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Victorian Periodicals and Victorian Society

Victorian Periodicals and Victorian Society

J. Don Vann
Rosemary T. VanArsdel
Copyright Date: 1994
Pages: 382
  • Book Info
    Victorian Periodicals and Victorian Society
    Book Description:

    In Victorian society the circulation of periodicals and newspapers is thought to have been larger and more influential than that of books. To investigate this premise, J. Don Vann and Rosemary T. VanArsdel commissioned eighteen bibliographic essays by some of the world's leaading scholars in the field of periodical research. The collection is a guide to the exploration of Victorian society including professions (law, medicine, architecture, the military, science); the arts (music, illustration, theatre, authorship and the book trade); occupations and commerce (transport, finance, trade, advertising, agriculture); popular culture (temperance, sport, comic periodicals); and both lower- and upper-class journals (workers' and university students).

    Victorian Periodicals and Victorian Society, originally published in 1994, has become an indispensable reference work for all Victorian scholars. University of Toronto Press is pleased to make this important book available to all students and researchers in an affordable paperback edition.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8307-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
    J. Don Vann and Rosemary T. VanArsdel
  4. Abbreviations of Frequently Cited Works
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Documentation
    (pp. xiii-2)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 3-8)

    The essays presented in this book afford a significant opportunity to demonstrate the pervasiveness of periodical literature in nineteenth-century British society. The editors originally sought to examine not only the so-called literary periodicals, or those directed to the better-educated, more intellectual reader, but to identify the ways that periodicals informed, instructed, and amused virtually all of the people in the many segments of Victorian life. The structure of the collection, divided among five sections of society, guides the reader through periodicals associated with the professions, the arts, occupations and commerce, popular culture, and both the university educated and the working...


    • 1 Law
      (pp. 11-21)

      In the last two decades the study of Victorian legal history and jurisprudence has increased dramatically. In a common-law jurisdiction such as England, scholarly research looks specifically at case law, especially in the appellate courts, for the sources of doctrinal change. The analysis of jurisprudence rests primarily upon the classic texts written by eminent jurists such as Jeremy Bentham, John Austin, and Sir Henry Maine. This emphasis has hidden to some extent the prominent role that legal periodicals played in the development of important areas of Victorian law. For those who worked within the Victorian legal system, whether as barrister,...

    • 2 Medicine
      (pp. 22-44)

      Medical practitioners in nineteenth-century Britain communicated in a variety of ways. The most rudimentary form of medical communication was the face-to-face discourse of doctors, nurses, and patients in the hospital, the surgery, and the home. Medical teachers and their students spoke face-to-face, too, in private apprenticeship and on the wards of the teaching hospitals. The nineteenth century saw the explosive growth of lecturing and demonstrations as forms of medical teaching, and some lectures saw their way into print to serve as textbooks of medicine or surgery. The tradition of medical treatises in book form continued throughout the period, but it...

    • 3 Architecture
      (pp. 45-61)

      Like the specialist press in other spheres, the rise of architectural journalism is closely related to the development of the profession it served. In terms of simple chronology, the two dovetailed very neatly. The first major architectural periodicals appeared within a decade of the foundation of the Institute of British Architects in 1834, and its deliberations formed a significant part of their early content. As Institute membership and influence developed, along with a yet wider growth in the number of people calling themselves architects, so periodicals appealing to this broad profession multiplied in growth and size. By the 1870s, a...

    • 4 Military
      (pp. 62-80)

      Though the British army was relatively small in the nineteenth century, and British society could hardly have been called militaristic, the reading public for military journals was consistently an attractive one after the end of the Napoleonic War. For the most part, this public was made up of active and retired officers from both the army and navy, the two together coming under the title of United Services for the purpose of journal titles. The number of publishers and journals was never large, but those involved could assume a steady market, minimal competition, and subjects of interest that extended from...

