Tatler was started as a weekly society and gossip magazine in 1901, and has had its ups and downs with popularity. After weathering a scandal in the mid 70s in which the editor admitted to routinely falsifying the magazine’s circulation data, the rapidly flat-lining magazine was taken over by Tina Brown. Brown, who went on to be editor of the American Vanity Fair in the 80s and 90s, is credited with revitalizing the magazine with a newer and hipper focus on more than just updates on stuffy members of the peerage, bringing real fashion and entertainment to the brand as well as a more satirical edge when concerning aristocrats. Being a child of the 90s, I mostly associate Tatler with Princess Diana. They seemed to be the number one source of British Royal coverage that People and Entertainment Tonight sourced whenever breaking the news about the dress she wore when going outside on a Wednesday and if it matched her shoes. Looking over Tina Brown’s career and seeing that she was Princess Diana’s #1 media ally from the moment she was introduced to the public, it now seems hardly surprising.
During this period, it was called The Tatler and Bystander because it had absorbed the latter tabloid publication. For what it’s worth, here’s what the cover of Tatler looked like in November 2017.
Look at all those good puppers. There is an extensive explanation in the contents section that details why the men in this hunting party are wearing green instead of red that I find hilariously pedantic.
I’m afraid a lot of the pictures came out a little blurry, so if you don’t already employ the workaround of opening the picture in a new tab and then deleting the extra text after .jpg to make the photos clearer (WordPress auto-compresses large images for your loading convenience, at the cost of making things extra ugly), you may want to make good use of it this week.
Something you may notice as you’re going through this issue is that the models don’t really smile. At best, they smirk in either a come hither smirk or a “you don’t have enough money to be in the same room as me” smirk. There’s also the “why the fuck is there a camera pointed at me” look. No big toothy Marilyn Monroe grins here.
It’s November, and we got ads to sell, so it’s fursapalooza in this issue. This model has some fabulous legs, and probably great core strength, because this coat looks extremely heavy.
There came a time when Miss Clemence Bettany apparently pissed off Vidal Sassoon, so he personally gave her a very stupid haircut. Don’t worry, National Fur Company has plenty of equally awful hats to hide under until it grows out!
You see, the green livery that the hunting party on the cover are wearing is from the Heythrop hunting society, while usually they wear red (which here is called pink), but here they’re honoring the Duke of Beaufort’s hunting society because Heythrop derives from Beaufort and oh my god who cares.
This is the style of periodical where the page numbers are continued from the previous issue (“continuous pagination”, if you want to sound fancy), so by the end of the year we’re starting on page 324. Magazines don’t really do this anymore, from what I’ve seen, except the occasional academic journal.
Ugh, why would we publish your stupid common letters? It’s exhausting! No we aren’t going to make our food critic eat British restaurant food every day! No you can’t buy collected volumes of our cartoons! No you can’t stalk the hot blonde from last month’s issue! No we’re not going to write reviews of frickin’ Chopin! What is there left to say about Chopin! We’re writing about jazz and you’re going to like it!
“Graham’s Briggs cartoon” refers to a comic called Briggs the Butler by Alex Graham (creator of the Fred Basset comic strip). It is about a butler who is a grumpy asshole. Hilarious! This month’s Briggs leaves me unimpressed, so I went and found the only one I could that may have been remotely funny.
Ha ha! See! He tried to get out of doing something by passing it off to someone else, and then that person passed his job off back to him! Oh my sides! Oh! It’s simply too much! That Briggs!
Some fun things to go out and rattle your jewelry at, as long as you have the cash to get in (under the pretense of supporting charity, of course). The Queen Mother is going to be at a charity matinee of something called “The Amorous Prawn”, doesn’t that sound amazing? The admission costs for most of these events are in guineas, because apparently that read as a much higher class denomination of money instead of pounds or shillings. I briefly entertained the idea of figuring out what 3 guineas in 1960 was the equivalent of in 2018 euros and then convert that to US dollars and immediately I just burst into tears, so you’re just going to have to go with a guinea being a good chunk of change in England in 1960.
Truffaut and his wife look adorable together, and that icy street looks deadly. They cling to each other for dear life, knowing that the first to go down will be eaten by the pigeons.
