The Boy’s Own Paper was a long-running (1879-1967) magazine that, in some ways, helped to establish and perpetuate the essence of the British schoolboy. Originally, its purpose was educative and it never really lost this function. Science, history, sport and geography featured heavily in its stories and articles, but there was always a healthy dose of adventure and escapism.
The 1950s was perhaps the height of its popularity. Interaction between the editor and readers was common, with schoolboys all over the world writing letters full of questions or observations about their world. These exchanges are often delightful, and provide a delightful insight into a long-ago world.
R. Wilmot of New Malden in Surrey wrote: ‘Most boys like to think they have a girl friend, especially the 13 to 14 year olds. I would like to see an article on how to get a girl, and when you’ve got her, how to keep and please her. I would also like to see more articles on music in B.O.P as I am a trombonist in the Tiffin School Band.’
The Editor’s reply is priceless: ‘We will bear the suggestion for an article on how to keep a girl friend in mind ! In the meantime there is an article on keeping Golden Hamsters on pages 34 and 35 of this issue.’