In 1937 Stefan Lorant, the photo journalist, launched Lilliput with £1,200 lent to him by a girl friend. Although it sold well it carried no advertising and lost money. Sydney Jacobson joined the magazine and invested his savings in the venture.
Unable to make a profit the magazine was sold to Edward Hulton for £20,000 in 1938. When Lorant emigrated to the United States in 1940 Tom Hopkinson took over as editor. Contributors included Julian Huxley, Stephen Spender, John Betjeman, Compton Mackenzie, Osbert Lancaster, Arthur Koestler, Bill Brandt, Bert Hardy, Walter Trier, Robert Graves and Walter de la Mare.
Besides my work on Picture Post, I had also since 1941 been responsible for Lilliput, the pocket magazine started by Stefan Lorant to which some six years earlier I had vainly tried to contribute in the hope of earning three guineas. Lilliput was a delightful little publication, well printed, with an attractive coloured cover always drawn by the same artist, Walter Trier. One of its best-known features was the 'doubles' - two look-alike photographs on facing pages, a pouter pigeon
opposite a cadet on parade with his chest thrown out; Hitler giving the Nazi salute to a small dog with its paw raised; a bear opposite a publican with a pear-shaped face.
In wartime particularly, Lilliput was an easy magazine to sell. It made no demands. It did not attack or criticize. It simply made one laugh, providing a couple of hours of easy enjoyment. Writers, artists and photographers seemed happy to work for it despite the ridiculously low fees it paid, and the sales soared before long into the hundreds of thousands. One of the theories on which the magazine operated was that all kinds of well-known people who don't normally write articles - archbishops and admirals, sportsmen and scientists, film stars and prime ministers - have some personal interest they will be happy to write about if asked. It may be the only article you will ever get from them, but at least it will make your contributors' page impressive.
Bill Brandt, today a venerated father-figure in photography, took many picture series for Lilliput, photographing young poets, taking pictures on film sets, in pubs, in Soho, in the London parks. One day in the summer of 1942 we suggested to him that these wartime nights offered a unique opportunity to photograph London entirely by moonlight. Because of the blackout there was no street lighting, no car headlamps, no light of any kind; never in history had there been such a chance, and once the war ended it would never come again. He returned to us weeks later with a beautiful set of mysterious photographs out of which we made ten pages. He had been obliged to give exposures of up to half an hour, and had once found himself suddenly surrounded by police. An old lady had seen him standing beside his camera mounted on its tripod, and dialled 999 to say there was a man in the road with a dangerous machine.