Author Archives: knlc

Pedagogy and cosmopolitanism: Reader translations in the Lady’s Magazine

espirit-logo220x150This conference season has been busy for Team Lady’s Magazine. In the past two weeks alone, we attended two events that we were looking forward to very much, because we were to soft-launch our index there in anticipation of its official publication in September: the annual conference of the European Society for Periodical Research (ESPRit) at Liverpool John Moores University, and ‘Victorian Periodicals Through Glass’, held at the Athenaeum Club in London. Writing papers and presenting them, and giving the hard work of your colleagues the attention it deserves, can be exhausting work, although I would be less tired if I had the discipline to go straight to bed after conference dinners. Furthermore, when the conferences in question are as good as these two were, they are also very inspiring. We went home with ideas for last-minute tweaks to the index, with a better understanding of how the index will likely be used, and with a renewed sense of how the diverse contents of the Lady’s Magazine remain topical. One subject discussed at both events was the importance of transnational contacts to cultural production, throughout history, even for phenomena that may at first sight seem of a strictly national interest. I am thinking in particular of the panel of our friends of Agents of Change (Ghent University) at the ESPRit conference on their comparatist study of female-fronted socio-cultural transformation across the European periodical press between 1710 and 1920, and the keynote paper by Prof. Regenia Gagnier in London (doubling as this year’s Sally Ledger Memorial Lecture) on the afterlife of Wilde’s Soul Of Man Under Socialism (1891) in publications of Asian political movements. These made me reconsider a fascinating aspect of the Lady’s Magazine that has as yet received little attention: the many translations furnished by its vibrant community of reader-contributors.

staircase Athenaeum

Dickens and Thackeray famously set their differences aside on this staircase (© Athenaeum Club)

In standard accounts of long-eighteenth-century print culture, most notably in the otherwise admirable history by Prof. Kathryn Shevelow, there is a strong emphasis on the domestic ideology allegedly advocated by the Lady’s Magazine.[1] Scholars sweepingly reducing the complex ideological debates within the magazine to this particular message may not have read far beyond the subtitle of the magazine, in which it styles itself ‘Entertaining Companion for the Fair Sex, Appropriated Solely to their Use and Amusement’. This does suggest a form of self-censorship calculated to reinforce strict gender norms so as to instil in its ‘fair’ readers their prescribed role in the household, and, of course, a secondary sense of ‘domestic’ is ‘of or pertaining to one’s own country or nation; not foreign, internal, inland, “home”’.[2] Nevertheless, as Jennie Batchelor has shown, the content of the magazine was much broader than this suggests, and for instance catered to the interest in other cultures and nations of a wide array of readers, most of whom will never have left the British Isles. There are hundreds of ‘anecdotes’ and ‘accounts’ of foreign cities and cultures, and many translations, often submitted by reader-contributors. In every volume of the magazine at least a number of items of foreign origins even appear in their original language.

Jenny DiPlacidi, who has categorized all contributions for our index, has made it very easy for us to find out how many items in French appeared in the magazine. Between 1770 and 1790 there were no less than 91 items in another language than English. Three of those are Italian, and all others are in French. While these relative proportions may be surprising, the choices of these two particular languages is soon explained. Italian was seen as a language of culture, amongst other reasons because it was the language of opera seria, and was additionally popularized through the parmesan-dusted verse of the Della Cruscans (also featured—need it still be said?— in the Lady’s Magazine), and shelves have been written on the enduring love/hate relationship between Britain and France. These items come in a variety of genres, but tales and conduct pieces predominate; two genres that are of course very common in the magazine in general. The items in foreign languages seem to have been nearly exclusively appropriations.

The foreign-language items did not only function as reading material on par with the English content, but evidently had a particular pedagogical use. Nearly all are translated by readers who submit their efforts for publication in subsequent issues. An editorial footnote stating that ‘a translation is requested’ often appears to encourage this practice. Over a period of a staggering ten years, between 1774 to 1784, loyal reader-contributor ‘Henrietta R-’ submitted instalments from Abbé Séran de la Tour’s Histoire d’Épaminondas (1739), and these were diligently translated by a cohort of other readers who kept up quite well with the pace of publication of the serialized original. It finished several years before the first one-volume translation of this work (a different text) is published, in 1787.

The fact that often more than one submitted translation of the same foreign-language original is published indicates that the quality of the translation was at least as important as the content of the original piece. It is clear that these pieces were perceived as a challenge by the readers, much in the same way as the many puzzles, and like these served to consolidate the magazine’s readership and gave readers an opportunity to exercise and demonstrate their ingenuity. In April 1782, a regular reader-contributor signed ‘Maria’ submitted an unattributed poem in French, which I have identified as an extract from Beaumarchais’s Le Barbier de Séville (1775). The prefatory headnote included by this reader reveals a lot about the purpose of this submission:

LM XIII April 1782 p. 216

LM XIII (1782): 216. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / Birmingham Central Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

LM VI (1775): 179. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / Birmingham Central Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

Let’s dwell on the ‘shewing’ for a moment here, and not just for its cool archaic spelling. In the earliest volumes the magazine had followed the custom of magazines to organize a monthly poetry competition on a set theme, and it seems that getting your translation into print was perceived as a similar, though less official form of distinction. In fact, this sense of achievement must have been the primary motivation for many unremunerated amateurs to contribute in the first place. For the significant number of schoolchildren who contributed, there may have been a secondary incentive, as I have suggested before. The magazine’s translation assignments will have been similar to their homework for language classes at school, and it is certainly plausible that tutors made use of the material in the magazine in their teaching, and proudly urged star pupils to submit their work as an advertisement for their schools. We usually get the most information about juvenile contributors when they furnish translations, such as in this signature appearing in April 1775 with a translation of a French item that had appeared the month before, tacitly appropriated from Pierre Bayle’s ground-breaking Dictionare Historique et Critique (1697-1702).

Although, as said above, the foreign-language originals were extracted from a variety of sources, pedagogical works (themselves usually largely consisting of extracts) come up especially often. At the time, language pedagogy consisted mainly of translation exercises, and most textbooks were mainly compilations of short French or Italian texts for translation, written in a desirable style and register that students could emulate in their own compositions. They were explicitly marketed as aids for tuition in schools, such as Peter (occasionally ‘Pierre’) Hudson’s The French scholar’s guide: or, an easy help for translating French into English, that according to Worldcat goes through 13 editions between 1755 and 1805, and holds a long list of tutors, masters and teachers of French based in Britain who endorsed the work. Extracts from it, typical light reading such as anecdotes comparing the ways of different European nations, were republished in the Lady’s Magazine. In 1785, to give another example, two fables by Aesop in Italian were published, that before had appeared in several pedagogical books dedicated to that language. Fables were a popular genre for such works, probably because they are as a rule short and are inherently didactic.

This is a good year for studying the links between translation and pedagogy in the magazine, as in 1785 one ‘J. A. Ourry’ also has a short spell of busy activity, contributing eleven items in French. Ourry was to write a book of language instruction himself, The French scholar put to trial, or, Question on the French language (1795), and, as his signature in the magazine informs us, he too was a French teacher, based at ‘Mr. Birkett’s Academy’ in Greenwich. Most of Ourry’s contributions appear to be extracts from recent numbers of the popular Parisian monthly Mercure de France, but he also undertakes an odd and seemingly original correspondence in French with a reader-contributor signed ‘Juvenis’ on a minor religious controversy, while another reader-contributor signed ‘Philomathes’ provides English translations for each letter. Assuming an affable but gently condescending tone, the teacher Ourry used the magazine to publicize his didactic skills, learning and mastery of the French language. This was a good plan, given the magazine’s inferable extensive readership among middle-class mothers.

