Nova (UK magazine)

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Cover of Nova
CategoriesWomen's magazine
First issueMarch 1965; 54 years ago (1965-03)
Final issueOctober 1975 (1975-10)
CountryUnited Kingdom
Based inLondon

Nova, published from March 1965[1][2] to October 1975,[1][3] was a thoughtful glossy title that created its own unique niche in the British consumer magazine market at the very moment when women's hemlines rose six inches above the knee. It has been described as "a politically radical, beautifully designed, intellectual women's magazine. In 1965 Nova discussed sex and the Pill, and epitomised the sophistication of London with its bold type and white space."[4] For its day, Nova's agenda of journalistically taboo subjects included contraception, abortion, cancer, race, homosexuality, divorce and royal affairs, invariably boosted by stylish and provocative cover images, making it a rarity among magazines.[1] It was Nova's courageous second editor, Dennis Hackett, together with visionary art director Harri Peccinotti, who swiftly established their magazine as an influential must-read for the movers and shakers of Swinging London, with men as well as the original target audience of women becoming devotees of its heady mixture of social issues and cutting-edge fashion and modern lifestyle features.[5]


Founded by the agenda-setting magazine publishing company George Newnes, part of the International Publishing Corporation (known informally as IPC), Nova was initially edited by Harry Fieldhouse and described itself as "A new kind of magazine for the new kind of woman". From its seventh edition Dennis Hackett took over as editor with Kevin d'Arcy as assistant editor, Harri Peccinotti as art editor, Alma Birk as editorial adviser,[6] with Penny Vincenzi and later Molly Parkin as fashion editors. David Gibbs' comprehensive anthology[1] of Nova pages and images says of Parkin, who trained as a painter: "A dynamic sense of colour and design was all she needed to guide her. Unfettered by the accepted wisdom of the fashion system, she introduced an unconventional and startling view of what women could wear... always teasing the edges of taste... She set the standard."

At Nova, Peccinotti became one of the first professional photographers to use black models extensively in his fashion shoots.[7] He stated in an interview: “Nova started as an experiment. The thinking behind it came from the fact that there were no magazines at the time for intelligent women... The women’s liberation movement was strong and there were a lot of good female writers. Nova’s aim was to talk about what women were really interested in: politics, careers, health, sex. George Newnes threw some money in, just to see if anyone was interested in a magazine like that, and so it started.” [8]

The distinctive Nova headline font, adapted by Pentagram from a vintage woodcut typeface, became a formative influence on typography for many years. As part of a revolution in graphic design led by the progenitors Town, Queen, Elle and The Sunday Times Magazine, Nova took specific inspiration from the universally admired German magazine Twen.[9] At Nova between 1966 and 1969 Derek Birdsall, John Blackburn and Bill Fallover continued expanding the role of a magazine art director who on some titles assumed a role as powerful as its editor's.[1]

Long-form contributors to Nova included such notable and disparate writers as Graham Greene, Lynda Lee-Potter, Christopher Booker, Susan Sontag, Kenneth Allsop, Robert Robinson, Elizabeth David, with agony aunt Irma Kurtz and astrologer Patric Walker[10] making his name as Novalis.[4][1] Nova also published the autobiographical writing of Arthur Hopcraft, later expanded into his 1970 book The Great Apple Raid and Other Encounters of a Tin Chapel Tiro.[11] In the early 1970s it featured experimental "impressionistic" fashion photographs by Helmut Newton, Don McCullin, Hans Feurer and Terence Donovan.[4][12] Illustrators included Mel Calman and Stewart Mackinnon.[13]

Nova's radical approach to female liberation aroused men's curiosity too and it became famous in publishing circles as a woman's magazine that had more male readers than female, which was an aspect of its financial decline during the economic crisis of the 1970s.[citation needed]

The magazine was revived in May 2000, but it lasted just 13 issues, closing with its June 2001 issue.[14]


  1. ^ a b c d e f David Gibbs (Editor), David Hillman (Compiler), Harri Peccinotti (Photographer) (1993). Nova 1965-1975. London: Pavilion Books. p. 224.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ Esther Walker (23 October 2011). "Cover girls: 300 years of women's magazines". Independent. Retrieved 28 November 2015.
  3. ^ Di Hand; Steve Middleditch (10 July 2014). Design for Media: A Handbook for Students and Professionals in Journalism, PR, and Advertising. Routledge. p. 8. ISBN 978-1-317-86402-8. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
  4. ^ a b c Kate Muir, "The greatest magazine of all time", The Times, 22 April 2006.
  5. ^ Haggerty, Bill (4 September 2016). "Dennis Hackett obituary". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 15 January 2017.
  6. ^ Mark Pottle, "Birk , Alma Lillian, Baroness Birk (1917–1996)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, October 2008 , Retrieved 30 May 2011.
  7. ^ "Harri Peccinotti – The sexuality of everyday activities"., July 2, 2009.
  8. ^ "Harry Peccinotti talks to Filep Motwary". Dapper Dan, July 26, 2013.
  9. ^ "Twen magazine - The Most Influential Magazine of All Times?". Magazine Designing. 26 June 2013. Retrieved 25 April 2017.
  10. ^ "Patric Walker – ‘the world's greatest astrologer’". Independent obituary, 9 October 1995.
  11. ^ Richard Holt, "Hopcraft, Arthur Edward (1932–2004)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, January 2008; online edn, January 2011, Retrieved 30 May 2011.
  12. ^ Robin Muir, "Donovan, Terence Daniel (1936–1996)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, October 2006, Retrieved 30 May 2011.
  13. ^ Simon Heneage, "Calman, Melville (1931–1994)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, Retrieved 30 May 2011.
  14. ^ Matt Wells (3 May 2001). "Nova magazine to close for second time". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 30 July 2014.

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • David Gibbs, ed., Nova 1965–1975, 1993