The Australian Women's Weekly

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The Australian Women's Weekly
Julia Gillard on the July 2010 cover
Editor-in-chiefNicole Byers
CategoriesWomen's magazines
Circulation459,175 (2013)
Founded1933; 91 years ago (1933)
CompanyAre Media[1]
New Zealand
Based inSydney
LanguageAustralian English

The Australian Women's Weekly, sometimes known as simply The Weekly, is an Australian monthly women's magazine published by Are Media in Sydney and founded in 1933.[2][3] For many years it was the number one magazine in Australia before being outsold by the Australian edition of Better Homes and Gardens in 2014.[4] As of February 2019, The Weekly has overtaken Better Homes and Gardens again, coming out on top as Australia's most read magazine.[5] The magazine invested in the 2020 film I Am Woman about Helen Reddy, singer and feminist icon.[6]

History and profile[edit]

The magazine was started in 1933 by Frank Packer and Ted Theodore as a weekly publication. The first editor was George Warnecke and the initial dummy was laid out by William Edwin Pidgeon who went on to do many famous covers over the next 25 years.[7] It was to have two distinctive features; firstly, the newspaper's features would have an element of topicality, and secondly the magazine would appeal to all Australian women, regardless of class, and have a national focus. Wanting it to appeal to a mass audience, Warnecke hoped The Weekly would be a sign that Australia finally was coming out of the Depression.[8]

In the coming decades, The Weekly became Australia's foremost publisher of light fiction, mostly from England but also Australian, and though its readership was mostly women, many men were avid readers. Australian authors who were well supported include Margot Neville, Mary Gilmore, Lennie Lower, Ross Campbell, Frank Dalby Davison and Henrietta Drake-Brockman. Australian artists who enlivened the prose included W. E. Pidgeon, Virgil Reilly and Wynne W. Davies.[9] The cartoon strip Mandrake the Magician was a longtime competitor to The Phantom in rival magazine The Australian Woman's Mirror. Both strips were the work of American cartoonist Lee Falk.

By 1961, the publication had a circulation of 800,000.[10]

The Weekly celebrated its 50th anniversary of publication in June 1983 and its 75th anniversary in the October 2008 issue. Publishing and Broadcasting Limited (PBL) launched Women's Weekly versions in Singapore (1997) and Malaysia in 2000. The magazine in each country follows the Australian Weekly's writing style, while its content is idiosyncratic to the country. In 2012 the parent company of the magazine, ACP Magazines, a subsidiary of Nine Entertainment, was acquired by the Bauer Media Group.[11][12] Audited circulation under Nene King was 980,000. The 60th anniversary edition sold in excess of one-million. Audited circulation in June 2013 was 459,175 copies monthly.[13] Readership numbers for September 2014 were estimated to be 1,828,000.[4]

In mid-June 2020, the Sydney–based investment company Mercury Capital acquired The Australian Women's Weekly as part of its acquisition of Bauer Media's Australian and New Zealand magazine brands.[2][3] In late September 2020, Mercury Capital rebranded Bauer Media as Are Media, which took over publication of the Woman's Weekly.[14][1]

Cultural impact[edit]

The overall popularity of the magazine between the 1930s–1980s meant that articles and advertisements published in it were widely read across Australia, not only by women, but men as well.[15] The magazine's power to influence and shape culture across the nation intersected with the rise of various women's and parenting issues. In a review of issues published between the 1930s–1980s, historians have argued that The Australian Women's Weekly promoted school uniforms for children at a time when school uniforms were not mandatory across the country.[16] This promotion, mainly through targeted coverage of school aged children, shaped views of motherhood and child-rearing throughout Australia. Publications in the magazine focused on products, children's fashion, and celebrity children continue to shape readers views of motherhood and child-rearing.

Format and frequency[edit]

The magazine is usually 240 pages long and printed on glossy paper trimmed to A4 page size, although it was originally a tabloid in size and layout. It typically contains feature articles about the modern Australian woman. For many years, it included a lift-out TV guide.