All of this demonstrates that language instruction was considered compatible with the mission of the magazine to provide content that was suitable for a wide readership of both sexes and all ages. Of course, the fact that only modern languages were included in this scheme is telling. Latin and Greek were avoided in the magazine, even to the point of removing quotes from the Classics from extracts or translating them without copying in the original, as Classical languages were usually not included in curricula for female education. When the opinionated ‘J. Hodson’ contributed a series entitled ‘The Critic’ with musings on Greek and Latin philology, an editorial note complained: ‘How often must we tell this young writer, that his critiques are not suitable to most female readers[…]?’ [LM XIV (December 1783), p. 658]. None of the French and Italian material will have given offence to even the most morally and politically orthodox readers, but they are unmistakably a means of intellectual stimulation that encouraged male and female readers to broaden their horizons. The mind of the magazine’s implied ‘lady’ reader may have been domesticized, yet she could still be a citizen of the world. In May 1789, ‘M. L. B.’ from Hillington in Norfolk replied to a letter signed ‘J. H.’ (likely the same ‘J. Hodson’) of the month before, which had denigrated a recent French translation of Milton:

LM XX May 1789

LM XX (1789): 263. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / Birmingham Central Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

This vehemence is all the more striking as there was, generally speaking, no love lost between Britain and France in this period. I wonder what the tenor of conversation was, over tea in Hillington by King’s Lynn, only two short months later.

Dr Koenraad Claes

School of English, University of Kent

[1] Shevelow, Kathryn. Women and Print Culture: The Construction of Femininity in the Early Periodical. London: Routledge, 1990.

[2] ‘domestic, adj. and n.’. OED Online. June 2016. Oxford University Press. (accessed July 17, 2016).

Dentifrice and lotteries: advertising in the Lady’s Magazine (part 2)

Cardiff Castle; LM VII (1776): 428. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / Birmingham Central Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

Cardiff Castle; LM VII (1776): 428. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / Birmingham Central Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

As Jenny told you in her post of last week, the three of us recently went to Cardiff to lead a workshop at the first annual conference of the Cardiff Romanticism and Eighteenth-Century Seminar (CRECS). I second Jenny’s enthusiasm about this initiative and want to join her in thanking our kind hosts for their hospitality. It was not only great to test out new ways to discuss our work with an audience that mostly had little prior knowledge of the Lady’s Magazine; while we were there, we also had the opportunity to check the holdings of the magazine in the Special Collections and Archives (SCOLAR) section of the Cardiff University library. Despite their similar names, Caerdydd and Caergaint (Canterbury) are quite far away from each other, and I had been eager to spend some time in this excellent research library since Jennie on an earlier visit discovered in the SCOLAR collections some copies of the magazine with the advertisements still in them. In a previous post on advertising I have already explained that these are very rare. Old periodicals tend to be handed down to us in annual bound volumes, and usually these have been purged of all items that the binders or librarians deemed too ephemeral for preservation. SCOLAR has no less than twenty-six annual volumes of the Lady’s Magazine proper in its collection, plus one volume each of the nefarious but terribly interesting piracies of the magazine issued by John Wheble and Alexander Hogg, which makes it one of the most extensive holdings of material relevant to our project anywhere. I was very pleased to find that two of the real-deal volumes in SCOLAR did come with a rich selection of adverts.

This may not seem much to be excited about, but it really is: the copies in the British Library, for instance, do not have a single advert in them. My previous post on advertising focused on the few adverts in the one monthly issue of the Lady’s Magazine – itself a rarity – that we have in our own (also splendid) Kent Special Collections, but at SCOLAR, there is a lot more. Their aforementioned annual volumes contain adverts originally published with the individual monthly issues, amounting to 20 different items for both. We cannot be sure that no adverts were taken out over the past two centuries, but we may have here the harvest for two whole years. What makes it even better, is that the adverts we have found at Kent are from 1771, and the Cardiff ones from 1804 and 1805. Although, admittedly, two volumes are not a great deal to go by, we can use this material as a basis for hypotheses about changing advertising policies in the Lady’s Magazine, and because of the central position of this publication in the market, in late-eighteenth / early-nineteenth-century British magazines in general. These adverts, as they always do, also reflect British social history. What is advertised in a magazine is what its readers are expected to want to buy, and which commodities agents in a capitalist society seek to acquire says a lot about what sociologists after Pierre Bourdieu call their ‘habitus’; a set of beliefs determined by what they (consciously or unconsciously) consider to be their place in society. There is not much circumstantial evidence to verify what the magazine itself indicates about its readership, so we are glad to be able to study adverts to find out what readers of the Lady’s Magazine were induced to buy, or rather: buy into. From this we can deduct information about who read the magazine.

This newly-found material from the early nineteenth century corroborates our previous assumption, based on the magazine’s contents, that the magazine consistently spoke to a broad audience and took the middle class, and anybody who would aspired to be part of it, for its implied readership. The SCOLAR adverts all target consumers who have some money and leisure to spare for self-cultivation and for little indulgences, but do not attempt to sell luxurious goods or services that would be out of reach for the middling sort. Most of the advertisements, for instance, appeal to those who would improve their minds and their physical appearance.

The publisher B. Crossby advertised with a seven-page publication list, which includes books in all genres, refreshingly with no apparent proviso for the purported feminine perspective of the Lady’s Magazine as you sometimes find in female-gendered discourses at the time. Another publisher, Sharpe, advertised the ‘British Poets Series’ of affordable anthologies of canonical poets, and Cooke their series of ‘Cheap and Elegant Pocket Editions’; both again spanning a wide range of genres from belles lettres to popular science. Similarly, while Alexander MacDonald’s A Complete Dictionary of Practical Gardening (advertised by its publisher George Kearsley) may sound like a title on household management, it is in fact a popular-scientific work offering detailed information on botany, in the same way as the also advertised Topographical Description of Great Britain (Cooke again) provides knowledge with an application beyond the immediate domestic sphere. To accommodate the readership of the magazine amongst schoolchildren, or in this case perhaps rather their teachers and parents, publisher J. Harris offered the Original Juvenile Library with ‘New Publications for the Instruction of Young Minds in the Christmas Holidays’ (the poor dears). The Literary Miscellany flogged its reprints of literary and conduct literature though the magazine, and the General Review of British and Foreign Literature advertised too. Both were periodicals like the Lady’s Magazine, but operated in different genres and were therefore not direct competitors. Among the advertisements for literary publications, Elizabeth Inchbald’s twenty-five-volume edition of plays The British Theatre (1806-1809) publicized a work that will be familiar to readers of Jane Austen:

© SCOLAR, Cardiff University

© SCOLAR, Cardiff University

© SCOLAR, Cardiff Universiy

© SCOLAR, Cardiff University

Readers were encouraged to improve their outward sophistication and physical wellbeing as well. The early nineteenth century may have been a particularly bad period for dental hygiene, as two cosmetics companies chose to advertise their dentifrices in the Lady’s Magazine. Readers had a choice between Larner and Company, who sold ‘[p]repared Charcoal, a most efficacious and and agreeable antiseptic for cleansing, whitening, and preserving the teeth’, and Messrs. Pressey and Barclay’s ‘India Betel-Nut Charcoal for preserving and beautifying the enamel of the teeth’. Larner also provided ‘Cheltenham Salts’, a mineral powder made out of evaporated spring water for those who could not go to Cheltenham Spa to take the waters there. Pressey and Barclay’s notice comes with a long endorsement signed ‘James Lynd, Late Head Hospital Surgeon On the Bengal Establishment’ that looks like an article in the magazine, making this a Regency-era precursor to what is known today as ‘native advertising’. Periscopic spectacles formed according to the natural curving of the eye were explained with illustrations and presented as the latest thing in optics by purveyors P. & J. Dollond, whose offices, so we read, were near St. Paul’s.

