Monthly Archives: November 2015

The Great Lady’s Magazine Stitch Off

Update: The patterns have been uploaded here for you to enjoy and try. Good luck and let us know how you get on.

 

Readers of this blog who also follow my Twitter feed (@jenniebatchelor) or the project’s (@ladysmagproject) will already know that this has been an exciting week for me. In the space of a week, I have purchased not one, not two, but three bound volumes of the Lady’s Magazine. I bought the first two – a bound volume for 1822 and a half-year (July to December) for 1830 – together via a conventional route which took me to a wonderful second-hand bookseller. They were a one-off and rare treat for myself, paid with by various extra-curricular work I have been doing and for which I felt I had worked hard enough to reward myself with something really pretty special. The third volume I acquired was a different story altogether.

Earlier this week, I was called at work by someone whose name I had not heard before but who had heard of me via our project website and this blog. She told me that she was trying to sort through and declutter her home after a recent and nasty fall and had a lot of old books that she had bought from boot fairs, charity shops and jumble sales over the years and that she wanted rid of. One of these books was the Lady’s Magazine for 1796. She described it as tatty and said she didn’t want it any more but wanted it to find a good home, someone who would love it and look after it as she feared it might one day be put on a skip.

I asked her more about it. I asked her what page the volume started on and worked out from her answer that it was a half year that started in July. She emphasised again that the magazine’s condition was not good and I conjured a mental picture of it based on the several broken-spined, torn and heavily discoloured copies I have seen in bookshops or photographed on Ebay. Of course, I wouldn’t let it languish and would provide a good home to any copies of the magazine out there, but I concluded that this probably wasn’t a volume I would have hunted out for purchase had I not been alerted to its existence.

But then she told me that the magazine had some interesting stuff inside. Music. Patterns.

Patterns?

My ears pricked up. I told her a little more about the magazine and urged her not to give it away. It was of some monetary value even if very, very tatty, and because of its cultural value, I would be very interested in it and would keep it as far as possible away from that skip.

I arranged to travel to meet the book’s owner, who was an incredible and fascinating woman with whom I had so much more in common than it was possible to imagine when I first picked up the phone. We had a cup of tea and chatted about various things. She gave me cooking pears from her garden, some books for my children, and then she presented me with the magazine, which I subsequently insisted I bought from her.

It is gorgeous! Yes, it’s mottled and discoloured in places, but the binding is in tact (half-years generally fair better than the incommodiously large annual volumes, I was reminded). But the greatest pleasure of all was finding a pattern folded behind almost every one of the fold-out song sheets the volume also contained.

We have commented before on the blog about the expectation of the magazine’s publishers that patterns would be used and therefore ripped out of monthly issues of the periodical prior to binding in annual form. Some patterns survive in bound volumes, but the vast majority do not. We have been acquiring as many images or hard copies of these patterns as we can (if you know of or own any, please get in touch!), and I am looking forward to seeing in person a number that are in bound volumes of The Lady’s Magazine in the University of Cardiff’s Special Collections next week.

image

A New Pattern for a Gentleman’s Cravat

But this half-year, now my half-year for 1796, has patterns for almost every monthly issue it contains.

I was recovering at home yesterday after a minor accident, which has left me with a very sore back. I couldn’t concentrate on work, so I concentrated on the least concentration-demanding activity I could (briefly) think of: Twitter. I was so excited about my new acquisition, I wanted to show it off to other people by sharing pictures of the patterns and other engravings and song sheets. I was staggered by the reaction the images got (retweets, likes, comments, direct messages). Talk about spreading a little happiness.

In the course of my many and fascinating interactions with people yesterday, one from the lovely @ExpatHistorian in conversation with my friend, historian and fellow eighteenth-century fashion enthusiast Dr Hannah Greig (University of York), completely stopped me in my tracks. Tweet

Wouldn’t that be great, I thought… Hang on. No: wouldn’t that be brilliant? Shouldn’t we do that? How could I make this happen? This had to happen!

As a child, my grandmother taught me to sew and I did embroidery for relaxation (and because I am hopeless at doing only one thing at a time) until my 20s. Sadly, I haven’t embroidered for nearly 20 years and, as a consequence, I am not nearly as relaxed now as I was when younger. I have often played around with the idea of one day trying out a Lady’s Magazine embroidery or tambour pattern for myself. Now might be the time to try. But how much better would it be to have lots of people doing this too? People much better at sewing than I am. What could this tell us about the patterns? About the period? About the magazine?