    • 5 Science
      (pp. 81-96)

      When Thomas Hardy’s astronomer Swithin St Cleeve makes his discovery of variable stars inTwo on a Tower(1882), he sends copies of his report to the Greenwich Observatory (i.e. to the Astronomer Royal), the Royal Society, and, rather out of character for a Victorian gentleman of science, to a daily newspaper. In the event, St Cleeve finds himself forestalled by an American astronomer who has already described the phenomenon, again rather implausibly, in a pamphlet. Although St Cleeve’s account would presumably have appeared in theProceedings of the Royal Society, Hardy, like all Victorian novelists, seems to have been...


    • 6 Music
      (pp. 99-126)

      The musical press of nineteenth-century Britain is rich and multifarious. Over the period 1800–1900, some two hundred music journals were brought out in England, Scotland, and Wales, and included every imaginable type from music society annuals to music hall weeklies; some had music as a supplementary feature. During the same period, most daily and weekly newspapers carried a regular column on music, while general magazines and quarterly literary reviews published at a more leisurely pace much of the best musical literature available, in the form of essays and book reviews. A further category is the periodical consisting wholly of...

    • 7 Illustration
      (pp. 127-142)

      In an 1840 article entitled ‘Popular Literature of the Day,’ theBritish and Foreign Reviewoffered its readers ‘a collection of statistical notes’ on various magazines and journals then in circulation:

      Seventy-eight weekly periodicals are enumerated... twenty-eight of these are devoted to miscellaneous matter; seven to more political subjects; fifteen to the publication of novels, romances and tales; sixteen to biography of celebrated individuals; four to scientific intelligence; three to drama; two to medicine; two are collections of songs, and one registers the progress of the Temperance cause.More than two-thirds of these have the attraction of illustrations. (italics mine)...

    • 8 Authorship and the Book Trade
      (pp. 143-161)

      ‘To the thousands of young persons whom I address, the Literary Life offers attractions which are almost irresistible. The old bugbear – the prejudice formerly so well founded – of poverty has vanished.’ So Sir Walter Besant greeted literary beginners in the preface to his vademecumThe Pen and the Book(1898). By now it could be taken for granted that devotion to writing held out hopes for a living, as against just a way of life, but, as Besant implies, this was a recent development. After a series of ephemeral ventures, authorship finally came of age as a recognized...

    • 9 Theatre
      (pp. 162-176)

      Although many Victorians regarded the stage with suspicion, more British periodical publications were devoted partly or wholly to the theatre (interpreting that word in its largest sense) during that time than any other. Their development was stimulated not only by the usual factors responsible for the nineteenth-century proliferation of all kinds of periodicals (lower printing costs, higher literacy, etc) but also by the physical multiplication of theatres and, hence, of audiences and readers.

      The eighteenth century, limited as it was in London to two patent houses with a third in summer, scarcely provided enough material to fill a number of...


    • 10 Transport
      (pp. 179-198)

      The recorded history of the railway in England begins in 1603–4 with a line of wooden rails near Nottingham. For the next two centuries, railways were exclusively short lines, mostly well under ten miles in length, for transporting minerals to rivers or canals, using animal power or gravity. Iron rails were laid on top of the wooden rails from the 1760s, soon followed by track laid with iron rails only. The steam locomotive appeared in 1803–4, and after twenty years of experiment the Stockton and Darlington Railway was opened in 1825, demonstrating the effectiveness of steam power in...

    • 11 The Financial and Trade Press
      (pp. 199-218)

      In the last thirty years there has been a remarkable expansion of interest in business history. From a subdiscipline within economic history it has grown to become a subject worthy of separate study. Within the general preoccupation, the Victorian period has been a major focal point for historians and economists as they have sought to explain the early stages of industrialization, the origins of modern capitalism, and the economic underpinnings of the class system. The classical school of political economy, the background to the adoption of free trade, and the ideology implicit in the development of a factory system have...