© SCOLAR, Cardiff University

© SCOLAR, Cardiff University

Nevertheless, the most conspicuous advertisements in these two volumes of the Lady’s Magazine are for lottery offices. State lotteries are fascinating phenomena that played a huge role in public in the long eighteenth century, and they too exploited the aspirations towards upward social mobility then prevalent throughout British society. Lotteries were organized in periods of great expenses such as wars or when public projects needed to be funded, from the late seventeenth century to their abolishment in 1826 after continuous debate about their moral repercussions, which are discussed at length in a recent book chapter by Prof. James Raven.[1] Then, lotteries were much more complicated than in the system of the National Lottery, in effect since their reintroduction in 1994. In the long eighteenth century, they were effectively a form of financial speculation. Tickets were tradable instruments at the stock exchange, and most of the government-licensed contractors that sold tickets were concerns of financial institutions and stock brokers. Tickets could go for dozens of pounds each and were therefore only affordable for wealthy individual consumers, and this is where the advertisement in the Lady’s Magazine come in. Lottery contractors employed ‘lottery offices’, such as that of Thomas Bish of the advert reproduced here, who next to whole tickets also sold ‘shares’; a cheaper subdivision of tickets that allowed the holder to a part of the winnings if the ticket in question turned out lucky. Not surprisingly, advertising lottery offices would mention earlier success rates to attract punters who were superstitious enough to believe that one office could be ‘luckier’ than another. This Mr. Richardson certainly chose his associates well:

© SCOLAR, Cardiff University

© SCOLAR, Cardiff University

© SCOLAR, Cardiff University

© SCOLAR, Cardiff University

Lottery offices were in direct competition with each other, and because they were not allowed to offer discounts or any other financial incentive, they needed to outdo their competitors with such clever advertising. Eye-catching illustrations abound, such as in this advert for the rivalling office of Branscomb and Co, also in the Lady’s Magazine. The design with the ticket wreath that we recognize from the Bish advert is here complemented with an enigmatic picture of a boy holding a piece of paper. Some research has revealed that this must be a so-called ‘bluecoat boy’. These pupils from Christ’s Hospital charity schools had a prominent role in the complex lottery drawing procedure, where their innocent hands drew the winning lots. They are regularly depicted in lottery adverts, often (though not here) in contorted poses demonstrating how the regulations required that they perform their part in this ritual: ‘he shall keep his left hand in his girdle behind him and his right hand open with his fingers extended’.[2] Branscomb’s perky urchin is in flagrant breach of the rules.

© SCOLAR, Cardiff University

© SCOLAR, Cardiff University

The fourth and final lottery advert in the Lady’s Magazine is my personal favourite. Not to be outdone by his former associate Branscombe’s cutesy bluecoat advert, and nearly a century before the music hall hit “The Man Who Broke The Bank At Monte Carlo”, the inventive Bish inserted a song sheet into his next advertisement. This is one of many ‘lottery songs’ that appear in broadsheets and adverts at the period. I shall leave you with the first stanza, which you will please to sing to the tune of ‘Mrs. Casey’ (however that may go):

Of all the schemes ingenious man

could ever boast the invention,

there’s none will reach to Bish’s plan,

they’re all too trite to mention.

So haste and buy, your fortune try,

And wealth secure for ever;

The lucky moment may slip by,

It’s surely Now or Never!

 Dr Koenraad Claes

School of English, University of Kent

[1] Raven, James. “Debating the Lottery in Britain c. 1750–1830”. Random Riches: Gambling Past & Present. Ed. Manfred Zollinger. London: Routledge, 2016

[2] Qtd from unspecified source in: Grant, Geoffrey L. English State Lotteries 1694-1826: A history and collectors guide to the tickets and shares. London: privately printed, 2001. p. 21

When it doesn’t work out: a failed attempt at identifying a contributor to the Lady’s Magazine

In the past few weeks, the social media pages of academics have been buzzing with commentary on the ‘CV of Failures’ that was published online by Princeton professor Johannes Haushofer. Prof. Haushofer decided to be open about his failed applications for jobs and scholarships and his rejected journal submissions to show the world that even tenured staff at Ivy League institutions have to deal with disappointments, and to encourage junior colleagues who might wrongly think that they are somehow deficient as academics because of their own. Some commentators have dismissed this as a ‘humblebrag’, but I am too appreciative of Prof. Haushofer’s candour, and too impatient with internet neologisms, to be of their opinion. In fact, I have decided to follow suit, and to write a blog post about a recent failure of my own: the wrong tree I have been barking up in the mistaken assumption that it held the identity of Lady’s Magazine contributor ‘J. Hodson’.

    Jennie, Jenny and I have in past posts told you enthusiastically about our discoveries on the largely anonymous and pseudonymous contents of the magazine. In the last two months alone, for instance, we have blogged about Catherine Cuthbertson and Radagunda Roberts (about the latter even twice). Most of you probably had not heard of these brilliant women before, and that is precisely why we were so interested in them. It is very satisfying to find out more about these long-forgotten authors whose periodical contributions had more contemporaneous readers than any canonized novel. Finding out the smallest detail often takes a lot of work. Despite of the rarity of resources on eighteenth-century authors in general, and the especially scanty paper trails left by periodical writers, it can take a while to rule out all possible leads that you need to verify in order to close in on the true, or at least the most probable story. Often we do not manage to do so at all. Only last week I lost a few days because I thought that I was on the brink of an exciting discovery concerning a reader-contributor who has been puzzling us for some time.

    We can gather a few basic facts about ‘J. Hodson’ from the magazine. This contributor is identified as male in an editorial footnote and genders himself male as well, he is active (at least under this signature) in the magazine from September 1781 to February 1784, and the by-lines to a few of his items tell us that he would have been ‘14 years old’ in September 1781. As I have discussed before, juvenile authors regularly contributed to the Lady’s Magazine, and their age is then often specifically stated to draw attention to the precocity of their writing. Hodson’s contributions are certainly impressive for a teenager. He starts off quite blandly with two appropriated items, being a poem allegedly ‘translated from Ossian’ (September 1781) which in fact appears to be only a slight paraphrase of the ‘original’ by Macpherson, and a series of ‘Sayings and sentiments of wise men’ of Greek and Roman Antiquity (September to January 1782) which did not come straight from these fonts of wisdom themselves but were all gleaned from The Spectator (continuously in print in collected editions) without acknowledgement. Young master Hodson however finds his own voice the year after, submitting a generic but prosodically competent pastoral poem in March 1782, and in May 1782 a gallant poetic defence of the fair sex against a misogynistic letter writer.

LM XIV (Dec 1783): p. 658. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / Birmingham Central Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

LM XIV (Dec 1783): p. 658. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / Birmingham Central Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

    From June 1783 to February 1784 he delivers his most impressive feat, an essay series entitled ‘The Critic’ which consists of quibbling but erudite discussions of contentious passages in translations of classical literature. This is one of several cases wherein reader-contributors in the late eighteenth century continue the older tradition of essay periodicals (such as the aforementioned Spectator) as serial features in magazines like the Lady’s. Hodson’s ‘Critic’ may have been inspired by earlier reviews of the translations in question, or may have otherwise followed on views first suggested by others, but they do appear to be largely original. An exasperated note with the December 1783 instalment shows that the editors, for one, either found them too ambitious for the Lady’s Magazine, or wished to say in a polite way that they considered Hodson’s essays too much like the homework of a schoolboy conning his Latin vocab.

LM XIII (June 1782): p. 320. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / Birmingham Central Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

LM XIII (June 1782): p. 320. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / Birmingham Central Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

    Nevertheless, in the June 1782 number Hodson is honoured with ‘A Card’ from overbearing regular contributor ‘J. L-g’ (John Legg), a strange polymath who often gave himself airs about his importance in the magazine. Legg predicts a bright future for Hodson, and indeed it is not hard to understand why he would have thought so. Other young hopefuls like Thomas Chatterton and George Crabbe had contributed before, and probably many other authors of later renown who we have since again forgotten about. So who knew what bright career Hodson went on to have after his promising start in the welcoming, democratic forum that was the Lady’s Magazine?

    Unfortunately, the trail went cold instantly. ‘J. Hodson’ stops contributing to the Lady’s Magazine, or at least under that signature, in 1874, and at no point before or after seems to have contributed to other periodicals with recognizable signatures (which includes the variants “Hodgson” and ‘Hudson’ that appear in the Lady’s Magazine as well). Our usual searches through records of births and deaths did not yield much because there were so many young men named Hodson/Hudson/Hodgson around with the initial “J”, and it is always best not to rule out the possibility that the signature referred to a so-called “hypocorism” (calling name or pet name) or a middle name that the author could have preferred to go by. His stipulated age allowed us to narrow it down somewhat, so that we could query all men named Hodson/Hudson/Hodgson born in 1781 minus 14, or 1767 (allowing a year of variability on the date).

