Monthly Archives: April 2016

The Mighty Pie Chart and Generic Evolutions

Screen-Shot-2014-11-24-at-10.19.52We often discuss the variety of items, subjects, themes and genres that appear in the Lady’s Magazine. Each seemingly transparent topic can be found within an array of genres; for example, the topic of ‘fashion’ appears in items ranging from the moral essay and advice column to the opinion piece, historical essay and fashion report. Deciding which genre an item belongs to in the magazine is a task at times difficult to negotiate. This is in part because genres overlap and are by nature flexible; designating a particular item either a sentimental tale or a moral tale is thus not always simple or clear. Assigning works a genre requires that one privilege a particular genre over another, making decisions at once about authorial intent, editorial preference and reader perceptions.

Yet once the difficult decisions are made, how can we disseminate a database with tens of thousands of items, belonging to dozens of distinct genres, into readily comprehensible information? The pie chart is a simple yet effective research tool that allows the different genres in the Lady’s Magazine to be visualized. In 1770-71, for example, the magazine was largely made up of anecdotes, essays and translations, followed by enigmas and conduct items.
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In comparison, in this sample chart for 1771, it is easy to see that the majority of the magazine’s items are now essays or moral essays, followed by enigmas, translations and reviews. And of course, because enigmas are short in comparison to the lengthier essays, translations and reviews, it is these latter three genres that made up the bulk of the magazine’s content in its second year of publication. Anecdotes in 1771 make up only 5% of the magazine, in comparison to 17% the previous year. Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 15.37.14

One of the key aspects of my research on the project is not only to analyse the items in order to assign them genres, but also to examine how the magazine’s generic composition evolves over the five decades of shifting literary tastes and political, social and cultural revolutions of its first series. Although this is a difficult task to negotiate, by breaking down the magazine’s generic makeup for each year in a pie chart, one can readily see what types of items could be found in the magazine. From here, it is easier to extrapolate the larger shifts in genres over the magazine’s print run. The dramatic decrease in the number of anecdotes from the first to second year, for example, could be explained by the magazine’s increasing readership and correspondingly larger number of contributors of original essays and fiction that meant the editors could rely less on extracted and popular anecdotes as material.

The most striking aspect of the pie chart created for 1790 is, I believe, the greater number of distinct genres in the magazine. Twenty years into its publication, the periodical was clearly comfortable with its position in the literary marketplace and the editors and publishers felt secure enough to  print an even greater variety of genres and items. Also interesting is that, in the key historical moment, the number of translations (usually from the French) has dwindled to only 1% of the magazine.Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 16.03.11

This is only a snapshot of one aspect of our research on the magazine’s composition and genres, but it allows the scope and quantity of data on genres to be readily perceived and is useful in analyzing the evolutions and in disseminating the results to other researchers and the public.


Jenny DiPlacidi

University of Kent

Finding the Mysterious Miss Cuthbertson in the Lady’s Magazine

In the 1830s, in India, an anonymously published book entitled Santa Sebastiano was sold at auction. It had two eager bidders who did not want to give up the purchase. One was Emily Eden, poet, novelist, bibliophile and sister of Lord Auckland. The other was historian, politician and equally avid reader Thomas Babington Macaulay. The episode is described with predictable bemusement by Macaulay’s nephew Sir George Trevelyan in his Life and Letters of Lord Macaulay (1875-76), who notes that the auction winner, Macaulay, later annotated the last page of his copy of Santa Sebastiano (1806) with ‘an elaborate computation of the number of fainting-fits that occur’ in it. (Julia de Clifford alone faints 11 times, but who, except Macaulay, is counting?) [1]

