We're thrilled to welcome KJ Charles (Wanted, A Gentleman) who knows a thing our two about love advertisements, especially after doing some research. But can you guess when the first “Lonely Heart” ad was placed? KJ fills us in. Thanks, KJ!
Advertising for love might seem to the young a modern phenomenon, the invention of Match.com, Tinder and Grindr. If you’re 40-plus, you might well have tried dating through the small ads in newspapers and magazines. Pop quiz: when do you think the first recorded Lonely Hearts advert dates from?
I’m guessing you’re thinking early 1900s, maybe post-war thanks to the social impact of the mass slaughter of young men. Nope. Try again.
Maybe early 1800s then? The Napoleonic Wars had had a proportionately devastating effect on the male population to the First World War, and the Industrial Revolution had caused massive social upheaval in getting people moving around and swelling the cities. Sounds convincing? Still too late.
The first recorded Lonely Hearts advert in the world was published in a London pamphlet of July 1695, and asked for “some Good Young Gentlewoman that has a fortune of £3000, or thereabouts” to marry a gentleman in his thirties “that says he has a Very Good Estate”. (Let’s take a moment to side-eye that “says he has”. I hope his bride didn’t just take his word for it.)