   This was when it happened: information on a certain Rev. Septimus Hodson in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography implied that this person was born around the same time as our Hodson, in 1768. With some rounding off, both would have been 14 in September 1781, and “J.” could well have been an initial standing for the Rev.’s middle name. Could they be one and the same person? Further research made me eager that they would be. The Rev. Hodson turned out to have been a minor public figure in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. He was an author as well, publishing amongst others a few books of sermons and some favourably noticed socio-economic pamphlets. In the early nineteenth century he married the Romantic poet Margaret Holden, who was friendly with Joanna Baillie and Robert Southey, and there is no reason why the Rev. as a boy would not himself have tested his pen by writing for the Lady’s Magazine on matters literary. Interestingly, he was also a controversial figure, as is demonstrated by William West’s memoir of early-nineteenth-century literary London ‘Annals of authors, artists, books and booksellers’[1], which states that his reputation had suffered from an accusation of plagiarism levelled at his first books of sermons.

From Septimus Hodson (Ed.), Psalms & Hymns selected for Congregational Use (1801), p. viii

from: Septimus Hodson (Ed.), Psalms & Hymns selected for Congregational Use (1801), p. viii

   If only that were all. The fantastic blog All Things Georgian by the historians Joanne Major and Sarah Murden recently featured a post on him, that revealed that the Rev. Hodson during the had been involved in a scandal after allegations that he had “seduced” a thirteen-year-old ward of the Lambeth orphanage, where he then officiated as chaplain. This is a big discovery as the ODNB does not mention these events, merely stating that

[t]he claim […] that he was forced to give up his preferments and flee to America ‘in consequence of a discovery particularly disgraceful’, seems to be unsubstantiated, although in 1789 he did publish A Refutation of the Charges of Plagiarism Brought Against the Rev. Septimus Hodson.[2]

   Although I was able to track down a few documents relevant to Septimus, none revealed any helpful middle names starting with ‘J’. Confusingly, the year of birth that the ODNB has for him, 1768, is probably wrong to begin with, as I only discovered a couple of days into my research. Major and Murden hold instead that he was born in 1763, which I believe is right, as this year is indicated in a record of his birth that is difficult to track down because its entry in online databases transcribes Septimus’s name wrongly as ‘Sephinus’ (which – wonderfully – is also a name). I suspect that the ODNB biographer based her findings on the Cambridge alumni register where Caius College alumnus Rev. Hodson is entered as being born in 1768; likely too a wrong transcription, based on the understandable error of mistaking a foxed ‘3’ for an ‘8’. It is a scary thought, but you cannot always rely on historical documents, and errors tend to perpetuate themselves.

    So, neither the names, nor the ages of these men were in agreement. How I wish that they had been, as identifying ‘J. Hodson’ with the Rev. Septimus would have allowed me to tell a sensational story. But hey-ho: though disappointing, this is not the end. There are other J. Hodsons publishing in the late eighteenth century. One possible candidate is Dr James Hodson M.D., author of theological tracts and the men’s medical guide Nature’s Assistant to the Restoration of Health (1789) which contains valuable hints on ‘a destructive habit of a private nature’. This is an amusing possibility, and this Dr Hodson would surely be a less grim connection for the magazine than the Rev. Still, I have found no substantial evidence to confirm or refute the possibility that this author and the Lady’s Magazine’s ‘Critic’ would be one and the same person either.

    As Prof. Haushofer wanted to demonstrate with his inverted CV: the important thing is not to lose heart. If you have any suggestions on where I might look next, I would be very grateful for them, and productive leads will of course be cited in our annotated index!

Dr Koenraad Claes

School of English, University of Kent

[1] William West, ‘Annals of authors, artists, books and booksellers. Letter XIV: Thomas Cadell, the Rev. Septimus Hodson, &c.’, The Aldine Magazine of Biography, Bibliography, Criticism, and the Arts Vol. 1, 1839.

[2] Kathryn Sutherland, ‘Holford , Margaret (bap. 1778, d. 1852)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. [, accessed 4 May 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

Stitch Off participant Lucie Whitmore on embroidering for research

© Lucie Whitmore

© Lucie Whitmore

Sometimes there are benefits to spending far too much time on Twitter, and I was so excited when earlier this year I saw tweets about the Lady’s Magazine Stitch-Off pop up on my feed. In this short blog post I will describe my Stitch-Off experience, working with embroidery patterns from a 1796 edition of the Lady’s Magazine.

I am currently working on a PhD related to academic dress history , but my first degree was in textile design with embroidery. I have created small embroidered pieces intermittently over the past few years, though often struggling to find the time or motivation without a set project. The Stitch-Off, so perfectly linking research with the opportunity to try out some historical patterns for myself, was the ideal project to get me sewing again. When Jennie told me about the Chawton House / Jane Austen connection, the incentive was even greater!

2. Stitch off samples

© Lucie Whitmore

I have had a go at three of the Lady’s Magazine patterns. I decided to think of them as trials, using different materials and stitches to see what worked best. My pieces will not be the most polished or accomplished in the exhibition, but I like to think they represent the eighteenth-century lady who loves embroidery, but was perhaps a little rusty when she started, and too impatient to go out and buy materials so made do with what she had already in her sewing basket! My method was simply to copy the patterns by eye, though I did sketch some details onto the fabric first with chalk pencil. The first two samples come from the pattern for a gown or apron, and the pattern for a gentleman’s cravat. I used white cotton thread on white muslin, I thought the combination was the most historically appropriate. The muslin has quite an open weave, which made for some fiddly moments, but I was pleased with the historical look when finished. The sprig from the gown or apron pattern worked much better, carried out in satin stitch, split stitch and French knots. For the cravat pattern I used chain stitch to imitate tambour work, but I don’t think it worked quite as well.

3. Stitch off sample

© Lucie Whitmore

I wanted to introduce some colour (and some of my own taste) into the next pattern I tried, the pattern for a gown. I used a lovely (but small, which I later regretted) piece of silk linen that I had lying around, and a combination of cotton and linen threads from my very messy embroidery cupboard. I started out thinking I’d just do a little bit, but over a couple of weeks I managed to complete the whole design! I used a combination of split stitch, chain stitch and whipped running stitch. When a couple of my colours ran out halfway through I decided to be resourceful, eighteenth century stitchers must have had these problems too – and they couldn’t just go online and order more! I was in agonies about how to finish the piece. It looked very rough and ready left un-mounted, but was too small to do much with. After a discussion with the lovely lady in my local fabric shop, I decided to mount it onto some beautiful white linen and add a little more white on white embroidery. Though this means that you can no longer see the back (I was sad about this as I love to look at the back of other people’s work, it can teach us so much), it completes the piece and gave me the opportunity for a little more creativity.

© Lucie Whitmore

© Lucie Whitmore

I have a long-standing interest in historical embroidery, but this is the first time I have tried following a pattern. After graduating the first time round, I worked in textile design for a while but was also the research assistant on a historical embroidery research project centred on the collections of the Needlework Development Scheme. The purpose of the NDS was to promote interest in embroidery and raise the standards of embroidery education. The project involved spending a lot of time with embroidery samples dating from the 16th century right up to the 1960s – which was obviously wonderful – but also interviewing people about their experiences of the NDS. We travelled the country talking to women who had been involved with the scheme, which ran from 1934? to 1961, and usually ended up discussing women’s unique relationship with embroidery, the importance of hand skills, and how much you can learn from these objects created with such care and craftsmanship. Hand embroidery is a timeless skill – and when I stitch I love to think how little the practice has changed. It links me straight back to the embroiderers involved with the NDS, and to the women who first attempted the Lady’s Magazine patterns in 1796.

