The Great Read




Before the advent of television, news reached people in two main ways, excluding gossip, via the radio and various press publications.

The 30s was an era when reading was widely undertaken by all those who were not entirely illiterate, this being the principal source of information.


There was a glut of newspapers, covering every colour of politics. Alas many of these have long since departed. Among the most popular daily newspapers were the following – News Chronicle, Daily Express, Daily Dispatch, Daily Mail, Daily Herald, Daily Mirror and Daily Sketch. There were times when frequently, in a bid to capture the market, various give-aways would be introduced in the form of free competitions, bargain buys and even free life insurance.

On Sundays the list was even longer – Sunday Chronicle, Sunday Dispatch, Graphic, Sunday News, Sunday Pictorial, Reynolds News, Critic Express, Times and for sports lovers, the Referee and the Sportsman. All vied with each other to bring the avid reader the latest in world coverage of news and all attempted to print the best of the photographs.

As if that was not enough, in mid week there was available a host of magazines covering every conceivable subject. Two that had great readership numbers were John Bull and Titbits.

At a local level the South Wales Evening Post, printed daily, except Sunday, gave all the current national and community news. Its sister paper, the Herald of Wales, supplied the weekend back up, with the South Wales Voice giving the daily news for those residing on the Swansea Valley.


Reading was by no means confined to the adult population. There was also a veritable stream of publications were on the market for children of all ages. These were generally split into two distinctive kinds – the comic strip paper, which was essentially in the form of illustrated features with a bare amount of writing, and the other publication which concentrated, to a large extent, on full length stories or serials.

This was a time when reading attained its peak, even if much of what was digested was pure escapism. Among this army of books and comics were the following – the Adventure, Boy’s Own, Chums, Gem and Schoolboy. Among the comics were – Bubbles, Chick’s Own, Comic Cuts, Crackers, Fairyland Tales, Chips, Mickey Mouse, Playbox, Puck, Rainbow, Sunbeam, Tiger Tim, Tip Top and Wonder. Very few of these now exist.

With so many people visiting the numerous cinemas, there was also a spate of cinematic magazines, including Film Weekly, Film Pictorial, Picture Show, Picturegoer and Cinema. In comparison, the present day publications fade into insignificance, lacking imagination, sparkle and scope. In those days, flights of fancy were calculated to boggle the imagination. In fifty years the horizons have broadened and what might have been has arrived. And, if all the above was insufficient, there still remained the public library, whose patrons included a small army of young readers who would roll up weekly and exchange their books. How things have declined today.

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