While Trevelyan expressed admiration that Macaulay thought he could probably ‘rewrite “Sir Charles Grandison” from memory,’ his uncle’s passion for ‘silly, though readable’ books, like those of Mrs Meeke or Mrs Kitty Cuthbertson, who authored Santa Sebastiano, as well as The Romance of the Pyrenees (1803), The Forest of Montalbano (1810), Adelaide; or, the Countercharm (1813), and (although Trevelyan did not know this) Rosabella;  or, A Mother’s Marriage (1817), seemed inexplicable. Yet Trevelyan’s view is unrepresentative. Kitty or Catherine Cuthbertson was a widely read and highly popular Gothic novelist in the Radcliffean tradition. The Romance of the Pyrenees was translated into French and German (the anonymous French translation was widely presumed to be of a Radcliffe novel on the continent). American editions of her novels followed and extracts from them appeared in US periodicals well into the nineteenth century [2].

A perhaps still more telling indication of Cuthbertson’s enduring popular appeal can be found in a review of Lord Brabourne’s edition of Jane Austen’s letters that appeared in The Times on 6 February 1885. The review broadly welcomes Brabourne’s edition, but laments the lack of annotation, especially in correspondence in which Austen alludes to other writers. It was ‘absurd to assume’, the reviewer declared, ‘that one reader in a thousand knows any particulars about “Alphonsine” and the “Female Quixote”, and is aware that Madame de Genlis is the author of the former and Mrs. Charlotte Lennox of the latter’. The refrain is repeated a few lines later when the reviewer turns to a now well-known letter in which Austen expresses incredulity that Mrs. (i.e. Jane) West was so very prolific when so domestically encumbered. West, the reviewer proclaims, is ‘but a name to the reader of this work’. Brabourne should have recognised this fact and provided relevant editorial information that the reviewer is, instead, forced to disclose. West, he interestingly continues, was ‘a voluminous writer in the last century who resembled in many things the Mrs. Meeke and Mrs. Kitty Cuthbertson’ [3].

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LM, 35 (Feb 1804): 87. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / British Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

What does this tell us? Well, for thing it suggests that if West and her works were obscure in 1885, Cuthbertson and her Gothics evidently were not. This is despite the fact that Cuthbertson never signed her name to any of her novels. And there is considerable evidence that knowledge of her fiction, although increasingly clouded in a biographical fog, persisted for at least several decades afterwards the Times review. Cuthbertson’s novels generated sufficient interest, for example, to spark conversations in Notes and Queries the 1910s and 1920s (some prompted by speculations that her work was by Radcliffe or Clara Reeve). More recent scholarship on the Gothic by Rictor Norton and others has sought to establish Cuthbertson’s place as one of the key figures of the genre in the early nineteenth century, as she surely was [4].
It was a career that began in earnest in the pages of the Lady’s Magazine. (Some sources suggest that she wrote an earlier 1793 unpublished play staged on 25 February at Drury Lane entitled Anna but the attribution is not secure.) Her first novel, The Romance of the Pyrenees was serialised in the magazine from February 1804, having been recently published in volume form by Robinson (the magazine’s publisher) in 1803. However, just weeks after the title first went on sale, and after only a few copies of it had been sold, the bulk of the print run of the Romance was devastated by a warehouse fire at the establishment of the magazine’s then printer, Samuel Hamilton.


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LM, 35 (Feb 1804): 87. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / British Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

Attempting to cut their losses on the damaged run, Robinson decided to serialise Cuthbertson’s novel along with their recently printed edition of Royall Tyler’s American 1797 The Algerine Captive in the Lady’s Magazine with occasional engravings. As a consequence, The Romance of the Pyrenees reached a new and possibly much wider readership than it would have done had it been published in volume form alone. It became the longest running serial magazine fiction in the long eighteenth century apart from a serialisation of Pamela [6]. In subsequent years, the magazine would publish extracts of other of her novels (Santa Sebastino in 1807; Adelaide in 1814), all of which Robinson published, and the snippets from which seemed to serve as puffs to promote wider circulation of her work.