I don’t yet know the answers to these questions, but what I can say is that I am now confident that we are going to find out.

A New Pattern for a Gown or Apron.

A New Pattern for a Gown or Apron.

Thanks to the enthusiasm of our tweeps, I am going to scan all of the patterns to which I own the copyright in the next week or so and within two weeks I plan to make them available on the Lady’s Magazine project website so that people can download them and attempt to replicate them. We plan to post results and people’s experiences of trying to recreate these wonderful designs on the blog in future weeks and months.

We are completely delighted that lots of people, novices and experts with needles alike, have expressed interest in the experiment. Some will no doubt attempt to do the work in as historically authentic a way as possible. Others might feel inclined to modernise. We don’t mind. Anything goes!

All we ask is that if this does interest you, that you spread the word by sharing this post and asking people to visit our Twitter feeds where we will update you when the scans are ready.

In the coming weeks, I plan to write a little more about the context of the patterns for those who don’t know their tambours from their tambourines. But in the mean time, do let us know if you are interested in our little experiment.

Ready, set, STITCH!

UPDATE: The patterns have been uploaded now and can be found here. Enjoy and let us know how you get on!

Dr Jennie Batchelor

School of English

University of Kent

 

 

 

Lost in translation: transnationalism and the Lady’s Magazine

One of the great pleasures and well as challenges of working on the Lady’s Magazine and other miscellanies of its day is the extraordinary breadth of content with which you are confronted. My literary training in the period has equipped me with ways of, and contexts in which, to read eighteenth- and early-nineteenth century novels, tales, poems, essays, criminal biographies, reviews, travel writing, news and other, principally prose genres too numerous to mention. My expertise is clearly much stronger in some areas than others, but I’m not going to reveal the chink in my academic armour and tell you which I’m not so hot on. Oh well, as it’s just us, I’ll tell you that basically anything to do with maths or what we could call the sciences makes me sprint for the aspirin jar.

My life-long fascination with material culture means I have strategies for reading fashion plates, reports and embroidery patterns, too, although despite my best efforts, I know that I will only ever be an amateur art or textile historian. I lack the knowledge to situate and fully grasp the context for the magazine’s sheet music, but years of dabbling in lots of musical instruments, none of which I play very well, means I can sight read and hum or sing the tunes I come across.

The real headache for me is the foreign language material in the magazine, of which there is a small but significant amount, most of which is in French. My French is just not good enough to be competent in reading these articles in a scholarly context. (This is another of the million reasons why Koenraad is such an asset to the project.)

Often the foreign language material is translated in the magazine, however, so I can at least usually read it in English. But I am always aware that to do so is potentially to limit meaning and erase context. The more I read the magazine, whether I am looking at Parisian fashion plates, or reading memoirs, or essays on education translated from French or German, the more I am interested in how this self-avowedly British magazine is, like so much eighteenth-century print culture, produced in a much more complex and rich European context of intellectual exchange and debate than we Anglophone scholars often acknowledge and that we overlook to our cost.

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LM XLI (Nov. 1810): 508. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / British Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

This is an issue that was brought home to me very forcefully in recent weeks when I was spending more time with the 1810 and 1811 issues of the magazine, which featured from November 1810 to August 1811 a serial and apparently unabridged translation of a work from the Spanish under the following title: A Defence of Women. Written A. D. 1726. Translated from the Spanish of Geronymo Feijoo. The translator’s name is given as Elenir Irwin, a name which, to my knowledge, does not appear again in the magazine and whose identity, if indeed this is a legal name rather than a pseudonym, I have not yet been able to confirm.

The fact that the magazine was publishing translated Spanish essays and excerpts did not surprise me. Although French and German are the most common languages of non-English source-texts in the magazine, Spanish material appears from time to time. In 1810, however, the magazine excels itself in an interest in all things Spanish. In March 1810, for instance, it publishes a biography of King Ferdinand VII, and throughout the year extracts appear from texts including Jean-François Bourgoing’s Travels in Spain (an English translation of which had been published by the Robinsons in 1789),  Robert Semple’s Second Journey in Spain (1809) and Alexandre de Laborde’s A View of Spain (also 1809). What did surprise me was the content of Feijoo’s extraordinary work and the fact that, in my ignorance, I had never heard of him before.

Benito Feijoo

Portrait of Feijoo y Montenegro by Juan Bernabé Palomino.