In 1982, publication frequency was reduced from weekly to monthly.[17] "Weekly" was retained in the name for reasons of familiarity and because a woman's "monthly" was a slang term for menstruation. The final weekly edition was dated 15 December 1982,[18] followed by the first monthly edition dated January 1983. The TV guide was discontinued on introduction of the monthly format.


Editors-in-chief of The Weekly over the years have included George Warnecke (1933–1939),[19] Alice Mabel Jackson (1939–1950),[20] Esmé (Ezzie) Fenston (1950–1972),[21] Dorothy Drain (1972–1975), Ita Buttrose (1975–76),[22] Jennifer Rowe (1987–1992),[23] Nene King, Dawn Swain (1994–2000), Deborah Thomas (1999–2015), Julia Zaetta (2005–06), Robyn Foyster (2007–2009),[24] Helen McCabe (2009–2016),[25] Kim Wilson (2016–17), Juliet Rieden (who was acting Editor-in-Chief in 2016 and 2017 and then Editor before moving to Editor-at-Large from 2018) and Nicole Byers (2017–2023).

Helen McCabe, the editor-in-chief from August 2009 until January 2016,[26] attempted to improve The Weekly's news coverage. In late 2009, she hired Juliet Rieden as deputy editor (Rieden was later promoted to Editor and Acting Editor-in-Chief) and Jordan Baker, formerly a reporter and travel writer for The Sydney Morning Herald, as news editor.[27] In February 2016 Kim Wilson was named as the editor-in-chief of the magazine.[12]

In July 2017, Nicole Byers was appointed Editor-in-Chief.[28]

News editors included Les Haylen (from 1933) and Dorothy Drain (from 1958).

Recipes and cookbooks[edit]

The Australian Women's Weekly Test Kitchen (then known as the Leila Howard Test Kitchen) was established just after World War I. From 1965, it continued to be on the same site of the Australian Consolidated Press (ACP) building (corner of Park and Castlereagh Streets) in Sydney. The Test Kitchen's first 'Best Ever' recipes compilation was published in 1976, collating the most-requested recipes from the issues of the Weekly.[29] The cookbook sold out in days and had many reprints.[30]

The Test Kitchen had a team of 16 people in 2006, comprising chefs, home economists, food editors and support staff.[31]

In 2012, ACP was sold to Bauer Media Group. The Test Kitchen triple-tests recipes which are then published in the magazine, as well as Woman's Day and the AWW cookbooks. Surveys have shown that over 90 per cent of readers buy the magazine for the recipes.[32]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Rebrand and Relaunch: Australasia's Bauer Media now titled Are Media". StopPress. 28 September 2020. Archived from the original on 30 September 2020. Retrieved 30 September 2020.
  2. ^ a b Kelly, Vivienne. "Bauer has left the building. What next for magazines in Australia?". Mumbrella. Archived from the original on 18 August 2020. Retrieved 30 June 2020.
  3. ^ a b Whyte, Jemina (19 June 2020). "Magazine buyer writes new story". Australian Financial Review. Archived from the original on 23 June 2020. Retrieved 17 July 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Australian Magazine Readership, 12 months to September 2014". Roy Morgan Research. Archived from the original on 6 December 2014.
  5. ^ "The Australian Women's Weekly Takes Out Title of Oz's Most Read Mag". B&T. 7 February 2019. Retrieved 8 February 2019.
  6. ^ "The Australian Women's Weekly Makes First Feature Film Investment in I Am Woman". FilmInk. Retrieved 11 March 2020.
  7. ^ Spearritt, Peter (2012). "Pidgeon, William Edwin (Wep) (1909–1981)". Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 18. Melbourne University Press. Online version Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  8. ^ Griffen-Foley, Bridget (2000). Sir Frank Packer, the young master: a biography. Sydney: HarperCollins. p. 79. ISBN 0-7322-6422-7. OCLC 48945204.
  9. ^ William H. Wilde; Joy Hooton; Barry Andrews (1994). The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-553381-X.
  10. ^ Mayer, Henry (1964). The Press in Australia (First ed.). Melbourne: Lansdowne Press. p. 32.
  11. ^ "New ownership for ACP Magazines". Now to Love. 5 September 2012. Archived from the original on 19 February 2017. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  12. ^ a b Max Mason (11 February 2016). "New editor-in-chief of The Australian Women's Weekly named as Kim Wilson". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  13. ^ "ABC Circulation Results - Aug. 2013" (PDF). Ad News. Ad News. August 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  14. ^ Blackiston, Hannah (28 September 2020). "Bauer Media rebrands as Are Media". Mumbrella. Archived from the original on 29 September 2020. Retrieved 30 September 2020.
  15. ^ Bell, J (2013). "Putting Dad in the Picture: Fatherhood in the Popular Women's Magazines of the 1950's Australia". Women's History Review. 22: 901–929.
  16. ^ Weaver, Heather; Proctor, Helen (May 2018). "The Question of the Spotted Muumuu: How the Australian Women's Weekly Manufactured a Vision of the Normative School Mother and Child, 1930s–1980s". History of Education Quarterly. 58 (2): 229–260. doi:10.1017/heq.2018.4. ISSN 0018-2680.
  17. ^ "Australian Women's Weekly Index". Research Data Australia. Retrieved 15 January 2018.
  18. ^ Anna, Anisimova (12 January 2018). "Australian Women's Weekly Index 1950-2011 v20180101". Figshare (Data set). doi:10.6084/m9.figshare.5782413.v1.
  19. ^ Bridget Griffen-Foley, Warnecke, Glen William ('George') (1894–1981), Australian Dictionary of Biography, Retrieved 2 October 2020.
  20. ^ Heather Radi, Jackson, Alice Mabel (1887–1974), Australian Dictionary of Biography, Retrieved 2 October 2020.
  21. ^ Valerie Lawson, Fenston, Esmé (Ezzie) (1908–1972), Australian Dictionary of Biography, Retrieved 2 October 2020.
  22. ^ "Buttrose, Ita Clare (1942 – )". Australian Women's Register. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  23. ^ "How the quest was won", The Sydney Morning Herald, 11 July 2016. Retrieved 1 October 2020.
  24. ^ Robyn Foyster, Retrieved 1 October 2020.
  25. ^ "Former Australian Women's Weekly editor Helen McCabe moves to Nine", The Sydney Morning Herald, 11 July 2016. Retrieved 1 October 2020.
  26. ^ Darren Davidson (13 January 2016). "Helen McCabe steps down as Australian Women's Weekly editor-in-chief". The Australian. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  27. ^ Meade, Amanda (30 November 2009). "The Diary: On the move". The Australian. p. 35.
  28. ^ Zoe Samios (5 July 2017). "The Australian Women's Weekly appoints OK!'s Nicole Byers as editor-in-chief". Mumbrella. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
  29. ^ "Introduction". Food we love: favourite recipes from our test kitchen. Sydney: ACP Publishing. 2006. p. 7. ISBN 1-86396-477-0.
  30. ^ "Introduction". 1000 best-ever recipes from AWW: the Australian women's weekly. Sydney: ACP Books. 2008. p. 7. ISBN 978-1-86396-847-8.
  31. ^ Food we love: favourite recipes from our test kitchen. Sydney: ACP Publishing. 2006. p. 16. ISBN 1-86396-477-0.
  32. ^ Hall, Necia (1 June 1999). "Testing... Testing...". The Age. p. 1.

Further reading[edit]

  • Rebecca Johinke, Queens of Print: Interviews with Australia's Iconic Women's Magazine Editors, Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2019.
  • Denis O'Brien, The Weekly: A Lively and Nostalgic Celebration of Australia through 50 Years of its Most Popular Magazine, Ringwood, Victoria: Penguin Books, 1985.

External links[edit]