Cuthbertson’s fiction, with its complex plots and naturalised supernatural endings (my favourite involves a parrot), extends over many volumes and merits a blog post in its own right. Since reading it, however, one of my major preoccupations has been trying to find out more about its author. Although Cuthbertson was evidently popular and, at some point in the nineteenth century, revealed to be the author of her anonymous novels, her biography remains a series of speculations and lacunae.

Biographical accounts suggest that Cuthbertson was born before 1780 and that she may have been Scottish or, as a likely army daughter, been born overseas. Some sources also make reference to a possible connection to a Captain Bennet Cuthbertson, who published an important work on military tactics. Armed with this scant information I was determined to find out more and with a little effort, and a few hours lost in the archives, I did.

The first and most signifiant clue I found was a Notes and Queries article by a relative of the Cuthbertsons, William Ball Wright, of Osbaldwick Vicarage, York, who posted in June 1911 a response to a query about the authorship of the Romance of the Pyrenees. The article notes that Kitty Cuthbertson was the author of the work and that Kitty’s father was a Captain Bennet Cuthbertson, of Northamptonshire, of the 5th Regiment, who retired to Dublin in 1772. The first two dots were, therefore, joined. A third came when I looked into Bennet Cuthbertson a little more. Cuthbertsons System for the Complete Interior Management and Oeconomy of Battalion of Infantry was published in 1768 in Dublin. Likely before the publication of this work, Cutherbertson married a Catherine Bell (daughter of a Dr Thomas Bell of Dublin). Ball Wright, a descendant of Catherine Bell’s sister, Elinor, goes on to explain that the couple had several children, including  Kitty (or Catherine), Olivia, Julia and Anne. (It is possible that they also had a son, Robert, although this is not mentioned in the article.) While Anne stayed in Ireland,  the other Cuthbertson sisters moved to London at some unknown point before 1803 to ‘wr[i]te romances’. [5]

The Dublin connection, then, is what has thwarted efforts to find Catherine Cuthbertson before now. The Irish records for this period are patchy to say the least. After many hours of searching, I can find no birth or baptism notice for Catherine in the extant Irish records. But I can now prove that she was born in Ireland.

Hoping that a life of penning Gothic fiction promoted good health, long-livedness and a disinclination to marry, I went in search of the Cuthbertson sisters in the 1841 and 1851 census returns. An Olivia Cuthbertson (born in Dublin) showed in the 1851 census as living, aged 85, in Ealing, Middlesex. I was disappointed that I couldn’t find a Catherine or Julia. But the Ealing connection seemed worth pursuing. What if this Olivia was Catherine’s sister? And what if the sisters had lived together or very near one another?

And then I found them.

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In the 1841 census, Catherine Cuthbertson, born in Ireland, was living with a Juliana Cuthbertson. Both are listed (perhaps improbably) as 70 years old at the time (although it is theoretically possible, if unlikely, that the sisters were twins). Their source of income was the Irish Civil List, details of which subsequently confirmed for me that the sisters, along with Olivia, were living off their deceased father’s pension. I then went in search of Catherine’s death notice (occurring some time between 1841 and 1851, since she was not in the later census) and soon found a burial record indicating that she was buried in Ealing on the 2 June 1842 aged a more likely 67, dating her birth to around 1775.

As attribution finds go (and we have had lots so far in the Lady’s Magazine project), this may not seem like headline news. Cuthbertson was a magazine contributor by accident not design. And although her work in the magazine and outside it was published anonymously, her authorship has long since been known and the attributions of her novels secured. Putting a (rough) birth and (more secure) death date on Cuthbertson’s life as I have been able to do might seem more like housekeeping than significant research.

But I can’t help but feel that this is signficant. The Dublin connection – the fact of which made Cuthbertson’s biography so remote to us for so long – is surely of particular interest. Cuthbertson deserves the place in the history of the Gothic she is beginning to secure, but she also, I think, warrants a place in the history of Irish (women’s) writing. I hope some of my colleagues in Irish Studies will pick up this gauntlet and run with it, because Cuthbertson, quite frankly, deserves our attention.

