In December 1903, Arthur Hoey Davis published the first issue of Steele Rudd's Magazine, beginning a long period as proprietor of several series of Steele Rudd magazines. Davis was widely known as Steele Rudd, the author of On Our Selection (1899) and Our New Selection (1903). Many of the stories contained in these volumes had been published previously in the Bulletin, providing Davis with a wide readership.
Offered to readers 'in the interests of Australian Literature and Art', the magazine promised 'to fill its pages with nothing but first-class work both as regards writing and drawing.' In addition to many stories by Steele Rudd, writers such as Joseph Furphy, Mary Gilmore, George Essex Evans and Victor Daley contributed stories and poetry. Ashton Murphy was announced as the primary cartoonist in the first issue, but Davis attracted contributions from many other visual artists including Norman, Lionel and Ruby Lindsay, George Taylor, Ruth Simpson and Arthur Hingston. Not entirely made up of literary content, the magazine also published articles on sport, fashion and the theatre.
The magazine had a significant rural bias, signalled immediately by its many advertisements for farm and domestic equipment. Published in Brisbane for Steele Rudd & Co., the magazine attracted many local advertisers and a number from Toowoomba near where many of Rudd's stories are set. In later issues, characters from Rudd's stories appeared in advertisements for farm equipment.
Like the Bulletin, Steele Rudd's Magazine encouraged contributions from readers, printing many in the 'Out-back Realities' section. Steele Rudd also wrote a 'Correspondence Column', responding to contributions with witty advice and caustic rejections in the manner of the Bulletin.
Davis was one of the few writers in the early 1900s who made a significant income from his writing. But overspending and poor business investments brought financial trouble. In 1905 Davis sold Steele Rudd's Magazine to J. F. Millington who then acted as editor. But by January 1906, Davis had bought back his interest in the magazine, apologizing in the January issue for the editorial policies of the previous eight months.
Steele Rudd's Magazine survived for another eighteen months. In February 1907 Davis moved to Sydney, conducting his editorial duties from there. But, despite the financial stability of the magazine, Davis was not satisfied with the salary he was drawing for the time and energy he provided. His solution was to cease publication. The last issue of Steele Rudd's Magazine appeared mid-year and Davis had returned to Brisbane by November. This was not, however, the end of Davis's career as a magazine proprietor. He revived the magazine several times during the next twenty years under variant titles, but consistently encountered financial difficulty.
Some of the other illustrators whose works appeared in Steele Rudd's Magazine in the 1903-1907 period were : Les Albison, Fred Booty, Nina Booty, George Brandt, Ted Collis (presumably Ted Colles), James A. Crisp, Jim Cunningham, Cyril Dobbs, Will Donald, Zif Dunstan, Ambrose Dyson, Will Dyson, A. J. Fisher, Tim Gooch, John Gow, Hal Gye, W. R. Hamilton, Dick Hartley, Harry Hervy, W. Hess, 'J. E. N.', Harry Julius, J. Kennedy, Ben J. Lee, J. McMaster, Val McNally, Norman Macpherson, Thorn Masters, Phil Mo, Bert Mudge, Fred J. Nicoll, 'Nullo', Charles Nuttall, Mick Paul, Adam Plass, C. S. Poynter, H. Rosling, Jean Sibi, Perce Smith, Syd Smith, Harold Stephens, Pat Sullivan, 'Tec', H. W. Turner, Walter Vaile, Hal Warwick ('Broad Arrow'), Ned Wethereo, Ethel Wood.
Whilst many of these illustrators were professionals, some were also probably amateurs and 'would-be's'.
The protagonist is an educated man and expert horse-breaker, who through an inner compulsion, lives a Jeckyll and Hyde existence, stealing horses in Western Queensland. He is soon caught by the police, and ends up in Boggo Road gaol, and then St. Helena prison, in Moreton Bay. On release, he returns to Western Queensland, and then Northern New South Wales, where he falls in with a hardened outlaw and horse thief.