Tufton Street Tatler & Harlequinade: AA Student Journals
Bobby Jewell, Sept. 2015
Before its 1917 move to Bedford Square the AA ran its Day and Evening Schools in Tufton Street, behind Westminster Abbey. Now a semi no-man’s land stuck between the tourist trap of Westminster and a residential Pimlico, the locale served as inspiration for the vibrant student publication the ‘Tufton Street Tatler’ (1905-09). Following the First World War, another student-led magazine, ‘Harlequinade’ (1923-26), came into existence and together, these two journals give a humorous and fascinating insight into the AA and the concerns of it’s students. A cross between Viz and EM Forster, the ‘Tatler’ and ‘Harlequinade’ used a variety of methods to relentlessly mock of the school establishment, the profession of architecture, other artists and well most things really. AA celebrities/targets of era included Leonard ‘volcanic’ Stokes, Robert Atkinson (AA Director of Education), F R Yerbury (AA Secretary) and ‘Mistress Webb’ (Catering Supervisor) get a constant, playful drubbing in drawings and articles.
Satirical fake reader letters give an insight into the day to day gripes of AA students: in one an irate AA Librarian is incensed that someone would have the gall to actually borrow books from the Library, in another there is an impassioned plea for funds to clean up a pile of broken glass that’s been sat outside the AA’s entrance for weeks. Boorish Limericks, sheet music for drinking songs as well entire play scripts (featuring the Tatler’s Purple Patch himself as a character) feature in the magazine as well as an array of illustrations, comics, grotesques and caricatures of the AA and life as an architect.
Also interesting are the adverts for the AA social and musical events of the era. Programmes for each performance include classical pieces by Haydn, Mozart & Bach as well as more down to earth contemporary numbers such as, well, the Eton Boating Show Waltz. Probably a very popular choice with the AA’s not so varied student body at the time. Given that the theme of the next AArchitecture newsletter is ‘nonsense’ I think it’d be quite hard for them to give the Tufton Street Tatler a run for its money in the wacky stakes – given that it was a publication that often described itself as a “spasmodic periodical”.