© Lucie Whitmore

© Lucie Whitmore

This has been a wonderful project and I am definitely going to have a go at some of the other Stitch Off patterns. It has been especially exciting to see how many people of all different standards and backgrounds have had a go and shared updates on Twitter, and it is great that the efforts are going to be on show for the public at the Emma at 200 exhibition. While my own research centres on a very different period (the First World War, 1914-1918), I rely heavily on women’s magazines in my research, so working with these patterns has led to some interesting thoughts about women’s relationship with printed media and the possible material outcomes. For my next project, I may have to try out one of the dressmaking patterns from the war period!

Author Biography

Lucie Whitmore is a PhD researcher at the School of Culture and Creative, University of Glasgow.

For our report on (and lots of pictures of) the opening of the Stitch Off display and the ‘Emma at 200’ exhibition, please follow this link.

For information about visiting the ‘Emma at 200’ exhibition at Chawton House Library, please follow this link.

Shoe Conversations; or, what the Lady’s Magazine Stitch Off taught me about eighteenth-century footwear, embroidery, and community.

I study and write about eighteenth-century literature, and one of my areas of interest is representations of footwear and movement in fiction of the period. I have spent hours poring over artefacts from the era, so you can just imagine my excitement when Jennie Batchelor and the Lady’s Magazine project made these shoe embroidery patterns available, which appeared in a 1775 edition of the magazine now belonging to Penny Gore. I had to try my hand at them.

But what did I learn? What special insights did I gain into the objects I spent so much time thinking and reading about? Well, I learned that I had to try it out for myself, which tells me something about the need to physically and mentally place myself in another’s shoes in order to really understand material culture and its relationship to literature. What the Stitch Off patterns meant for me, then, was that I now had the chance to do more than just wish: I could also experience what it felt like to embroider an upper.

1And what did it feel like? The thing is, it didn’t feel that foreign. It actually felt pretty familiar and when it didn’t, there was a whole community I could turn to for help and encouragement in the form of the Stitch Off participants (including Jenny DiPlacidi’s post). Choosing my silks and colour schemes turned out to be a lesson in local needlepoint knowledge and resources, as shop employees helped me choose materials and became invested in the project. And I think that the sense of community and identity that it created for me and that the Stitch Off itself has brought to the surface also perhaps existed in different ways in the eighteenth century, but this is a trickier question to ponder.

Of course, the way I’d like to ponder it is with the assistance of the fiction I couldn’t help thinking of as I was choosing the materials and stitching the patterns. In Northanger Abbey (1818) Henry Tilney famously claims, ‘muslin always turns to some account or other . . . [it] can never be said to be wasted’, [1] and I thought of Tilney’s words when I realized how little of the silk material I’d need to create the two shoe uppers, as well as when the clerks at the fabric store told me that the silks I purchased were remainders from someone’s wedding clothes. I also realized just how easy it would have been to create silk uppers to match one’s gown; I didn’t buy very much silk, and yet I have so much left that perhaps I will make fellows for each of my uppers so that they don’t exist in such solitude.


© Alicia Kerfoot

Embroidering the uppers also made me think about the relationship between community and solitude. In Frances Burney’s The Wanderer (1814) the heroine (known as Ellis early in the novel) manages to find protection in Mrs. Maple’s household because her needlework is so valuable. However, when Mrs. Maple wants to bar Ellis from the rest of the community and considers casting her out of the house, the housekeeper protests because ‘some fine work, which the young woman had just begun, would not look of a piece if finished by another hand’. [2] This use of Ellis’s needlework first to make her part of Mrs. Maple’s household, and then to prevent her from becoming friendly with neighbours shows how needlework can be both community-building and a solitary activity used to control women. [3] I also like how it points out that one’s handiwork is like a signature, with individual styles and choices that cannot be replicated by another. If I do decide to make matching uppers for the ones I’ve already stitched then they will not be exact pairs either, as my stitches will not match my earlier ones.


© Alicia Kerfoot

Indeed, one of the reasons I became so engaged with the project is because the act of choosing what sorts of stitches to use and where (and being either pleased with or distressed by the results) was so engrossing and addictive. I can sort of see why, in Richardson’s novel, Pamela doesn’t want to leave off stitching Mr. B’s waistcoat, writing to her parents: ‘I never did a prettier Piece of Work; and I am up early and late to get it finish’d’. [4] I, too, felt a sense of ownership and personal connection to my work and stayed ‘up early and late to get it finish’d’.

Another proud and talented needle-woman appears in the 1754 it-narrative, The History and Adventures of a Lady’s Slippers and Shoes (written by themselves, as it-narratives were told from the perspective of the objects). The shoes describe the woman who embroidered them:

The whole town did not afford a neater work-woman, nor a prettier girl, than she, whose delicate hand, performed the needlework of me, —especially she had not her equal for cross-stitch—and she made her boasts with the lasses of her acquaintance, that she had never done any thing neater, and with so much expedition. I am sure, says she, they cost me many a prick’d finger, and broken needle. [5]

 I can relate to this! I did prick my finger a few times while I was stitching, and although the results are not exactly neat, I still have a certain amount of pride in my work and personal investment in it, not unlike the unnamed work-woman.

I also noticed that stitching is an activity that becomes associated with the physical context that one is working in; whether having a conversation, watching the television or sitting in a quiet room, the physical space becomes tied in one’s memory to the physical object. The shoes in the History and Adventures also take in the activities and conversations that occur while the girl does her needlework: ‘Whilst she was at work upon us, her tongue moved as nimbly as her fingers, with hymns, and love-songs, stories, jests, and all the effusions of female prattling’. (38)

How wonderful to think about all of the conversations that have happened over the embroidered shoes that museums and archives currently hold! It adds a significant cultural layer to the object and makes me think of the way, as Jennie Batchelor argues, the Lady’s Magazine encourages conversation and complex dialogue, especially about fashion. The young woman in History and Adventures similarly reproduces multiple and often clashing verbal texts while creating her material one.

The production of footwear in the eighteenth century similarly required different artisans to contribute parts to a completed project that was then shaped and individualised by the consumer. [6] In History and Adventures the ‘neat girl’ passes her work on to a shoemaker, who feels that he must match the standards of the embroidery, as the shoes put it: ‘that my other parts might be answerable’. Shoe-making required a communion between parts, and I do feel a little strange that my uppers will not be used to vamp any shoes; however, the fact that they are at Chawton House for the ‘Emma at 200’ exhibition makes them part of a bigger project and conversation in a similar sense.


© Alicia Kerfoot

Here are the finished products. One upper has been washed and ironed and the other only ironed (I learned that Douppioni silk does not wash well), while the undersides are quite embarrassing. I somehow never managed to get all of the stray threads neatly tucked under my stitches. I could not be called a neat ‘work-woman’ as in the fictional examples above. All of this shows my inexperience with the materials but also gives me something to consider the next time I am looking at surviving examples of footwear.


© Alicia Kerfoot

And speaking of surviving examples, I discovered yet another layer of community when I found these eighteenth-century shoes in the Victoria and Albert Museum digital collections with the 1775 Lady’s Magazine pattern adorning them. I was so excited! Suddenly the pattern became even more alive than it already was.


© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Left: Details of shoes in the Victoria and Albert Museum Collections, juxtaposed against my interpretation of the design.

The embroiderer had made so many different decisions from mine that I felt like we were having a conversation across time. She (perhaps the owner of the shoes who had spotted the pattern in the Lady’s Magazine or a professional who was hired to complete the work for another) had decided to aim the design in a different direction, with the stems pointing towards the tongue rather than the toe of the shoe and I realised that this assumes the wearer would be looking at her own feet, rather than expecting others to look at her feet. In my focus on dress as an outward expression of self, I’d forgotten Jane Austen’s narrator’s advice in Northanger Abbey: ‘Woman is fine for her own satisfaction alone’ (54). But this is not entirely true for the owner of the V&A shoes either, because I certainly gained a great deal of satisfaction from this absent person’s finery.