 

A quick search pulled up an English and a more detailed Spanish Wikipedia page for Benito Jerónimo Feijoo (1676-1764), a Benedictine monk who wrote hugely engaging and popular learned, multi-volume collections of essays, including the Teatro crítico universal de Errores communes (1726–1740) from which ‘Defence of Women’ (Defensa de las Mujeres) is taken. From the opening lines, I was hooked by the compelling modernity of Feijoo’s words, at least as they were translated into English:

 

 

While I enter with alacrity upon the defence of the female sex, I am aware how arduous is the undertaking: I am not merely preparing to encounter the prejudices of the vulgar, but in  attempting a universal defence of one sex, I am in danger of a general censure from the other; as there are few men who do not please themselves in asserting their superiority in the scale of being; and many of them extend their contempt for women so far as to deny them almost every excellence. They think their minds peculiarly prone to vice, and their bodies subject to disease.

The point on which these objectors argue with the least reason, is the narrow limit of the female understanding; and therefore after I shall have given a concise refutation of their other attacks, I mean to speak more largely upon the capability of women to acquire the most abstruse sciences, and to ascend to the sublimest speculations. (LM XLI [Nov. 1810]: 508-9)

The text proceeds with a debunking of various, spurious philosophical, medical and cultural myths of gender and reflections on the achievements of a catalogue of European female worthies in its bid to assert women’s moral, physiological, spiritual and intellectual abilities. As it does so, the text betrays some hallmarks of its time, but the abiding sense I had in reading this extraordinary work was shock was that this was a text from the 1720s, authored by a Spanish monk, and that I had never heard of it. Could Feijoo have ever imagined that his essay would be being read by British women in English nearly 90 years after its first publication in Spanish?

I tried to research the reception history of the text and track down British translations from which the Lady’s Magazine translation could have been drawn. My initial searches turned up a couple of prior British translations, one of which I located easily on ECCO, the other I couldn’t initially find (but later did). Neither of these translations matched that in the magazine. And then I had the extreme good fortune to be put in touch with Dr Mónica Bolufer Peruga in the Department of Modern History at the Universidad de Valencia, and who has published a wonderful essay on ‘Rational Equality in the Early Spanish Enlightenment’, which includes a wonderful account of Feijoo’s Defensa in a broader European context in Sarah Knott and Barbara Taylor’s indispensable, Women, Gender and Enlightenment (2005) [1].

Monica alerted me to the fact that there are three known English translations of Feijoo’s Defensa in the eighteenth century: An Essay on Woman, or Physiological and Historical Defence of the Fair Sex. Translated from the Spanish of el Theatro Crítico (London: W. Bingley, c. 1765); Three Essays or Discourses on the Following  Subjects. A Defence or Vindication of the Women. Church Music. A Comparison between Antient and Modern Music. Translated from the Spanish of Feyjoo by a Gentleman (Londor: T. Becket 1778); An Essay on the Learning, Genius and Abilities of the Fair-Sex, Proving them to be not Inferior to Man, from a Variety of Examples extracted from Ancient and Modern History. Translated from the Spanish of El Theatro Crítico (London: T. Steel 1774). The Lady’s Magazine translation matches none of these. And while this doesn’t definitely prove the translation is original to the periodical, it does suggest that Elenir Irwin might well have existed and that she may have been able to translate – and it is an eloquent translation – from Spanish into English, or perhaps Feijoo came to her via a 1755 French translation that neither Dr Bolufer nor I have been able to locate.

In a sense, though, the originality or otherwise of the translation is the least interesting thing about it. Its contents are provocative and rhetorically charged yet measured in its learned campaign to persuade readers that ‘the excellencies of men cannot be denied to women’ (LM XLI [Dec 1810]: 531). There are hints of Mary Astell’s Serious Proposal (1694-97) and Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) and there is a lot more to say about the text’s argument than I have space to say here.

But to leave off for now, it was a shade of Jane Austen in the translation of Feijoo’s ‘Defence’ that almost stopped me in my tracks. In Chapter IX, Feijoo introduces an ‘allegory’ from the Sicilian Carducio (Vincenzo Carducci) in his ‘dialogues on painting’ about a man and a lion discoursing on the relative merits of their species. Feijoo interprets the ‘fable’ of the allegory in the context of the woman question and formulates it thus: ‘Men were the writers of those books in which the understanding of women is stigmatized as inferior to ours. If women had penned them, we ourselves might have been brought low.’ (LM XLI [Supp 1810]: 595)

Had Jane Austen read this when just a few years letter she too would put such similar words in the mouth of Anne Elliot? I wish I could say I knew. But I don’t. And as the very often (though not always) right Anne concludes, we really can’t allow books to ‘prove anything’ after all. But the rich, transnationally influenced and culturally complex contents of the Lady’s Magazine surely have lots and lots to teach us.

