New Idea first edition coverAustralia’s oldest women’s magazine was launched by Thomas Shaw Fitchett as The New Idea—A Women’s Home Journal for Australia. Its cookery columns have influenced generations of Australians.

The first issue of New Idea concerned itself with much more than cookery, with articles on women’s suffrage and on Australia’s Dame Nellie Melba. Other articles dealt with fashion and health. Despite acknowledging the feminist movement, the magazine was promoted initially with the cry “Men! Buy this issue for your wives”.

New Idea cookbook 1910In 1911, the name of the magazine was changed to Everylady’s journal but in 1928 it was changed back to New Idea. Fitchett Brothers published a range of magazines and books.  . Among them was the new and enlarged edition of the New Idea Cook Book, titled Everylady’s Cook Book. It was published around 1911,  when the craze for paper bag cookery was at its height. The cover picture is truly alarming. What is that baby doing with that knife?

Fitchett Brothers subsequently adopted the name Southdown Press. In the 1930s  they published a range of comics, including the Australian editions of Buck Rogers. Southdown was acquired by Keith Murdoch just after WWII and, on his death in 1952, became part of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire. 

Murdoch sold Southdown to finance his purchase of News of the World. New Idea is now published by Pacific Magazines.