The thrill I felt when I found an eighteenth-century interpretation of the design I had just spent weeks replicating speaks to a sort of intertextuality I think I need to pay more attention to: when object and embroiderer and text talk to one another a connection is forged that perhaps links us not only to one another, but across time and space, to the hands and minds of those who had to decide between a chain stitch and a long-and-short stitch all those years ago, and to the objects that still embody those choices.

Author biography

Dr Alicia Kerfoot is an Assistant Professor at the College of Brockport (SUNY), where she teaches Restoration and eighteenth-century British literature and culture.


[1] Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey. 1818. Ed. John Davie (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1998), 14, 54.

[2] Frances Burney, The Wanderer; or, Female Difficulties. 1814. Ed. Margaret Anne Doody (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2001), 104.

[3] See Rozsika Parker’s The Subversive Stitch: Embroidery and the Making of the Feminine for a developed discussion of this complex issue, especially page 102.

[4] Samuel Richardson, Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded. 1740. Ed. Thomas Keymer and Alice Wakely (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2001), 44.

[5] The History and Adventures of a Lady’s Slippers and Shoes. Written by Themselves. (London: M. Cooper, 1754), 38-9.

[6] For a discussion of how shoemakers and journeymen collaborated and competed with one another in the production of footwear see Giorgio Riello’s A Foot in the Past: Consumers, Producers and Footwear in the Long Eighteenth Century (Oxford, Oxford UP, 2006).

For our report on (and lots of pictures of) the opening of the Stitch Off display and the ‘Emma at 200’ exhibition, please follow this link.
For information about visiting the ‘Emma at 200’ exhibition at Chawton House Library, please follow this link.

The Stitch Off: A Golden Opportunity, by Mary Martin

As a hand embroiderer working out of a home studio, making new friends and contacts can be challenging. Social media is wonderful for this, but can at times be overwhelming. When I first saw that the University of Kent School of English was promoting a stitching project with historic patterns, I became so excited as this was a perfect opportunity for them to create a sense of community along with the chance to do some historic stitching. I cannot begin to tell you how much fun this has been, and how many wonderful new people I have met online. There was so much joy in working the same pattern as one of your friends, but in a different way.


© Mary Martin

The pattern I chose was the left shoe from Penny Gore‘s set, from a 1775 Lady’s Magazine, as I knew I wanted to work with gold and silk. Goldwork is a type of embroidery using metal threads that is used in combination with silk shading. For the most part, the gold is couched over the surface of the fabric instead of stitched through.


© Mary Martin

Most embroidery stitches have been used for centuries. There are new combinations and new uses with materials, but the stitches have stayed relatively unchanged. Some stitches, however, are less common, such as the detached buttonhole stitch that I used for the center pink flower and the strawberries. Both have metal thread returns, instead of silk, which is also uncommon. Other stitches used in my piece with silk threads were outline and stem, couching, silk shading. The goldwork stitches are bricked couching, outlining and chip work.


© Mary Martin

I chose to work on a hoop for this project, as it was going to be worked quickly. Normally, goldwork is done on a slate frame to stretch the fabric as tightly as possible. The linen had to be taken off the hoop every time I stopped working so it did not leave a ring.  


© Mary Martin

I did try to plan out the project as much as possible ahead of time, choosing stitches and threads beforehand. Nearly every thread and stitch choice changed as I started stitching! The top flower was stitched five times in five different ways to ensure that it went with the rest of the piece. I’ve found that for me at least, part of the process is seeing how things look as they are created. I don’t get upset anymore if what I planned doesn’t work out – generally what I take out can be used in a later project. One of my embroidery friends always tells me that if you feel something should be taken out, go with your gut and do it. I do take photos before I rip something out though, so I can keep a record of it for later use.  


© Mary Martin


The embroidery was worked with the silks done first, then the goldwork. I chose to outline each leaf with a single strand of gilt passing thread, and then filled in with shaded stem/outline stitches. The couched circles were fun to do, and I believe I counted nearly 80 of them. I saved the ornamental gold couching for the end as that is the part of any project I enjoy the most.


© Mary Martin

After the embroidery was finished, I spoke to Jennie Batchelor and we decided that it would be best to mount my piece on illustration board. I wanted the piece to be able to be picked up by the tour staff, and eventually to be framed. If I’d have made it into a household item, it might become worn or get damaged. After the mounting process is finished, I found a nice fabric to cover the lacing on the back as that part always looks messy to me, and stitched it on. It was then brought to the post and sent on to Chawton House Library.


© Mary Martin

One of the biggest challenges for me in this project was time. I found out about the Stitch Off and made the decision to participate one month before the show opened. I knew I’d need 1-2 weeks for shipping over to the UK from Houston, and really wanted my embroidery to be there on time. Overall, I spent around 75 hours from the initial plans to the finishing, over a ten-day period. Actual stitch time was 60 hours. I don’t normally work this quickly, especially not with goldwork. What kept me going and working at that pace was the constant encouragement from my fellow stitchers on Twitter and Facebook, and I cannot thank them enough.

Author biography

Mary Martin is a contemporary hand embroiderer who works out of her studio in Houston, Texas. She has more than 40 years of experience in all forms of needlework, embroidery and sewing, and specialises in hand embroidered jewellery featuring goldwork and blackwork.

For our report on (and lots of pictures of) the opening of the Stitch Off display and the ‘Emma at 200’ exhibition, please follow this link.
For information about visiting the ‘Emma at 200’ exhibition at Chawton House Library, please follow this link.

Identifying ‘R-’, part 2: possible family connections in the Lady’s Magazine

One of the recurring themes in this blog has been our conviction that the much-slighted Lady’s Magazine occupied an important position in the literary field of its time. It offered some later successful authors with a first opportunity to get their work into print, as for instance ‘C.D.H.’ or Catharine Day Haynes who went on to publish novels with the popular Minerva Press, and, although a leading literary historian has dismissed its tales as ‘predominantly decorous, sentimental, and moral’,[1] Jane Austen may have disagreed. However, every single contributor to the magazine is worthwhile looking into, because even if they did not develop into famous authors in their own right or were the unknown toilers who paved the way for writers of more renown, through their minor literary, critical or philosophical interventions they all participated in the shaping of literary history.

   It is easy to get carried away when investigating these contributors and to romanticize them as characters in the novel of their own lives, as some did themselves. A great many of the more obscure authors to the Lady’s Magazine were amateurs and few will have received payment for their submissions, so I used to wonder what it was that they got out of their efforts. I believe now that this is a cynical question for a cynical era, that would have been duly frowned upon in the age of Evelina. Part of the attraction of amateur authorship was the sheer thrill of it, the fashioning for oneself of a separate, often hidden second identity that made a change from one’s daily routine as a shopkeeper or unchallenged Georgian housewife. Eighteenth-century periodicals can themselves be a lot like eighteenth-century novels. Readers of the fiction of this period will know that there you are often given tantalizing dashes instead of (full) names for the leading characters, who sometimes go by mysterious spurious identities at that. Investigating a magazine you soon find yourself wanting to know all about the elusive flesh-and-blood people behind the countless paper-and-ink personae, represented by so many partial signatures and pseudonyms, with as much ardour as (though with less imagination than) Charlotte Lennox’s Arabella speculates about the ‘true’ identity of Edward the carp-stealing gardener. However, when the heroes are periodical contributors instead of characters in novels, the desired dénouement is not always possible.

LM X (Jan 1779): p. 6. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / Birmingham Central Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

LM X (Jan 1779): p. 6. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / Birmingham Central Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

   This makes it all the more gratifying when we do find out what we wanted to know. Through our combined sleuthing we have learned a lot about quite a few contributors already, and we are adding these discoveries to our annotated index. Two weeks ago, Jenny reported on ‘R- ’, whom we now know for sure to have been Radagunda Roberts, a minor female author and translator from a family of intellectuals. Though now forgotten, she moved in prominent literary circles sufficiently to warrant her an entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, where she is included as “R. Roberts”. This note was very helpful for the research leads it offered on Roberts, but the fact that its immensely knowledgeable and experienced author Arthur Sherbo could only trace the initial of her first name, while her nowhere near as active and (from a literary and cultural-historical point of view) less important male relatives left more paper trails, is symptomatic for the fate of many female writers. It feels good to finally be able to fill in the gaps.