Dr Jennie Batchelor

School of English

University of Kent

Notes

[1] Mónica Bolufer Peruga, ‘”Neither Male, Nor Female”: Rational Equality in the Early Spanish Enlightenment.

 

 

Notes on the material periodical, inspired by a workshop in Ghent

Denizens of the Real World often picture researchers of print culture as perpetually cooped up in stuffy libraries, inhaling centuries-old dust and the stale whiff of foxing paper. For a large amount of the time this is a representative tableau (and long may be it so!), but another important part of our job is to venture out and tell others about our findings. If you are as lucky as we are, you get to travel quite a bit when doing so. In my last post, I discussed my inspiring visit to Trondheim, and I announced that we would soon be crossing the Channel for a workshop at Ghent University. As we expected, this event of Friday 30 October was a great success as well, not least because of the warm welcome that we received from our friends at the English section of the Ghent Department of Literary Studies. We heard from fabulous PhD students and postdocs based at Ghent and Kent about their research on periodicals, we presented our own work, and were introduced to the great new Ghent project ‘Agents of Change: Women Editors and Socio-Cultural Transformation in Europe, 1710-1920’, funded by the European Research Council.

    Several grad students took part as well, and another highlight of the day was a lecture by Prof. emer. Laurel Brake (Birkbeck), who drew from her vast knowledge and experience to introduce these periodical padawans to our discipline. Prof. Brake has been an influence on my thinkingPiT since I first got into periodical studies, and although she was self-effacing in her talk, it was impossible to miss how many ideas pioneered by her have since been interiorized by the entire field. To give but a few examples, the special issue on the uses of theory in periodical studies that she edited for Victorian Periodicals Review in 1989, and the essay collection Investigating Victorian Journalism (1990 – with Aled Jones and Lionel Madden) that is still the best primer on the subject, have pushed the field forward in ways that cannot be overstated. In her much-cited Print in Transition, 1850-1910: Studies in Media and Book History (2000), she helped to instigate a material turn in studies of ‘print culture’; a multidisciplinary approach that, incidentally, she was one of the first scholars to name as such. Though their case studies are Victorian, these publications can all be used as a basis for studies of eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century periodicals as well.

   Prof. Brake reminded us that now, when most scholars mainly read periodical texts in digital form, we need to be more aware than ever of the material aspects of the texts that we are studying. She recommends using the digitizations as conveniently accessible databases, but rightly urges us to return regularly to the original paper copies. Even when I snuggle up with a printed text, I have found it to be vital to question what I am looking at. As we have noted before, monthly magazines have mostly been handed down to us in annual volumes bound for private or public libraries, or sold in such sets by the publishers themselves at the end of each year. In the case of the Lady’s Magazine, only a few original monthly issues have survived at all. The problem is that annual volumes tend to have been purged of paratextual matter such as wrappers and other addenda (fashion plates, music sheets, tipped-in frontispieces, loose supplements, etc.). Usually digital holdings consist of scans from these annual volumes rather than the (often lost) original monthly issues, and this is not always apparent from the databases’ interface.

   In what follows I would like to look at two sources of bibliographical information that are inevitably lost through the standardized formatting of digital databases. After the efforts of Prof. Brake and others, attention to material details such as size and bindings have become a regular interest in nineteenth-century periodical studies, but it is probably fair to say that – a few admirable exceptions notwithstanding – this has been less the case for the eighteenth century. I will here offer a few notes on how ogling and fondling paper copies of the Lady’s Magazine allows us to compare it to other periodicals of its time, thereby helping us to situate it within the market.

