The People’s Friend: Sesquicentennial Celebrations at the SSC

A copy of The People’s Friend is sold somewhere in the world every 3.44 seconds. Not bad for a bespoke magazine that first hit the shelves on 13 January 1869, which has managed to cultivate a readership by promoting fiction amongst history, nature, science, recipes, games, puzzles and tips for housewives, and retain a loyal base amidst the decline in print journalism in the digital age.

Read more in The Courier feature by Caroline Lindsay

The first ever edition of The People's Friend, Jan 13, 1869

Celebrating 150 Years, The People’s Friend are hosting events throughout the year, and the Centre is delighted to host an exhibition and events, highlighting the legacy of the publication and its connection with Dundee.

From the 10 – 25 May, enjoy an Exhibition of original cover artwork and set aside the afternoon of Sat 11 May for a session exploring 150 years of writing and storytelling success which brings together The People’s Friend staff, historians and guest authors for insights. Plus, you can enjoy a special Café Voices on Thu 16 May as Dundee life and culture is explored with songs and stories from local storytellers, with contributions from the floor always encouraged.

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Alongside the celebrations, the publication is also running an exciting competition for budding artists to submit a painting for the chance to win £300 and have their artwork featured in an upcoming publication.

The distinctive cover paintings of The People’s Friend magazine are recognised across the world. British beauty spots have taken pride of place on the front of the magazine since 11 May 1946, when Edinburgh Castle featured.  Each cover is brought to life by the hands of
J. Campbell Kerr, an alias used by a small and select group of artists who create these unique illustrations in the distinctive style everyone has come to love.

A great supporter of artistic talent, every front cover since the 40s has featured an original illustration. The opportunity to give a talented up-and-coming artist the chance to have their work showcased by the world’s longest-running women’s magazine is a fitting way to celebrate their 150th anniversary.

The People’s Friend have partnered with the Robin & Eirwen Bell Trust, set up by poet and documentary writer Robin Bell in tribute to his late wife, who died from ovarian cancer in 2014 aged just fifty-five. Robin states:
My purpose is to give practical and financial encouragement to talented artists, helping them to engage with the real world of work. The People’s Friend has been brilliant in seeing the big picture and adding imaginative ideas. I’m really looking forward to seeing the entries and how artists produce creative work that fits and addresses the 338,000 audience of readers every week.

To Enter:

  • Submit a painting of a British beauty spot of your choice.
  • The painting must be original and entirely your own work.
  • It should be created by hand on paper or board using traditional methods – digitally created or modified images will not be considered.
  • Only original paintings are eligible, not prints or digital copies.

Please note they cannot return paintings submitted as entries in this competition.

Helpful Hints from Sarah Holliday, The People’s Friend Illustrations Editor:

  • A3 portrait format works best.
  • Scene must fit within the layout, so leave plenty of space at the top and bottom. The main “action” should be kept mostly to a strip in the middle of the painting.
  • Scene should be traditionally painted, but can be in any media – watercolours, acrylics, etc.
  • Consider bright, colourful scenes, and blue sky.
  • Scene can be a city, village, landscape or seascape – anything that looks attractive.
  • Scene must be in the UK.
  • Entrants should ensure that they have the copyright of the image used as a reference.

The Prize:

  • £300 generously donated by the Robin & Eirwen Bell Trust.
  • Winning illustration featured within The People’s Friend.
  • Mentored by Illustrations Editor, Sarah Holliday.
  • Considered for paid commissions for future front-cover artwork.

Judging Panel:

  • Angela Gilchrist, Editor
  • Sarah Holliday, Illustrations Editor
  • One of the current J. Campbell Kerr illustrators
  • Robin Bell


Closing Date:
Sun 30 Jun


Send Entries to:
J. Campbell Kerr Illustrator Prize, “The People’s Friend”, 2 Albert Square, Dundee DD1 1DD.


Visit The People’s Friend website for full competition terms and conditions