Like so many of the writers published in the Lady’s Magazine Cuthbertson’s work was influential. She was more than a Radcliffe imitator. Her work, as I hope to show in a later blog post, had formal and thematic influence and, as I have indicated, had extraordinary geographical as well as temporal reach. Her books sat alongside Austen’s in Queen Charlotte’s library, and as we have seen, it was taken for granted that readers in the 1880s would have heard of her, as they would have heard of Jane Austen, in contrast to the by then considered obscure Jane West, Charlotte Lennox and Madame de Genlis. Into the early twentieth century, people cared enough about her novels to enquire into her author’s life and work.

Cuthbertson, like so many Lady’s Magazine authors, is an important figure in literary history, not just because of what she wrote, how many people fainted in her novels’ pages, or because people like Macaulay read her. She is important because her persistent popularity and claim on readers’ imaginations makes clear that so many of the things we once thought we knew about literary history – about who was read and remembered – don’t always chime with reality.

Dr Jennie Batchelor

School of English

University of Kent


[1] Sir George Trevelyan, The Life and Letters of Lord Macaulay, 2 vols. (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1877), vol 1, pp. 129-130.

[2] A notice for an 1812 American edition of The Forest of Montalbano appeared in the National Intelligencer for 24 March 1812, for instance. The Arkansas Gazette published a long extract of Romance of the Pyrenees on March 17 1878.

[3] ‘Jane Austen’, The Times (6 Feb 1885): 3.

[4] See, for instance, Rictor Norton ‘Gothic Readings’ <accessed 14.4.16>.

[5] William Ball Wright, ‘Note’, Notes and Queries, 77 (17 June 1911): 475.

[6] Robert D. Mayo, The English Novel in the Magazines, 1740–1815 (London: Oxford University Press, 1962), pp. 232–33

Rabies and the Lady’s Magazine

It is a truth universally acknowledged – by epidemiologists, at least – that the ‘first case’ is never the first case. For example, the Duke of Richmond’s illness and death in 1819 is often said to be the first recorded case of rabies in Canada [1]. However, not only is the nature of the Duke’s illness contested, but three much more probable cases of human rabies have come to light: Charles Gigueres (dog bite, 1814), Jean Maheu (dog bite, 1816) and Madame Bruneau (cat bite, 1817) [2]. All of these reports predate the Duke of Richmond’s death.

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LM, 46 (April 1815): 194. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / Birmingham Central Library. Not to be reproduced without permission

The scientific veterinary literature infers from data like these that rabies was present in Canada in pets and perhaps in wild life from at least the late eighteenth century, but the reference in the Lady’s Magazine (LM, 44 [April 1813]: 194) to the dogs running mad in Newfoundland is the first direct reference to rabies in animals in Canada of which I am aware.

The commentator reports that, ‘This is said to be the first case of hydrophobia among the canine race in that cold climate. The consequences are very serious, as dogs are the beasts of burden in that country’. It is tangentially interesting to note that the poet, Byron, owned a Newfoundland breed dog, which contracted rabies and died in 1808 at Newstead Abbey in England. The dog, ‘Boatswain’ was commemorated in a famous epitaph, the last lines of which are

who was born in Newfoundland May 1803,
and died at Newstead Nov.r 18th, 1808.

Assuming that Boatswain was not a recent acquisition, he contracted rabies in Britain not Canada (the incubation period of canine rabies is usually less than 6 months; range, 10 days to about 1 year). Rabies was endemic in Britain around that time. Byron is said to have nursed Boatswain without any fear of contracting the disease himself. This may not be as fantastical as it sounds; canine rabies exists in two forms: furious and dumb. In dumb rabies the dog becomes docile and may be paralyzed. An almost contemporary (1815 case date) account of dumb rabies in a Newfoundland breed dog can be found in The Veterinarian [3]. Byron aside, by reporting the outbreak of rabies in Newfoundland in 1815, the Lady’s Magazine scored an important scientific first.

