English Children's Periodicals: Chums

Figure 1.--"Chums" was full of exiting stories with wonderful illustrations like this one from an 1894 issue. Not all the stories were realistic mind you. Schoo stories were a regukar feature. I am not sure who the illustrator was here. The caption read, "Gripping the bat, and prepared to fight for it."

Chums was another important periodical paper aimed at boys. Chums was another well English known boys' publication. The publication was founded by Cassell and Co., London in 1892. It included wonderfully illustrated thrilling adventure stories about animals, people and sports which of course encouraged boys to be good, honourable, moral and respectable. It was also full of school stories--almost always set in public (exclusive private) schools especially boarding schools. Chums also included cartoons which conveyed inspurational moralistic messages entreating one to "be honorable", "don't quarrel" and "respect your elders". It was another good, wholesome and well-illustrated journal that was thought by many to be the best available. It stressed the merits of outdoor activities and incorporated good, solid middle-class values into its stories. Heroes were invariably stoutly stalwart and manly and always triumphant over dastardly rotters and cads. Boys in middle class families subscribed to Chums and even those that did not subscribe could borrow the copues or trade old copies with their mates. It was full of adventure stories. The publishers took an interest in youth groups and at first began working with Baden Powell. Publishing conflicts developed and Chums turned away from Baden-Powell's Scout Association. There even appeared snide references to Scouting in the publication. A cartoon with Waggles, a regular character in the oublication, made fun of Boy Scouts and referred to the "funny hat". A comment under the cartoon read "Scouting is all right if it wasn't for the clothes" [Chums Vol. Issue No. 842. p. 136.] Chums began promoting the British Boys' Naval Brigade, which became the National Naval Cadets. The editor soon realized, however, just how popular Boy Scouting was becoming--when the publisher's own som became a Scout, although I am not sure just what group he joined. Chums in May 1909 became the Official Journal for the British Boy Scouts--the rival association which challenged Baden Powell's Scout Association. As Chums was an extremely popular publication, this posed a very serious challenge. As Chums had an extensive following in Britain's overseas Dominions, the BBS actually begin to outdo Baden Powell's Scouts overseas. We also notice the Legion of Frontiersmen mentioned in Chums, but know nothing about this group.

Christopher Wagner

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Created: December 23, 2002
Last updated: December 23, 2002