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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
Pocketmags Digital Magazines

Classified Britain

Newspaper front pages were once plastered in classified adverts, offering everything from miracle cures to the perfect job. Carole O’Reilly reads between the lines of seven small ads to explore what they can tell us about the past

4 Complements the BBC Radio 4 series classified Britain




Graphology (analysing someone’s personality through their handwriting) arrived in Britain in the 18th century and received regular publicity in magazines such as The Strand. Its appeal may be linked to the emergence of psychology as a scientific enterprise in the 19th century and an increasing desire to understand one’s self.

The study of handwriting was especially popular in France at this time, which may account for the French surname of the woman (Marie Coupelle) who placed this ad - detailed testimonials from previous clients (real or not) are included to emphasise her credentials and trustworthiness as a graphologist.

Handwriting analysis was sometimes used as a way of assessing potential employees as well as to determine veracity of forged documents and even to assist people in responding to proposals of marriage. The types of emotion it was believed could be revealed through graphology ranged from anger to sadness and despair, to jealousy and cruelty and even the existence of genius in an individual.

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About BBC History Revealed Magazine

He allegedly stole from the rich to give to the poor, wore Lincoln green and shot arrows with astonishing. But did Robin Hood actually exist? We take a closer look at the enigmatic hero and some of the medieval outlaws who may have inspired his legend Plus: The Jazz Age superstar turned French Resistance agent, Magellan’s circumnavigation of the Earth, when classified ads were front page news, three-day countdown to WWII, plus the definitive A-Z of gangs and gangsters