Ground-breaking women’s magazine editor Roma Laurette Kotch ‘Laurie’, Purden MBE, part of the team that worked on the hugely successful Hulton Press weekly comic Girl in the 1950s, sister title to Eagle, died peacefully on 31st August 2022, aged 93.
Doyenne of the golden age of women’s magazines, Laurie Purden was Editor-in-Chief of Good Housekeeping, Woman’s Journal and Woman & Home.
“All who worked with, or for, Laurie remember her style and class as an editor and her knack for knowing exactly what her readers wanted,” her death notice highlights.
In an obituary for The Guardian, published last month, Wendy James charts Laurie’s meteoric career, entering publishing in her mid-teens, newly qualified in shorthand and typing. She started at the publisher George Newnes, as junior secretary in the London office of the Woman’s Own editor James Drawbell.
Widow of John Keith Kotch, who died in 1979, she leaves devoted daughters Sophie and Emma, and much loved grandchildren Macy, Ned and Betsy.
“Her rise was swift: she became fiction editor of the pocket-sized Home Notes and worked on the teen magazine Girl before being made assistant editor of Woman’s Own, which, like its rival Woman, had a weekly circulation of millions.
“In 1957, she married Keith Kotch, who worked at Hulton Press, then run by Marcus Morris… He enticed Laurie to join the company to edit the glossy monthly Housewife, direct rival to Hearst’s Good Housekeeping, and she broke new ground by employing specialists such as Constance Spry (flower arranging) and Rosemary Hume (cordon bleu cookery) to provide innovative ideas and opinions.”
When Morris, who was recently celebrated with the election of a Blue Plaque in his memory in Great Yarmouth, was appointed managing director of National Magazines in 1965, Laurie went with him to Good Housekeeping, the title’s circulation soaring under her direction as editor-in-chief.
In a longer feature for MagForum, Wendy subsequently expanded: “More than one person who knew Laurie Purden called her a ‘one-off’ when I was ringing round with the sad news of her death at the end of August. She was 93. There was no one like her, that’s for sure. And during her long career she was always in the right place at the right time to use her talents – to reach out to others, to inspire, entertain and inform.”
• The Guardian: Laurie Purden obituary by Wendy James (Friday 7th October 2022)
Before embarking on the Eagle and the world of comics, its creator had been a curate in Great Yarmouth in the 1940s working for St Nicholas Church
• A Life in Magazines by Wendy James (AmazonUK Affiliate Link)
Magazines were the ‘influencers’ of the 20th Century, reaching millions of readers of all ages. There were many different types and countless numbers of people were involved in their creation. This memoir covers the experience of just one and those she worked with, from the Swinging Sixties to the Millennium.
With thanks to Norman Boyd