   That of course does not mean that the male members of the Roberts family would be irrelevant. Radagunda’s eldest brother Richard was the high-master of the prestigious St Paul’s School (London). She was also related to William Hayward Roberts, provost of Eton College, Anglican clergyman and religious poet, who may have been the “Rev. W. R.” who in 1785, about a year and a half after Radagunda disappears from the magazine, contributes a translated serialized extract from Juan Alvarez de Colmenar’s Annales d’Espagne et de Portugal (1741). This connection is as yet too tentative to dwell on, but will be pursued, as we are particularly interested in discovering relationships between authors outside of the magazine because this can help us to reveal networks for its many contributors. Reading and writing are social activities in this period to an extent that we are just beginning to understand.

   Another relative, present at least once in the Lady’s Magazine, was Radagunda’s youngest brother, (another) William Roberts. Jennie has located a birth certificate indicating that he was born in 1725, and an inclusion in the A biographical dictionary of the living authors of Great Britain and Ireland of 1816 which suggests that he at least lived into his nineties (if he had lived many years beyond that he would arguably be more famous). He is on record as having served in the military before settling as a tutor in Wandsworth.[2] Though not a professional author, he does have two books to his name: the essay Thoughts upon Creation (1782) and a slim volume of Poetical attempts (1784), both issued by prominent London publisher Thomas Cadell.

   The Thoughts are meant to prove that the state of the art in natural history and archaeology was in accordance with Scripture. It is for instance explained that ‘the eternal Essence, the invisible Jehovah’ inspired the invention of writing in the Middle East rather than elsewhere so that Moses could record the Torah,[3] and that, more recently, the findings on geography by the expedition of Captain Cook merely confirm the Book of Genesis.[4] While such views may seem odd several decades into the Enlightenment, they were by no means rare. However, the fact that Roberts went to the trouble of committing his Thoughts to paper may point towards a link to the then rising Evangelical movement. More hints about his ideological stances can be gleaned from the enthusiastic dedication of the Poetical attempts to Thomas Howard, 3rd Earl of Effingham, who in 1775 was the object of some controversy after his resignation from the British army in protest to the impending wars against the American colonial rebels. According to Roberts, Howard had hereby ‘manifested the true feelings of virtue, in rejecting emolument, when incompatible with principle’.[5] The Poetical attempts themselves are also intriguing, and for several reasons. Besides poetry by William Roberts himself, it also contains a poem ‘by Miss Roberts’, who could be one of William’s daughters Mary and Margaret (later literary executors to Hannah More), or indeed his sister Radagunda (unmarried and therefore also still a Miss). Either possibility would be exciting, but as the poem appears never to have been publicly acknowledged by or attributed to a specific author, we will probably never know.

Thomas Howard, by unidentified artist

Thomas Howard, by unknown artist

   In a roundabout way, the attempts have at least helped with the attribution of a poem in the Lady’s Magazine. In June 1781 a poem entitled ‘Nancy. An Elegy’ appears in the magazine, with the signature ‘E. G’. After I checked this item against a few online databases I found that it was almost identical to an unsigned “Elegy” that appeared in the Gentleman’s Magazine in August 1758. There, however, the poem is addressed to a ‘Molly’ instead, making this one of many instances in the Lady’s Magazine of appropriated occasional verse for which only specific details were adapted in order to detach the purloined work from its original context. So, nothing unusual so far, but great was my surprise when I discovered that the poem, in the decades-old version of the Gentleman’s Magazine instead than in its more recent version of the Lady’s at that, was included three years later in a poetry collection by the brother of a regular contributor to our magazine. It seems unlikely that the fifty-nine-year-old William Roberts, who does not appear to have ever nourished strong ambitions to establish himself as a poet, would claim authorship for an unremarkable poem that he had not written himself. As he was 33 when it appeared in the Gentleman’s, he could certainly have been the original author. There is furthermore another poem addressed to ‘Molly’ among the attempts to corroborate this theory. Several scenarios can be imagined for how the adapted version ended up in the Lady’s Magazine 31 years after its original appearance. As said above, reader-contributors tacitly appropriated poems from other periodicals all the time, not rarely from sources as old as this. It is possible that Radagunda and her brother were as surprised as I was to see this poem suddenly resurface, submitted by whoever it was that chose to be known as ‘E. G.’. Alternatively, William could have been toying with the idea to collect his old poetic trials, and maybe wanted to test the waters by submitting pseudonymously an edited version of this elegy to the Lady’s Magazine, maybe motivated to change it slightly by the inconsistent attitude the magazine showed towards republication from rival periodicals such as the Gentleman’s.

Hannah More, by Henry William Pickersgill (1822)

Hannah More, by Henry William Pickersgill (1822)

   Besides daughters, William Roberts also had a son, named (again?!) William Roberts. William junior is most likely the author of “Cephalus and Procris, A Tale, by a Youth of Fifteen”, also in the attempts. Years later he would write the first biography of Hannah More (1834), and, as editor of the Tory-Evangelical British Review (1812-1825), he has the unenviable claim to fame of being lampooned by Byron in Don Juan. We have not yet found any evidence that the third and final William or his sisters Mary and Margaret contributed to the Lady’s Magazine, but this may well turn out to be the case. Whatever we find out will be waiting for you along with our many other discoveries in the index!

Dr Koenraad Claes

School of English, University of Kent

[1] Mayo, Robert. The English Novel in the Magazines: 1740-1815. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1968. p. 188

[2] G. Le G. Norgate. ‘Roberts, William (1767–1849)’. Rev. Rebecca Mills. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004 [] Last accessed 14 March 2016.

[3] Roberts, William. Thoughts upon Creation. London: T. Cadell, 1782. p. 23.

[4] idem, p. 59

[5] Roberts, William. Poetical attempts. London: 1784. n. p.

The sources of appropriated content in the Lady’s Magazine: some tendencies in vols. I to X (1770-1779)

Already several of our blog posts have discussed the many instances of appropriated content in the Lady’s Magazine. In my last post, I discussed the methodology by means of which I try to find the sources of these non-original items, and a few kind readers have since humoured me by asking about my findings. Of course, everything will be revealed in our index, but I would be happy to divulge a little more here, by looking at some discernible tendencies in the first ten volumes of the magazine (1770-1779), comprising the first 3,173 entries in the index.

    As most periodicals of its day, and particularly those in the ‘magazine’ category, the Lady’s Magazine continuously lifted content from other publications. Often these were complete and verbatim reprints, but there were also countless extracts from books and from larger contributions to other periodicals, that were furthermore regularly edited or paraphrased, or assembled into Frankensteinian collages of extracts that together form one (not always seamless) larger feature. Reader-contributors as well as editors heartily took part. After I dropped a P-bomb in one post of last year, the three of us and some of our favourite readers had a productive debate within this blog and on Twitter (@ladysmagproject) on whether ‘plagiarism’ was a suitable word for this practice, and decided that we would avoid it, in favour of the more neutral ‘appropriations’. The term ‘plagiarism’ was occasionally used in the Lady’s Magazine, seemingly in the sense that we use it today, but like other authorship scholars we are wary of oversimplifying an inevitably complicated situation by applying a damning term to what really was a very common practice.

LM VIII (July 1777): p. 377. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / Birmingham Central Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

LM VIII (July 1777): p. 377. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / Birmingham Central Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

    In most cases, appropriation was not problematic from a legal point of view, although the ways in which it happens suggest some ethical misgivings on the part of the appropriators. The Lady’s Magazine’s extracts often do not have an attribution (identification of an author) or ascription (citation of a source) and hardly ever have both; sometimes they are surreptitiously detached from their original authors and publication context by means of spurious signatures, and sometimes translated, paraphrased or edited so as to make them seem entirely new. Adapted appropriations can be difficult to spot, but one develops a sort of fondness for the intricacy of this intellectual theft. You may have seen a similar thing happen to police detectives on crime shows.