Rabies is caused by a bullet shaped Lyssavirus. Viral ecotypes emerge which become adapted to and persist in particular mammalian hosts. Nevertheless, the virus can spill over into other susceptible species. For example, canine rabies causes approximately 59,000 human deaths annually [4]. A stomach-churningly accurate description of human rabies can be found in an 1807 issue of the Lady’s Magazine (LM, 38 [March 1807]: 152–56). The average incubation period of rabies in humans is typically between one to three months (range 10 days to a year, rarely longer). Once symptoms appear, the disease in people is almost always fatal. Only 11 survivors of clinical rabies are known [5] and more than two thirds of these have lasting neurological damage.

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LM, 38 (Mar 1807): 152. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / British Library. Not to be reproduced without permission

The author (Dr Motherby) of the article on ‘Hydrophobia’ extracted by the Lady’s Magazine recommended several prophylactic measures: these included immediate cautery of the bite wound, the application of a caustic substance to the wound or, preferably, excision (or amputation) of the wound site (LM, 38 [March 1807]: 156). Although Motherby offers no evidentiary basis for his recommendations they might well have worked. We must be careful here because not everyone bitten by an infectious animals contracts rabies (even in the absence of immediate action) and the risk of infection varies with the location of the bite, but well-regarded randomized controlled clinical trials from the 1960s demonstrated that immediate and thorough cleansing of the bite with soap (and some other substances) markedly reduces the risk of infection compared with controls [6], and thorough cleaning the wound is still the first of several steps in rabies prophylaxis. Dr Motherby goes on to state, that once symptoms appear, 2 grains (about 130 mg) of opium administered every 3 hours can relieve the symptoms but do ‘no more’. Other authors writing in the Lady’s Magazine were much more optimistic.

In 1816, Dr Vogelsang (of Goerlitz, in Saxony) claimed to have cured Ms Joanna Rosina of Hydrophobia by bloodletting (LM, 17 [Jan 1816]: 29). Ms Rozina ‘aged 19, had been bitten by a yard dog in the foot … Four days afterwards she found herself unwell’. Dr Vogelsang, ‘opened a vein’ and took, in all, about 38 ounces (over a litre) of blood. Ms Rozina, not surprisingly, ‘fainted away’ but subsequently was ‘quite recovered’. There are at two things that tell us this was not rabies: first, the patient recovered, and, second, the incubation period of 4 days was less than half the accepted minimum incubation period for rabies in humans (Ms Rozina was also bitten in the foot which tends to result in longer incubation periods for human rabies). According to the US Centers for Disease Control, 15 to 20% of dog bite wounds become infected and at least 40 different pathogens have isolated from dog bite wounds. If the cause of Ms Rozina’s illness was an infected bite wound (plausible, but by no means certain) there are plenty of pathogens other than the rabies virus that are better candidates.

Almost 25 years earlier than the article describing Dr Vogelsang’s apparent success, an anonymous contributor to the Lady’s Magazine (LM, 33 [June 1792]: 300) extolled the virtues of ‘Aurum palpabile’. He or she writes, ‘There are few political disorders in which it is not happily administered, as it generally performs a cure. The rabies patriotica (or patriotic fury) has often yielded to this remedy’. The contributor goes on to claim that it works even in very advanced cases of human rabies. Aurum potabile (sic) was a centuries old universal remedy: there is a laboured, jokey reference to it in Ben Johnson’s Volpone (‘Tis aurum palpabile, if it is not potabile’) and earlier mentions abound. For those interested in such things here is an eighteenth century recipe for drinkable gold (all metric measure are approximate).

Dissolve in a moderate heat half a dram (0.88 g) of fine gold, in two ounces (57 ml) of aqua regia (a mixture of nitric acid and hydrochloric acid), and add to the solution an ounce (28 ml) of the essential oil of rosemary (an infusion of rosemary in in olive oil), shake them together, and set them to rest; after which separate the oil by decantation, and add to it four ounces or five (156ml) of rectified spirit of wine (repeatedly distilled wine), digest them for a month and it will become purplish. [7]

An online search revealed that there are no randomized controlled clinical trials that demonstrate the efficacy (and more importantly, the safety) of this concoction for rabies.