Book your Christmas getaway to Nice, France, which I was glazing over a bit at the descriptions of hotels until I got to the part where the waiters at the Pirate restaurant are all dressed up as pirates and cook your steak on a sword, then give the lady of the party a ride on a donkey back to the hotel. Wow! Sadly this restaurant does not seem to be around today. There is a restaurant in Nice called Le Pirate today, but it’s some boring bistro that does not have swashbuckling waiters or donkey rides. Not worth it.
As for the restaurant reviews, I sure would be interested in a restaurant that has been designed to make me look pretty.
This month’s Briggs: ha ha! The child is better at billiards than the old man! I say! Cracking good work Graham! Where can I find a whole book of these, Tatler?
I don’t think it was very smart to have an elephant named Jumbo with come-hither-get-murdered eyes as the mascot of your beauty salon, but maybe that’s just me.
I am so down for the “wooziest tipsy cakes” at The Bridge. OUR CAKE WILL GET YOU WASTED AS ENGLISHLY AS POSSIBLE.
Get absorbed in fantasy vacation writing with this really wonderful review of Majorca. I know I would enjoy a dry martini with Miss Petersen in the bar with a little gentle record player at the moment. Now multiply that sentiment times the strength of November in London in 1960. Sounds great, right?
What are you doing in my house? What? No you can’t have my Lanvin Castillo mutant fur! It was chosen for me in Paris! Get out of here! Get out of here right now or I’ll call the police!
Alas, I did a frankly embarrassing amount of digging on these society people via Burke’s Peerage and found nothing terribly interesting about any of them (except that nearly all of them divorced within the next decade). They all look genuinely happy, though, don’t they? Particularly Thomas and Grizelda. I bet they made cute kids.
Copy writers don’t really have to do much when this whole magazine is basically a tacit love letter to the classiest functioning alcoholics on earth.
Perfection from America! Well, actually Canada, but if you can buy it from Bloomingdales in Manhattan!
“Oh god, what have I done, this is my life now? This is my life now. This is the rest of my life. Oh god, oh god”. Happy anniversary you lovebirds!
Here’s a jolly little tidbit about her husband Henry’s last days, from Wikipedia:
Henry’s first stroke was in 1965 while he and his wife, Alice, were returning from Winston Churchill‘s funeral ceremony in their vehicle which resulted in a car crash.This, together with later strokes, left him dependent on a wheelchair, and he was unable to speak in his last remaining years. His last public appearance was at the unveiling of Queen Mary’s plaque at Marlborough House in 1967, where he appeared weak and considerably older than the Duke of Windsor. In 1972, the Duke’s elder son, Prince William, died in a plane crash. The Duke was in such poor health that his wife hesitated about whether to tell him. She later admitted in her memoirs that she did not, but that he may have learned of their son’s death from television coverage.
Which is the most Cartoonishly British Royal thing I’ve heard in ages.
Lady Clanmorris is giving excellent “what the fuck is a camera doing here” face.
Check out adorable Susie Murray, who looks a bit like Emma Watson. Susie Murray is just “from Dorset”, but her buddy Susie Orde has grandparents in the peerage. I want to write SO MANY fanfics about Susie and Susie living the swingin’ sixties together.
The writer of this piece is a delightful asshole.
Look! Rich people standing in a muddy field, holding guns! They look like the cast of an Agatha Christie mystery. Who Shot Colonel Stirling?
Meanwhile, in Lincolnshire…Mrs. Peter Campbell masters the “oh god, what is my life” face, and people eat a lot of partridges full of buckshot.
Lady Birdwood was…kind of a monster. At this period in 1960 her husband was still alive and quite an active do-gooder. While nothing is ever so simply cut and dry as “beautiful evil woman marries nice rich and politically influential man, shows her true colors as a Nazi supervillain immediately upon his death”…that kind of seems to be what happened.
Oh god. I love this to death. You’re a sheltered girl from a well-off British family, and your mother has completely fucked you up in the head as to how to adapt to living in London in 1960. It’s dawning on you fast that men are disgusting pigs who are obsessed with getting into your fancy ladypants, and you don’t want this. How do you make a man leave you alone?
A) Agree to go on a date with him and never. stop. talking. About anything. About things that piss him off. About the history of the Royal College of Physicians. Just keep making noise at him. Make sure you choose a restaurant where the service is glacially slow, so that you have extra time to keep talking. Take lots of bathroom breaks. Bribe the waiter to make the service slower. Order coffee, dessert, a cigar. Smoke it aggressively in a mannish fashion and keep talking. Dinner’s over, four hours later? Drag him to a chip shop and keep talking.
