The rise and fall of the Bulgarian Anna Wintour

 

"In the hands of a poorly educated lady a good women's magazine works like magic – she checks the fashion section, flicking through the pages about embroidery and passionately admiring them, whilst subconsciously continuing onto reading the articles with a deeper, more serious political content"

History lessons don't mention her name, even though she was one of the most famous Bulgarian women in the early 20th century. In 1935 Teodora Peycova published the very first women's magazine in Bulgaria, instantly becoming one of the most influential women for her time and remaining a constant presence in the traditional Bulgarian home for the next 25 years.

 Teodora Peycova and  Economy and housing keeping  magazine

Teodora Peycova and Economy and housing keeping magazine

After receiving her high-school and university education in Vienna and Brussels, Teodora returned home, aspiring to show everything she'd learnt about European culture to her fellow Bulgarian sisters. Thus, with the help of her husband, she founded 'Economy and Housekeeping' - a women's magazine, tackling a range of topics regarding social problems, inventions made by women, family values and parenting, culinary recipes, fashion trends from abroad.

But that's not all her potential had to offer. Teodora embodied those very same European values of a smart working woman that she was communicating: she spoke over four other languages and in her spare time she published her translations of foreign books. Furthermore, she wrote novels for other newspaper publications, played the piano and tennis and is also known for being the first Bulgarian woman to drive a car.

However, her biggest contribution was to the cultural development of the Bulgarian woman. She dedicated her life's work to bringing a change to the woman's role in early 20th century, for which many resented her. Her feminist views were very uncommon for conservative Bulgarian society, which till today remains heavily patriarchal.

Unfortunately, following the big political shift in the 1950s and the rise of communism in Bulgaria, the magazine was branded as 'bourgeois' and printing ceased in 1960. The European values, customs and traditions Teodora spent most of her life trying to introduce and implement into the Bulgarian homes were deemed as 'unsuitable' and were also forbidden. While history may have forgotten her name, her legacy still lives on, not only as a part of the history of women in publishing, but also as an active supporter of women's rights. 

Sofia Mutafchieva