In Memoriam: Laurie Purden MBE

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.

Laurie Purden MBE

Doyenne of the golden age of women’s magazines, Laurie Purden was Editor-in-Chief of Good Housekeeping, Woman’s Journal and Woman & Home.

Girl Issue 1 Volume 1
Girl Issue 1 Volume 1

“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.

Housewife was launched by Hulton, publishers of the phenomenally successful Lilliput and Picture Post, just before the World War Two. It was a competitor to Good Housekeeping, which it overtook in sales in the 1950s
Housewife was launched by Hulton, publishers of the phenomenally successful Lilliput and Picture Post, just before the World War Two. It was a competitor to Good Housekeeping, which it overtook in sales in the 1950s

“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)

MagForum: Laurie Purden – grande dame of women’s magazines, tribute by Wendy James, (28th October 2022)

MagForum: Laurie Purden and the women who make magazines, by Wendy James

Buy Living with Eagles by Sally Morris and Jan Hallwood (AmazonUK Affiliate Link)

The British Journalism Review Book Reviews: The unpredictable priest-in-charge: by Sally Morris and Jan Hallwood – review by Laurie Purden (subscription required)

Blue Plaques UK: Marcus Morris

Great Yarmouth Mercury: Blue plaque celebrates life of Mary’s Morris, comic legend and town reverend (9th September 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

Great Yarmouth Local History & Archaeological Society – Blue Plaque Page

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

The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Explorer (previously known as Star Trek Magazine) and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of "Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies" for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.

Categories: British Comics, Comics, downthetubes News, Features, Obituaries

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