what kind of content gets the most pages (creative: fiction, poetry, drama, visual art, music/ critical: cultural, aesthetic, social, political/ informative: travel, biography, history, news).

The largest proportion of the magazine includes articles on world affairs, world politics, social commentary, history and relationships between the sexes from a predominantly male point of view. There is also an interesting juxtaposition of serious reading and humour.

On the one hand, J. M. Prentice’s seven-page feature, “International Affairs”, details international politics and the threat of a major worldwide conflict, on the other, thirty-three full-page cartoons provide mostly provocative and humorous depictions of scantily clad women in different situations.

The largest single feature of the magazine is Phillip Lewis’s “Fashion” notes. In these ten pages, Lewis discusses the latest in men’s fashion and accessories, and this is supplemented by advertisements of men’s fashion retailers and accessories. These notes seem to reference fashions from overseas, predominantly in London, in “The London Letter” but also in Europe and America.

The fiction in the magazine also covers international locations, often with some reference to other colonies or Dominions (e.g. Shanghai Interlude” by C. Swinbourne; “Bloody Congo” by Browning Thompson). The fiction in the magazine also affirms a male readership: for instance, “The Trap” by Erle Wilson describes a hunting expedition in the Canadian woods, and there is a series by Borden Chase called “Confession in Crime” which tells the violent and graphic story of an American gangster.

b. Advertising: Ratio of advertising to other aspects of the text. What kind of advertising gets the most space? Anything else significant about advertising?

Of the one hundred pages in this issue, twenty advertisements are incorporated. These include the two most prominent full-page ads at the beginning of the issue--for Edison Spark Plugs and Amalgamated Wireless.

Both prominent ads contain images of the world--for instance Edison shows a globe, and Amalgamated shows a bridge connecting Australia to England, suggesting that radio spans this distance. Technology ads expand to car parts, motor oil, and car sales. An “Editorial Note” (p.9) suggests that there will be an upcoming special section on “The 1937 Cars.” These suggest that mobility is a big theme in this magazine.

Alcohol is also advertised, for instance “Toohey’s Oatmeal Stout” and “Wines and Spirits for the Discriminating” (p.7). Readers seem to want to be thought of as sophisticated. An advertisement for the “Langridge School of Physical Culture” in Sydney fit out with a “new squash rackets court” contains the copy “Better health means bigger business” (p.75).

A prominent full-page anti-war propaganda ad also appears (p.8).

c. If the magazine attends to social, political, or cultural issues, is there anything that helps you describe its position?

As discussed above, there seems to be an anti-war stance, the magazine seems to consider itself worldly and progressive. Mobility and new technology feature throughout this magazine. However, the magazine seems to contain a lot of images of naked women, and of ethnic “others” often portrayed in ways we would now consider firmly racist and sexist.


How many average pages per issue? Did it use colour? How much? Photography? How much? How are images used? Do they illustrate stories or article? If there are illustrations, how do they make the magazine feel?

MAN was a monthly magazine, of a 100 pages, which is large for its time. It appears lavishly produced, featuring a colour cover at a time when the weekly magazines were still mostly black and white.

There is a large percentage of drawn images, for illustration, advertising, and entertainment. Genre stories are illustrated, often choosing action scenes to pull the reader in. Many cartoons contain risqué images--and are signed by artists like Such. This gives the magazine a sense that it is pushing boundaries for its time. There are black and white photographs, some suggesting artistic aspirations. The magazine seems contain a mix of serious information and art as well as playful entertainment.

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