B) Invite him over for dinner at your place. Invent something wrong with the dinner you just cooked and throw the whole thing out, then send him to the grocery store for more ingredients. Start over again with a recipe that takes six hours to cook, and the whole time obsessively clean the kitchen, including boiling the towels.
C) Just burst into random hysterical screams of laughter, repeating back everything the man says; alternatively, ask the man how many times he’s tried to kill himself lately.
D) Kick him down the stairs.
Pamela Vandyke Price had a long career of writing about food and wine, and appears to have been an absolute hoot.
*slurred Edina Monsoon voice* Go on darling fetch that bottle of Haig, I haven’t tasted bloody fruitcake since Thatcher.
Secrets to beautiful English skin: take shots of lemon juice in the morning, eat food.
The article didn’t photograph well, and honestly it wasn’t all that interesting unless you really dig modern sculpture, but I’m keeping this in because I really enjoy the composition and texture in this photo.
Time to lose ourselves in fabulous furs and shocking casual racism!
Yeah, you read that description right. There’s a lot I’ve learned from doing intensive studies of these old magazines over the last year, and one of the main things that I have had driven into me is this: things were so much more casually racist than you’ll ever believe.
I’m sure it was very daring to pose everyone on unfinished planks of wood. These all give me shades of that episode of Mad Men where Betty Draper wears that big houndstooth overcoat to the squalid hippie tenement. Look at us! We’re slumming it!
The whole “burning down the forest” theme is a strange one, but they all look good, particularly the model serving face as a giant camelhair mitten, so let’s go with it.
I enjoy the description of “mushroom colored” as a selling point for carpet.
Noel Coward’s first and only novel!
As for Command Decisions, after seemingly every deep dig into the history of a British aristocrat during this era turns into their being revealed as a Nazi sympathizer, I am not all that interested in any of the books of World War II history written by rich white British people anymore.
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning is pretty good.
The reviewer’s glowing opinion: “He is no member of the ‘beat’ generation, of which I am heartily sick.”
The Alamo gets a measly one paragraph of review, which I find hilarious.
Beat Girl is on YouTube, as is Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, and you really should check them out. If for no other reason, the fact that the title character from Beat Girl is described as a “spoiled little chit” and “odious brat” by this posh reviewer should be enough to get you interested. It’s straight from the fridge, daddy-o. (And a young hot Christopher Lee plays a sleazy strip club owner!)
As for the Lancome ad, I want to run away from home and become a go go dancer named Maggie Maquivit.
Nicely done, layout editor.
Husbands can use this shampoo too! What craziness is this?
There isn’t much color in this magazine, but surprise surprise most of it goes towards liquor ads.
We start off with some basic endive dressed with oil and vinegar and somehow along the way end up with endives wrapped in ham and covered with cheese sauce and bacon and hard boiled eggs. At least there’s no mention of gelatin.
I don’t care how many ice-rinks and orchestras your Swiss hotel has, if there aren’t pirates flinging steak at me from swords and offering me a donkey ride back to the hotel I’m not interested.
High Fidelity lady’s dress is cute as hell and I want it.
I wish we had organizations with names like “Distressed Gentlefolk’s Aid Association”. Look at how cute that elderly gentlewoman is, I’d give her a guinea.
I at first thought the Chilprufe underclothes were meant to be read as “child-proof”, and wondered if they were pushing some kind of chastity garment/contraceptive knickers. Oh, no, nevermind, it’s just a really terrible name for underwear. Chilprufe days are here again!
This issue may as well have come soaked in gin.
Love that centerpiece brooch.
Tabu: the official perfume of sexual assault!
If you’re in the market for: paying off your tuition, a wig, curing a stammer, YOUR DAUGHTER finding a job, a house in Cannes, Johnny and his car, Rhodesia, a kilt, a pig, a personal fur stylist, some random portraits of random children, and so much more, we’ve got you covered!
I wonder if British people took bottles of Tia Maria and Tio Pepe and made them talk to each other when they were wasted. Or maybe it could be used as a code word, like “Mother cannot come to the phone right now, she is entertaining her distant uncle Jose and his wife Maria, who have just returned from Spain”.
That’s it for this week! Thanks for reading as always. We’re sticking around in swingin’ London for another week, as next week we will be looking at Town, a similar magazine to Tatler but more overtly marketed to men, which means lots of leather shoes and…more gin.
Town, November 1963!