The Best of Spare Rib

Posted by
Stylist Team
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Long before feminist websites like BitchBuzz and 'zines like Pamflet were published, Spare Rib was the feminist magazine du jour.

First published in June 1972 by 21-year-old Rosie Boycott and her 28-year-old co-editor Marsha Rowe, Spare Rib proved to be so popular and important to women it was published for 20 years. To celebrate and pay tribute to the 40 year anniversary of Spare Rib, we've chosen 20 of our favourite Spare Rib covers, featuring colourful illustrations and feminist icons like Angela Davis and Jane Fonda.

  • November, 1983

    Spare Rib issue 136's main feature was the A-Z of feminism and came with an "AmaZing" pull-out.

  • January, 1975

    Issue no. 32 of Spare Rib features political activist Angela Davis, who spoke to the mag about black women and revolutionary freedom.

  • April, 1981

    This colourful, illustrated cover from Spare Rib marked its 105th issue, which included features on Linda Lovelace, birth control, as well as the new Nationality Bill.

  • March, 1973

    We love this domestic-focused cover of Spare Rib from March 1973 which focused on simple clothing patterns, Evelyn Williams, and the revolution of Chinese women.

  • No.28

    Issue 28 of Spare Rib featured a fantastic illustration of naked, cartoon-like women and a tackled the complicated (and still relevant) issue "why women starve themselves".

  • December, 1975

    A crimson cover including features on Tammy Wynette, Rose Davis, and bus driver Doris Pitts. (Plus, the feminist approach to having a "liberating" orgasm.)

  • April, 1983

    Another illustrated cover, issue 129 of Spare Rib delved into the Nationality Act, women working in local governments, and - joy of joys - cervical smears.

  • November, 1978

    This black, white and red cover of Spare Rib reminds us of a crime fiction paperback, and features stories on "kitchen-sink racism", as well as new novels from the women's movement.

  • August, 1975

    Sold then for just 30p, issue 38 of Spare Rib features a powerful image from a pro-choice march attended by over 20,000 women.

  • December, 1972

    With the provocative headline of "On the boss's lap for Christmas, back under his thumb next year", there is an unconfirmed Internet-urban-feminist legend that the "boss" on Spare Rib issue no.6 cover is nonother than actor John Cleese. It would be amazing if this were true, but we think it may just be a (rather handsome) lookalike. Drat.

  • August, 1978

    Issue 73 of Spare Rib asked a question we're still asking ourselves now: "How far have we come?"

  • 1974

    Gotta love the Spare Rib team for getting creative with contraceptive foam. This "Contraceptive Con" issue of the mag focused on girlhood in the first world war, women workers, and "sex and self hate".

  • "Dummy Only"

    Never an official cover for Spare Rib, this is a shot of Spare Rib's "dummy issue", shot by Angela Phillips, produced in advance of their June 1972 launch.

  • July, 1972

    Behold the very first cover of Spare Rib magazine, which hit newstands on June 19, 1972. Upon the launch of Spare Rib, many newstands including WH Smith refused to stock it.

  • June, 1977

    Featuring a stunning photograph of a woman (reportedly artist and activist Hannah O'Shea) painted as a zebra, issue no.59 of Spare Rib discussed disturbing images of women, and the need for female gurus.

  • April, 1990

    A very '90s style cover, issue 211 of Spare Rib focused on Tories, embryo research, and features the Wee Papa Girls' "Rap Against The Tax".

  • May, 1976

    A groovy green and black cover featuring the Stepney Sisters, issue 46 of Spare Rib was all about women in music and sci-fi.

  • May, 1982

    An eye-catching pink, black and white cover with features on nursing, childbirth, and the "history and lives" of Irish women.

  • February, 1977

    An action-packed issue featuring the headline "Goodbye to the CREEPS" with a six page special on self defence. We feel like Miss Piggy would particularly enjoy this issue.

  • October, 1973

    The mighty Jane Fonda graced the cover of issue 16 of Spare Rib, which included a feature on Jane where she explained why she decided to become a political activist.

    Image Credit: Rex Features.