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LM, 44 (Dec 1813: 586. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / BritishLibrary. Not to be reproduced without permission

Rabies was endemic in Britain throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries [8]. It was present in both dogs and cats. The Lady’s Magazine (LM, 14 [December 1813]: 586) reports that a servant girl in Camberwell died ‘in consequence of having been bitten by a cat, which she was chastising for some act of misconduct’. The servant died with symptoms ‘exactly similar to that perceptible in cases of the hydrophobia’.

The elimination of rabies from Britain began with various legislative acts in the second half of the nineteenth century that promoted and enforced the shooting and muzzling of stray dogs and instituted draconian quarantine laws. These laws were vigorously opposed by humane societies, but rabies disappeared (temporarily) from Britain in the first few years of the twentieth century. We do not know why. Such strategies have never worked as effectively anywhere else. It is speculated that the legislation succeeded in its aim because rabies in Britain never became endemic in foxes in Britain – fox densities were just too small to maintain the virus. It is certainly true that fox hunting in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries resulted in such a large turnover of indigenous populations that foxes had to be imported from France to bolster the ‘thinned’ populations [9]. It would be interesting to know if contributors to the Lady’s Magazine had anything to say about foxes.

Gary Smith

Professor of Population Biology and Epidemiology

University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine


[1] H. Tabel, A. H. Corner, W. A. Webste, C. A. Casey, ‘History and epizootiology of rabies in Canada’, Canadian Veterinary Journal 15 (1974): 271-281

[2] J. D. Blaisdell, ‘Rabies and the Governor-General of Canada’, Veterinary History 7 (1992): 19-26.

[3] Mr Youatt, (1837) ‘Animal Pathology. Rabies in the dog – symptoms continued’, The Veterinarian 10 (1837): 446-47.

[4] K. Hampson, L. Coudeville, T. Lembo, M. Sambo, A. Kieffer, M. Attlan, et al. (2015) Estimating the Global Burden of Endemic Canine Rabies. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 9: 4 (2015) <e0003709. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0003709>

[5] M. Netravathia, V. Udanib, R. S. Manic, V. Gadada et al. ‘Unique clinical and imaging findings in a first ever documented PCR positive rabies survival patient: A case report’, Journal of Clinical Virology 70 (2015): 83–88.

[6] D. J. Dean, G. M. Baer, and W. R. Thompson, ‘Studies on the Local Treatment of Rabies-infected Wounds’, Bulletin of the World Health Organization 28 (1963): 477–486.

[7] G. Motherby, A New Medical Dictionary (London: J. Johnson, 1775).

[8] P. Muir and A. Roome, ‘Indigenous rabies in the UK’, The Lancet 365 (2005): 2175

[9] A. N. May, The Fox-Hunting Controversy, 1781-2004: Class and Cruelty (Abingdon: Routledge, 2016).



The Lady’s Magazine Project at the Authorship & Appropriation conference (Dundee – 8/9 April 2016)


Beautiful Dundee, by B4bees on Flickr (click pic for link)

We are approaching that time of the year again. Every year from spring to late summer, Conference Season brings opportunities to learn about the research of colleagues working all over the world, to see old friends, and to meet new ones. This festive period lasts longer than Christmas time, and in many ways, it’s better. You get to talk freely about your obsessions without relatives and friends diverting the conversation to less esoteric subjects, and who doesn’t like a good wine reception? At the bottom of this post you will find a calendar of conferences and workshops which will be attended by Team Lady’s Mag in the near future, but in this blog post I will zoom in on an early event that I have been particularly looking forward to: this week’s Authorship & Appropriation conference at the University of Dundee (8 – 9 April 2016).