AMD

   When you read the magazine in its excellent digitization by Adam Matthew Digital, it will of course always be as large as your screen. From this you cannot gauge how large or small this periodical actually was, and this is one of those rare cases where size does matter, because it not only affects the production costs, but also makes the magazine either look like its competitors or stand out amongst them. Bibliographers recommend stating exact measurements in inches or centimetres (width x length) when describing the size of texts, because the traditional terms for formats, such as folio, quarto, octavo, duodecimo, are more slippery than you might think. It is easy to confuse (quoth the immortal Fredson Bowers) the inexact ‘commercial format’ referring to conventions of page size that differs between countries and historical eras, and the complicated ‘bibliographical format’ that is a technical categorization based on the number of foldings of (and hence the number of pages out of) the printed sheet.[1] Its size varies slightly over the years, but the Lady’s Magazine is around 5 and 1/8 inches by 8.5 inches large, placing it between what are usually described as a duodecimo and an octavo, and roughly at the same size as the market-leading Gentleman’s Magazine. As Calhoun Winton writes about the two most regular formats for periodicals of the earlier eighteenth century, ‘[i]f the duodecimo was designed for the literary walker, who carried books in his pocket, the octavo was for the carriage trade’.[2] The Lady’s Magazine no doubt adopted this format to emulate the Gentleman’s, which in turn will have favoured it because it was economical for the publishers, who could that way get a lot of pages out of a ream of paper. This helped to keep the price down. However, it is true that the magazine was easily portable, and at an average length of 60 pages, it made for light reading in the most literal sense.

wrapper Oct 1771 LM

LM Vol. II, No. 4 (October 1771)

   The bindings of a publication should always be considered as well, because as the first and most tactile point of contact between the reader and the text they will be designed to convey vital information. In the nineteenth century some more expensive and prestigious periodicals would come bound like books with hard covers, the durability of these boards metonymically suggesting less ephemerality for the bound publication than would be associated with allegedly disposable publications that came in comparatively flimsy paper covers. In the eighteenth century this practice was close to non-existent, and it made no sense anyway for periodicals that were meant to appeal to a wide audience, like the Lady’s Magazine. As you would expect, the paper covers, or wrappers, of monthly magazine issues too are absent from the annual volumes. Monthly issues of the Lady’s Magazine are rare, but rarer still are copies that still have their wrappers. A largely intact copy of the 1771 October kept in the special collections of the Kent Templeman library comes with the original cover, so we do at least know what it looked like at this point. This particular wrapper on its front just features a table of contents, and on the verso of the front as well as on both sides of the back, it has advertisements. The latter are an invaluable addition to our knowledge of the Lady’s Magazine’s market position because the only adverts within the main body of the magazine are for the Lady’s Magazine itself. We will return to this paratextual advert section in a future blog post as this would take us too far here.

   The table of contents on the 1771 wrapper may not sound very exciting, but it is not without its uses. From January 1774 (Vol. V) these tables of contents, with the same layout, appear within the parent publication, so this suggests a change in marketing strategy whereby from this issue onwards the wrappers no longer list the contents, but maybe get a more eye-catching design instead. Until we find post-1773 wrappers we of course do not know for sure, but some may pop up sooner or later. Please do give us a shout if you ever spot one!

Dr. Koenraad Claes

School of English, University of Kent

[1] Fredson Bowers, Principles of Bibliographical Description (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994), p. 429

[2] Calhoun Winton, ‘The Tatler: From Half-Sheet to Book’, Telling People What To Think: Early Eighteenth-Century Periodicals from The Review to The Rambler, Ed. by J. A. Downie and Thomas N. Corns (London: Routledge, 1993), p. 30

Drama in the Lady’s Magazine

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LM XLIII (December 1812). Image © Adam Matthew Digital / Birmingham Central Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

Drama appears in the Lady’s Magazine throughout its over sixty year print run in numerous forms. The most frequent genre is the review, but the theatrical world is also presented to the magazine’s readers through, for example, biographical essays on actors and actresses, excerpts from plays, songs from new productions, engravings of theatres and performers and translations of (primarily) German and French dramas.

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LM I (December 1770): 227. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / Birmingham Central Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

From its commencement in 1770 the magazine demonstrates its engagement with the contemporary theatrical milieu – in December 1770 a contributor who signs himself Theatricus offers an essay including anecdotes about morally jeopardized individuals who repent after seeing plays in which their weakness (such as gaming) are exposed. ‘The Remarkable Effects of Theatrical Representations’ functions as a conduct work, opinion piece, and tract on morality but also blatantly promotes English theatre and ‘the great utility of Theatrical amusements’ (LM I [December 1770]: 227). The piece mentions some of these useful plays – The Provoked Husband and George Barnwell – and concludes with the hope that ‘our nobility would raise the same subscription, and appropriate the same house that they now use for Italian operas, to a good set of English actors’ (LM I [December 1770]: 227). The first year of the magazine also includes a range of reviews of plays such as Clementina, a tragedy, and the Madman, a burletta. Reviews (or ‘accounts of’ different plays as they are described in the periodical) appear dispersed throughout the other items in each monthly installment, which usually includes 1-4 such reviews.

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LM XLIV (Supplement 1813). Image © Adam Matthew Digital / Birmingham Central Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

While the reviews remain a standard feature of the periodical, preliminary research indicates that there is a sharp decline in their appearance from 1811-1813. Indeed, during this three year span any mention of theatre is scarce. Exceptions to the paucity of theatrical material include biographical sketches of Sarah Siddons in 1812 and in the 1813 supplement an account of Miss Smith (Sarah Bartley). In 1814 the reviews are consolidated into a single section called ‘Dramatic Intelligence’ which is subdivided into sections by the individual theatre. After this the periodical undergoes another refashioning and from 1818 reviews are located under the section entitled simply ‘Drama’.

In the early years of the magazine the theatrical reviews were primarily synoptic, including details of the performers and either extracts from the play or summaries of the plots, and offering little criticism. For example, the January 1771 reviews of Almida and the West-Indian detail the location, actors and actresses and parts alongside lengthy descriptions of the plays and describe the audience reception. This is a fairly standard formula for the majority of the reviews throughout the lifetime of the magazine, but in the early 1780s some of the reviews do begin to include more critical examinations of the plays’ content. Such more critical reviews run alongside the conventional summary model for the duration of the periodical.

LM XII (June 1781): 321. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / Birmingham Central Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

The account of the Dead Alive, a farce, in June 1781, is one of the first that alters the traditional model of reviews. This ‘account’ does so by introducing the critical commentary in the form of a very lengthy footnote. This style is not a common one; although reviews do occasionally appear with commentary provided in the footnotes, more often the reviews embed the criticism within the body of the article. But in the account of the Dead Alive the unsigned writer opens with ‘The piece*’ and then includes her opinion in the subscript marked by the *. The body of the account continues with the traditional summary of the play’s plot. The writer states in the opinion subsection that the play, taken from a passage in the Arabian Nights Entertainment, has been ‘transferred’ by the playwright from ‘the East to London, and converted the sultan and sultana into a liquorish old maid and a formal old bachelor’ (LM XII [June 1781]: 321).

Arguing that the play is ‘avowedly the production of the author of the Son-in-Law’ the contributor notes that the play is ‘enlivened with that peculiar vein of humour, those droll equivoques, and odd turns, that distinguish the author of The Son-in-Law’ (LM XII [June 1781]: 321). The anonymous writer also comments on the originality of the characters, pointing out that the character of Motley, ‘though touched by a more masterly hand in The Apprentice, and more recently displayed in All the World’s a Stage, still derives some originality from the author’s management of it’ (LM XII [June 1781]: 321). Complimenting the performances of the company, the acting ability of particularly Mr. Edwin, who played Motley, is described as excellent. The body of the review, after summarizing the plot, provides some of the songs.

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LM XII (May 1781): 316. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / Birmingham Central Library. Not to be reproduced without permission

Another review that makes use of footnotes or subscript for the critical content is the serial feature on the ‘Spendthrift, compared with The Generous Imposter’ from the French of Des Touches. This review is particularly interesting because it is the first I found that offers a sustained and serial critique of the effectiveness of the translation, rather than the play itself. Although not all of the installments include lengthy discourse comparing the translation to the original, there are many that do, and such passages focus particularly on the ability of the author to convey to and/or modify for an English audience the sentiment and humour of the French original.

Other genres, such as the essay, provide biographies of celebrated actors and actresses, often extracted from memoirs or autobiographies. Especially in later years these essays are accompanied by engravings of the individual, such as Sarah Siddons, one of the more celebrated actresses of the eighteenth century. Mrs Siddons’ enduring popularity is demonstrated by her appearance in the magazine in various genres including theatrical reviews, engravings, and as the subject of poetic odes from (at least) the 1780s through the 1820s. Other actresses and playwrights appearing in engravings include Hannah Cowley and Dorothea Jordan.

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LM XVI (December 1785). Image © Adam Matthew Digital / Birmingham Central Library. Not to be reproduced without permission

The enduring prevalence and shifts in the material concerned with the theatre within the Lady’s Magazine offers fascinating insights and information on both the reception of plays and translations but also the changing sociopolitical contexts in which productions were staged and received. The range of genres that make use of dramatic pieces, language, and influences for a range of purposes reflects the engagement of readers and contributors with the contemporaneous theatrical world. Although this preliminary research raises more questions than it answers at this stage, it provides an important glimpse at the shifts in both the types of genres (essays, reviews, opinion pieces, etc.) that engage with a popular and constant topic within the periodical, and the shifts within a specific genre, such as the review.

Jenny DiPlacidi

University of Kent