    • 12 Advertising
      (pp. 219-234)

      The value of advertisements as source material was for too long overlooked by scholars, and even today seems to be undervalued. In many areas of historical study, however, advertising has the ability to shed fresh light or to provide the researcher with a new perspective on a familiar problem.

      For the social historian, advertising offers reflections of society in a bygone age. As James P. Wood comments inThe Story of Advertising(1958), ‘In advertising can be seen the actuality of what people have been like in their day to day living through the centuries and what we are like...

    • 13 Agriculture
      (pp. 235-248)

      By 1800 the dominance of agriculture in the British economy had been challenged by manufacture and trade. Agriculture, nevertheless, still produced approximately a third of the British national income and, as late as 1851, 1,788,000 men and 229,000 women, 21.5 per cent of the work force, were employed in agriculture. Agriculture was still an indispensable component both of the economy and national life. Before the middle of the nineteenth century, transportation deficiencies and cost made domestic production the main source of Britain’s food. Ninety per cent of Britain’s food was still produced in the United Kingdom in the 1830s.



    • 14 Temperance
      (pp. 251-277)

      Although alcohol consumption and its abuse were endemic in pre-Victorian England, no organized crusade was launched against intemperance in the eighteenth century. However, by the early nineteenth century, age-old drinking patterns conflicted with the demands of an increasingly industrialized and urbanized society and with the emergent concept of Victorian respectability. Temperance then became a social and a moral issue. Interestingly, the impetus for the Victorian temperance movement migrated from America to Britain in the early 1800s, and as it did it spawned a multiplicity of societies and journals, a product of the movement’s institutional development. The majority of the early...

    • 15 Comic Periodicals
      (pp. 278-290)
      J. DON VANN

      A Victorian comic periodical typically contains jokes, comic verse, riddles, parodies, caricatures, puns, cartoons, and satire. The majority of comic periodicals were published weekly and sold for a penny, although a few were monthly and prices ranged up to sixpence and occasionally a shilling. The nineteenth century saw the launching of some comic periodicals in the first decade with the appearance of theSatirist(1808–14). Founded by George Manners to advance the views of ultraconservative Tories, the editor later described it as a paper ‘devoted to the purposes of exposing and castigating every species of literary and moral turpitude...

    • 16 Sport
      (pp. 291-298)

      Sport was already an important element in British life before the Victorians. Many landowners enjoyed fishing and shooting on their estates, and both horse racing and hunting developed rapidly in the eighteenth century. Cricket and prize fighting had matured sufficiently by 1750 to have their rules committed to paper and, along with racing, had begun to attract a popular audience. But the later eighteenth century was paradoxically an age of reason and a period of evangelical revival. Both movements found fault with sport. Not only did they consider it a waste of time, but the drink, gambling, swearing, and sex...


    • 17 Workers’ Journals
      (pp. 301-310)

      Of all categories of Victorian periodicals, working-class journals may be the most difficult to research. Complete runs of many papers have not survived, and we often know precious little about their editors, contributors, and readers. Lucy Brown’sVictorian News and Newspapers(1985) is an excellent thematic overview, full of original insights strikingly illustrated; but its coverage of the working-class press is very limited, and there is still no general history of British proletarian journalism. Nevertheless, by dint of hard research and some methodological ingenuity, scholars are slowly filling in the map of this vast and largely unknown territory.

      Joel H....

    • 18 Student Journals
      (pp. 311-331)

      Universities, by their very natures, provided an ideal atmosphere during the nineteenth century to encourage student journalism. In the first place, there was literacy, which provided not only writers for the articles, but also a captive readership. Given the high spirits of the young, there was also curiosity, not only about the university and its workings, but an awakening to the wider world which the students were preparing to enter. The university was a community of many constituencies which offered ample material for aspiring pens: the faculty; the administrators; the chancellors and boards of trustees; and the students with their...

  12. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 332-338)
  13. Index
    (pp. 339-370)