   As we have been telling you from our first post, gaining insight into the authorship of the Lady’s Magazine is a major goal of our research project. We soon found that the myriads of reader-contributors who supplied the bulk of the magazine’s contents did not just submit original productions, but also acted as intermediates who disseminated the work of others. Often, their submissions elaborated on or were downright identical to previously published texts by other authors; in other words, they engaged in appropriation. We were therefore very excited when we read in the CFP for this event that papers were invited on the “theory and practice of the adaptation and appropriation of literary texts”. Jenny DiPlacidi and I proposed a panel on ‘Appropriation as Cultural Transmission in the Eighteenth-Century Periodical Press’, which was lucky enough to be accepted. Ours is session 3C on Friday afternoon, in case you’re around and would like to join us! Jenny and I will of course be talking about the Lady’s Magazine (when are we not?), but this isn’t strictly a Lady’s Mag panel. Jennie Batchelor will unfortunately not be able to join us, but we were very happy to find a third speaker in our Kent colleague Dr Kim Simpson (@AmatoryAnon). Kim works on anonymity and appropriation in early eighteenth-century prose fiction, and has recently been exploring the afterlives of these narratives in mid-century periodicals. We expect that the three of us together will be able to do justice to the central role in literary history of appropriations from and in eighteenth-century periodicals.

   Most readers of this blog will know that periodicals were the primary site of literary publication throughout the eighteenth century. The number of authors who made it to the stage of getting their own books published was dwarfed by the myriads of those contributing essays, verse and short or serial fiction to the essay papers, newspapers and magazines of their day. Encouraged by a more lenient attitude towards intellectual property, and a smaller risk of prosecution due to less stringent copyright laws, magazines in particular liberally repurposed material from other sources such as books and competing periodical titles. This practice was often justified at the time as a form of cultural transmission: in the spirit of the Statute of Anne that limited the ownership of copyright to a limited period so that texts could later circulate freely, periodicals would have disseminated meritorious literary productions so a wider readership could benefit. In this period the distinction between repurposed content and original copy is problematic, because appropriated texts were often subtly adapted and subsequently with no qualms claimed by the author-appropriators as their own. The three papers in this panel discuss instances of how this practice of appropriation in British eighteenth-century periodicals contributed to the development and popularization of certain literary modes, themes and genres, either reading long-forgotten original publications from periodicals as possible models for now canonized texts, or, conversely, demonstrating how the legacy of famous texts was kept alive in periodicals through unacknowledged adaptations written by minor authors.

Jenny DiPlacidi: ‘“Full of pretty stories”: Literary Afterlives in the First Series of the Lady’s Magazine

LM, V (Aug 1774): p. 182. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / Birmingham Central Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

LM, V (Aug 1774): 182. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / Birmingham Central Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

This paper examines appearance and reuse of Gothic conventions in the fiction of the Lady’s Magazine: or, Entertaining Companion for the Fair Sex (1770-1832), analysing the fiction’s engagement with earlier texts and assessing its influences on later and better-known works. It argues against the critical tradition that has long disparaged the periodical’s tales as derivative works produced by amateurs to suggest that its fiction was a significant cultural form that reworked classical and contemporary tales to establish and shape eighteenth-century popular literature. For example, the short tale ‘Alphonso; or, The Cruel Husband’ (1774) reframes Boccaccio’s story of Ghismonda and Guiscardo, popularized by Hogarth’s 1759 painting, and, arguably, participates in a cultural practice in which classical works were marketed and consumed via translations later reformulated within the magazine. The History of an Humble Friend (1774-76), an anonymous serial novella, shares marked similarities to Frances Burney’s Evelina (1778) and Ann Radcliffe’s The Italian (1797). The serial deploys standard eighteenth-century Gothic tropes such as the reclamation of the missing mother early on in traditional chronologies of the genre. Likewise, its presentation of the sentimental orphan prefigures later representations in novels by Burney and Charlotte Smith. Stories like this, The Governess (1778-80) and The History of Lady Bradley (1776-78) are preoccupied with issues such as women’s education, laws, marriage and inheritance and the conflict between duty to family and self-autonomy; concerns central to eighteenth-century society that featured prominently – and similarly – in later canonical texts.

