From the Queen to the Queen Vic: 'The Lady' selects its leading ladies

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

When Boris Johnson's sister, Rachel, assumed the editorship of The Lady promising to double the tiny circulation of the venerable publication in a year or die trying, she knew that the shock waves from her cultural revolution would get the teacups rattling in the parlours of the nation's gentlefolk.

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, catching the eye of a new breed of Range Rover-driving, quinoa-munching reader from her own Notting Hill set, while still hanging on to the subscriptions of the Stannah stairlift-riding generation of the counties, has proved a problematic juggling act.

Only last month, she admitted to being bombarded with lavender-scented handwritten letters from disgruntled readers, admitting to diners at a magazine lunch that mistakes had been made. Articles giving tips on the etiquette of bedding your child's nanny, and encouraging pet owners to adorn their beloved dogs with knitted Christmas antlers, generated splutters of disbelief from lovers of England's oldest weekly women's magazine.

But with the latest circulation figures showing a near-10 per cent rise in sales, the revolution continues apace today with the publication of a list to mark 125 years of loyal service to the waited-on classes with an uncompromisingly modern roll call honouring the magazine's new role models, "Ladies of Today".

For a publication which once eschewed offering weekend trips as competition prizes (allegedly out of fear that they may be won by philandering couples), there is a refreshingly racy collection of women included. The controversial artist Tracey Emin, whose most famous works include the menstrual blood-stained My Bed and an appliquéd tent entitled Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963-95, is included, as is Jacqueline Gold, the chief executive of the lingerie chain Ann Summers.

Alongside heartland pin-ups such as the Queen and the Duchess of Cornwall, Ms Johnson's panel has included the former Hot Gossip creator and ousted Strictly Come Dancing judge Arlene Phillips. Among the representatives from politics, activism and journalism, the EastEnders actress Barbara Windsor is honoured. And in another nod to the changing sensitivities of the times for a publication more associated with grouse moors than global warming, so is Caroline Lucas, the Green MEP.

Ms Johnson said: "A distinguished panel at The Lady and beyond put their heads together and after many weeks of lively, free and frank (ie vicious) argument, settled on the 125 women we regard as Ladies of Today.

"This is not a scientific list, nor are these your usual run of females; we haven't chosen them for their looks/vital statistics/reality TV careers, but because we think these are women who think not, 'What can I get out of this?' but 'What can I put in?'"

Other names included on the list are the veteran singer Dame Shirley Bassey, the new Poet Laureate, Carol Anne Duffy, as well as the "golden oldie" newsreader Moira Stuart. Also selected were Elizabeth Wilmshurst, the former Foreign Office legal adviser who resigned in protest at the decision to go to war in Iraq, and the Gurkhas champion Joanna Lumley.

The new publisher who appointed Johnson in her first editor's job – making her only The Lady's ninth chief – was Ben Budworth, the great-grandson of its founder, Thomas Gibson Bowles. Despite the long-term dwindling readership currently hovering around 30,000, the new management team see a glittering future for the trusted brand – said to be the Queen's favoured read – with plans to roll out into other services such as insurance and travel.

Class act: The glossy for the gentry

Founded 125 years ago by Thomas Gibson Bowles – a colourful Tory MP, grandfather of the Mitford sisters, and who launched Vanity Fair – The Lady has long straddled the class divide. It seeks to appeal both to those seeking employment as, and those requiring the services of, domestic help. The Royal Family has been a loyal advertiser, but social changes have eroded its traditional readership since the Edwardian heyday epitomised in Upstairs, Downstairs. While working within the magazine's labyrinthine building, Stella Gibbons wrote Cold Comfort Farm, and Nancy Mitford was another contributor. Today it is in the hands of the founder's great-grandson, a former radio station boss who has brought full colour to its pages, adding a website and installing a well-connected, high- profile journalist as editor.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

Ashdown Group: Analyst Programmer (Filemaker Pro/ SQL) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days, pension, private medical : Ashdown Group: A highly...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - Chessington

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Service Desk Analyst - Chessington, Surrey...

Charter Selection: Graphic Designer, Guildford

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Charter Selection: This renowned and well establish...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas