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October 23, 2023

The Countryman magazine folds after 96 years citing ‘unviable’ conditions

The publisher cited rising paper, print and postage costs as factors.

By Bron Maher

Country life magazine The Countryman has taken “the very tough decision” to cease publication 96 years after it was founded.

Parent company Dalesman Publishing said the November issue of the magazine, due out on Wednesday 25 October, will be its last.

“Following the Covid lockdowns, print and paper costs have soared by 70% and postage has leapt by 26%, and there has been a steep decline in advertising revenue,” the publisher said. “Combined, these factors have made the future of the magazine unviable.”

They added that the closure “is something that has not been done lightly, or easily, but with heavy hearts after much analysis and anguish”.

The Countryman was founded in 1927 in the Cotswold village of Idbury by John W Robertson Scott. Dalesman Publishing said it had been “radical and unsentimental in its presentation of countryside matters but also entertaining, attracting articles by such people as GK Chesterton and George Bernard Shaw”.

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Notable subscribers to the magazine included prime ministers Ramsay MacDonald and Winston Churchill, as well as authors HG Wells, Sir Hugh Walpole and JB Priestley.

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Scott was succeeded as editor in 1947 by John Cripps, who moved the publication’s offices two years later to Burford, Oxfordshire, where it was commemorated in 2014 with a blue plaque. The title was bought by IPC magazines in 1998 and then by Dalesman – itself a subsidiary of Country Publications Ltd – in 2002.

In 2017 The Countryman received well wishes from the late Queen, Dame Judi Dench, the chairman of English Heritage and wildlife presenters Kate Humble and Chris Packham as it celebrated its 90th birthday.

Dench wrote at the time: “What an achievement and what a milestone. The Countryman has become an important part of the countryside that it represents so well with good traditional country writing.

“Open the covers and there in print is birdsong, wild flowers, country crafts and country life made real. A monthly treat – many congratulations and please keep up the good work.”

The Countryman’s monthly circulation in 2013 – the most recent year for which ABC figures are available – was 10,944.

[Read more: Why paper has become a huge headache for publishers]

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