Kim Simpson: “Anomalous & Anonymous: Locating Links and Chasing Tales in Amatory Fiction and Beyond”

Aphra Behn, by unknown artist

Aphra Behn, by unknown artist

In 1723, Jane Barker, writing as Galesia in A Patch-Work Screen for the Ladies, spoke indignantly and scornfully of Aphra Behn, despite, in the 1726 sequel, The Lining of the Patch Work Screen, borrowing from her short fiction plots for inset narratives. One of these borrowings was from Behn’s ‘The Wand’ring Beauty’ (1698). Although Carol Shiner Wilson, amongst others, have noted this particular reworking, in 1723 the text had undergone another adaptation by the little-known Arthur Blackamore, which was crucial to Barker’s version. Reading these three versions together, this paper traces and analyses the transformations of the original plot. It contends that Blackamore’s rendering develops the disguised amatory heroine, foreshadowing later works that address proto-feminist strategies of dissimulation. Meanwhile, Barker’s self-conscious positioning of Behn’s romance tale alongside the inset narrative ‘The History of Dorinda,’ a reactionary warning about the dangers of quixotic reading practices, prefigures Charlotte Lennox’s  The Female Quixote (1752), as well as some of the concerns articulated by Eliza Haywood in her periodical the Female Spectator (1744-46). This case study explores the complex and contradictory ways in which the generative potential of the original was exploited by subsequent writers. It maps out influence between amatory writers, between early and mid-century writers, and between short fiction and the periodical. But it also makes a claim for the importance of lesser known and anonymous writers in this time period, demonstrating that despite our tendency to place known authors at the centre of study, a fuller picture of the array of understudied texts might demonstrate that they shaped and informed attributed ones as much as the other way around.

Koenraad Claes: “Poetics of appropriation: re-occasioned occasional verse in the Lady’s Magazine

The Lady’s Magazine (1770-1832) stands out among periodicals of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century because of the exceptionally large extent to which it relied on readers’ submissions for its copy. According to the scholarly consensus, the early years of this periodical coincided with the breakthrough of sentimental verse, and much of the poetry submitted by readers does adhere to what Jerome McGann has identified as ‘the poetics of Sensibility’: featuring a strong emphasis on the recording and communication of an individual’s ‘affects’, i.e. emotional responses to specific situations. Most of the poetry submitted by the readers to the magazine belongs to the subgenre of ‘occasional verse’, usually short lyrical poems that were meant to mark a specific event that had impressed the poet. However, research by the Lady’s Magazine Project has shown that most of these poems were not merely influenced by the leading poets of Sensibility of the period, but are undeniably appropriations. These appropriations often are near-verbatim copies of famous or more obscure originals in which only references to the absolute specifics of settings or addressees were altered. This paper will discuss how such loose notions of intellectual property could coexist with the valuation of emotional authenticity that is apparent from the poems themselves and from the reception of other work in this genre, and will identify which specific aspects of appropriated texts were adapted to detach the source text from its original author and publication context.

We would love to meet our readers attending the conference in Dundee, so if you are around, please do come say hello. Alternatively, this spring and early summer you will be able to hear us at the following events.

13 May – University of East Anglia (Norwich) – CHASE workshop “Periodical Studies

17 May – Cardiff University – Cardiff Romanticism and Eighteenth-Century Seminar: CRECS Annual Conference

7-8 July – Liverpool John Moores University – European Society for Periodical Research (ESPRit): Conf. Periodical Counter Cultures

15 July – Athenaeum Club (London) – Conf. Victorian Periodicals Through Glass

Dr Koenraad Claes
School of English, University of Kent