R. H. Naylor
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (June 2011)|
Richard Harold Naylor (1889–1952), better known as R. H. Naylor, was the first sun sign astrologer.
Newspaper astrology columns began in August 1930 in the Sunday Express, just after the birth of Princess Margaret. Editor John Gordon wanted a story on her birth but with a new angle, so Cheiro (then the biggest name in astrology) was asked to do her horoscope. Cheiro was unavailable, so the job went to R H Naylor, one of his assistants. The result was "What the stars foretell for the new princess" (24 August 1930 page 11). It gave her birth chart and described what certain individual factors indicated, namely her Leo sun sign ("The Princess will share certain basic characteristics common to all people born in the present month"), and her angular Uranus, Saturn and Venus ("these three planets will greatly modify the basic characteristics"), but diplomatically not her close Mercury–Mars square nor her close Venus–Jupiter–Uranus T-square, ending with a general forecast (e.g. health will be "fairly good", life will be "eventful"). More importantly, under the general heading "And a few hints on the happenings of this week", an equal amount of space was devoted to mundane forecasts (e.g. "a sudden outbreak of revolutionary activities may be expected in Germany"), and forecasts for each birthday in the coming week (e.g. "August 27 ... you will find life romantic and interesting", "August 29 ... family difficulties are settled"). He created the horoscope for her, not only outlining in his article a character now recognizably that of the Princess, but predicting that 'events of tremendous importance to the Royal Family and the nation will come about near her seventh year'. (Unforeseen events indeed resulted in her father's accession to the throne a few months before her seventh birthday).
A week later, under the heading "Were you born in September?" (31 August 1930, page 7), the Sunday Express reported that Naylor's article had aroused "enormous interest" with "many requests" for further forecasts. It then gave Naylor's forecasts for each birthday in September (e.g. "September 24 ... Lucky for investments", "September 30 ... False pride leads to mistakes"), plus a brief mundane forecast (e.g. "unemployment may decrease slightly"). This was followed a month later by the corresponding "Were you born in October" (5 October 1930, page 21), then a week later by a new weekly article "What the stars foretell for this week" (12 October 1930, page 19), which was introduced by the editor as follows:
"The Sunday Express has received so many letters from readers concerning the recent extraordinary predictions of Mr R.H.Naylor that arrangements have now been made for him to contribute an exclusive weekly article. This article will interpret the astrological portents likely to influence national and world affairs each week. He will give warning advice to City men, racing men, and politicians, and will, in addition, tell you what fate may have in store for you if your birthday should fall during the week."
Thus began a weekly column on "What the stars foretell" that lasted until the 1940s. It generally occupied about a sixth of a page in a 24-page newspaper, with 20-25% devoted to mundane forecasts, and the rest to birthday forecasts (and a brief general forecast) for each weekday, including the best days for buying, selling, entertaining, and playing sports and games. Naylor's forecasts were by birth date, not by sun sign, and the only reference to readers' sun signs began in 1935, when brief delineations of the current sun sign (occupying roughly 10% of the column) were introduced each month under the heading "Astrological Who's Who". So although his was the first newspaper astrology column it was not really a sun sign column. Nor was he the first to produce birthday forecasts; for example, each year since at least 1850 Raphael's Prophetic Almanac has given birthday forecasts for every day (e.g. 9 September 1889 "Great troubles await thee, thy business will fail") including the fate of the newborn ("a child born on this day will be unfortunate").
"Naylor and his horoscopes became a power in the land. If he said that Monday was a bad day for buying, then the buyers of more than one West End store waited for the stars to become more propitious. Gradually, of course, every paper published a horoscope and you paid your money and bought or sold from Monday to Friday according to which prophet you followed." (Arthur Christiansen, Headlines all my life, Heinemann, London 1961 page 65. Christiansen was then editor of the entertainment section and was responsible for first hiring Naylor.)
The newspaper gave Mr Naylor massive publicity, and he became famous overnight. This led to pressure on Naylor to come up with a simplified system of astrology suitable for a newspaper column, henceforth known as sun-sign astrology. After some experimentation, Naylor hit on using the sun signs (also called star signs) and called his column Your Stars. Since then, innumerable newspapers and magazines have published regular astrological forecasts for their readers.