Lovely Subtext

Many of the tear sheets from the Walt Reed Illustration Archive were pulled from women’s magazines. The collection contains numerous fiction stories illustrating tormented love tailored specifically for female audience. As a collective whole, the tear sheets provide an interesting specimen as to what sensational troubles these fictional protagonists faced. Women were both tormented and the tormenter in stories that centered around the complexities of love. Below are some of the favorites illustrated by various artists from the public collection in Shared Shelf.

Jon Whitcomb


5 minutes with her and Bill knew where he stood…in Love, and Outside.

All through her, her body, her mind and her heart, a prayer was pulsing like heated blood: Please don’t let him be married!


No girl in the bunch would have fallen in love with Tony on purpose — especially not Beth, who remembered what it was like to be unwanted.

george hughes

“Be nice to Patsy,” Linda would say, her eyes gazing trustfully up at him.


Then he moved aside the veil. They gazed so eagerly at each other that they almost forgot to drop their eyes to the mirror…

earl hurst

The heartbreaking adventure of a modern Galahad. His trouble was women

Morgan was an honest stage villain who had hissed his way to success and certainly never expected to be called upon to play the role of Great Lover

rolf armstrong

“Being a well brought up young man, he felt that he must fly immediately from their agile presences.”

This post is part of a series highlighting some of the tear sheet files that were digitized from the Walt Reed Illustration Archive as part of a CLIR Grant initiative.

About the author

Andrea Degener is the Visual Materials Processing Archivist in the department of Special Collections at Washington University Libraries.