James Cook (William Hodges - 1776)

James Cook (William Hodges – 1776)

Finding sources for content that you suspect to have been appropriated does get easier after a while, because certain patterns arise that are dependent on the fluctuating prestige of the sources or the popularity of certain genres and themes. It is important to understand that then as now, magazines were business ventures, and editors value efficiency in their task to fill their publications with content that the readership will appreciate. The editors and enterprising reader-contributors of the Lady’s Magazine regularly went to work a-cutting and a-pasting themselves, and it will come as no surprise, for instance, that soon after two book-length eyewitness accounts of Captain Cook’s travels appeared in 1777 (Cook’s own A Voyage Towards the South Pole, and round the world and George Forster’s A Voyage around the World), several extracts from both are published. For topical sources like these, where the name arguably was a selling point and nobody would be fooled by a tacit appropriation anyway, due attributions and ascriptions tend to be included. Recent books in general, especially when issued by the Lady’s Magazine’s publisher Robinson, were more likely to get some bibliographical details, in keep with the secondary function of the magazine as a ‘miscellany’ that digested recent publications as a service to the reader. Newspaper accounts of famous court cases were as a rule reprinted without citation because news coverage in those days was considered at everyone’s disposal, but during the American Revolutionary War the governmental London Gazette is respectfully cited when the Lady’s Magazine takes up its dispatches. This may have been done out of patriotic deference to this institution and because of the authority carried by the source.

    For older source texts there does not seem to have been a consistent attribution policy. Correspondence columns in the magazine indicate that the editors were regularly duped by reader-contributors passing off work by others as their own, but because the appropriation practices are so similar and we know so little about the magazine’s personnel, it is rarely possible to tell which signatures refer to staff writers and which to readers. Sometimes essays from The Spectator, over 60 years old at that point, were extracted from without any mention of their provenance, for instance in the essay ‘Sketches of the whole duty of women’ (Suppl. 1777), signed ‘T.’, which is in fact a verbatim lift from The Spectator No. 342 (2 April 1712). Other items do give credit to ‘Mr. Addison,’ or to ‘Dr. Goldsmith’ (whose essay periodical The Bee of 1756 to 1759 however is pirated several times too).

    Confusingly, as content circulated (almost) freely through the press, we need to distinguish between what I have come to call ‘direct appropriations’, taken straight from the ultimate source, and ‘appropriated appropriations’ (for want of a better term). Extraction necessitates a process of selection, and it is hard work to read through a great number of old or recent publications to get to suitable bits, so it was a lot quicker if someone else had done the selecting for you. The two most recurrent types of sources in the first ten volumes are publications that do just that.

    The most common sources for appropriation are other periodicals. You should not feel sorry for them: they gave as good as they got and many borrowed from the Lady’s Magazine in turn. When you are selling your wares in a market you want to keep track of the competition, and in the case of the Lady’s Magazine that meant other successful titles catering for a socially and ideologically diverse audience.  Which competitors a periodical appropriated from can tell you a lot about its marketing strategy, although in these cases there is only rarely any acknowledgement of the source. The most common source for identified appropriations from periodicals is the Gentleman’s Magazine (1731-1922), the pioneering publication in the magazine genre in Britain that was probably the bestselling periodical in these isles for the first century of its existence. The second most regular periodical source is the Gentleman’s closest early contender, the first London Magazine (1732-1785). It takes all kinds of items from these two publications and others like it, ranging from letters to the editor to poetry. Because these publications from their earliest numbers included circulating content too, the Lady’s Magazine often copied from them not second-hand, but third-hand or maybe even fourth-hand material. I have found instances where other periodicals subsequently took this up from the Lady’s Magazine, and a chain of appropriations continued that could last for over a hundred years.

    Interestingly, as with the essay periodicals mentioned above, decades-old pieces were often chosen. The fact that sometimes, in the same period, several items from the same volume of an older periodical are reprinted in the Lady’s Magazine, implies that the staff writers when pressed for copy (true to the evocative eighteenth-century image of the ‘hack’)   would randomly open an old volume and start extracting. It happens very often that an extract is printed – again often without any mention of its being an extract in the first place – that is traceable to an ultimate source (a book), where suspiciously the extract corresponds to a quote given in an article on the book in question. Essays on books in the Critical Review and the Monthly Review are regular targets.

La Maintenon (Louis de Mornay - 1664)

La Maintenon (Louis de Mornay – 1664)

For instance, in December 1778 the anecdotal piece ‘Striking instances of the charitable character of Madame de Maintenon’ appears in the Lady’s Magazine, without signature. It turns out that this item was extracted from Memoirs for the history of Madame de Maintenon and of the last age (1757), a translation by Charlotte Lennox of the French original by Laurent Angliviel de La Beaumelle (1755). The plot thickens: the exact same passage is quoted in an article on that book which appeared in the Critical Review 2.4 (April 1757). It is more than likely that the Lady’s Magazine staff writer who provided this item had not even gleaned it straight from the book, but just made off with the bite-sized morsel conveniently provided in Tobias Smollett’s periodical. For extracts from recent and more topical books, the magazine often turned to the then most recent issue of the Annual Register (1758-), of which the main interest was that it itself had selected the most noteworthy publications of the past year, and, conveniently for the Lady’s Magazine, it too often featured generous quotations.

    The second most common sources for appropriation are reference works. As we are still in the so-called ‘Age of Enlightenment’, encyclopedic works were popular, and these seem to have been the most frequent ultimate sources of the countless historical anecdotes and popular-scientific (mostly geography and natural history) items that appeared in late-eighteenth-century magazines. These reference works are tricky to trace with certainty, because just like periodicals they are to a large extent composed of foraged content, usually being a patchwork of translated bits from French sources and pirated older sources on the same topic. To an eighteenth-century magazine editor, extracts are like potato crisps: it’s difficult to have just one. When the Lady’s Magazine ‘discovers’ a useful reference work, it tends to make the most of it, and sometimes uses it without acknowledgement to supply an entire series. In 1771, to give but one example, the series ‘The Lady’s Biography’ consisting of potted histories of the lives of famous women from Herod’s wife Mariamne to Mary Queen of Scots, is entirely lifted from the anonymous Biographium Faemineum: The Female Worthies (1766).

We are of course not the only researchers who are fascinated by appropriation. Jenny and I, joined by our Kent colleague Dr. Kim Simpson, will have a panel on ‘Appropriation as cultural transmission in the eighteenth-century periodical press’ at the upcoming conference Authorship and Appropriation (University of Dundee – 8 and 9 April 2016). We hope to see many of you there, and will say more about our papers in future blog posts!

Dr. Koenraad Claes

School of English, University of Kent

Authorship Studies Now and in the Pre-Digital Age; or, A Tribute to the Old School

As Jennie reminded us earlier this month, we have recently entered the last quarter of the term allotted to our research project. Most of my time currently goes to the attribution of the countless anonymous, initialled and pseudonymous items in the Lady’s Magazine, and the ascription of appropriated content. The overwhelming majority of the over 14000 indexed items were published without a (complete) legal name for their authors, and every day I discover  more contributions presented as original work that are in fact tacit appropriations from other periodicals, or extracts from books. To make sure that I do not miss too many of the latter I merge my mind fully with my computer, like some bookish Keanu Reeves, and check each item by means of a hypnotic but productive procedure. A while ago it struck me how different my daily routine must be from that of scholars employed on exactly the same task not twenty years ago. So, where do the differences lie?

LM iv March 1773

LM IV (March 1773). Image © Adam Matthew Digital / British Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

     I usually work as follows. I consult the Lady’s Magazine in its digitized format hosted by Adam Matthew Digital, take two samples from different paragraphs in the item under scrutiny, and query those in three online databases: Google Books, Eighteenth Century Collections Online (Gale), Eighteenth Century Journals (Adam Matthew Digital). On occasion I give British Periodicals (ProQuest) a go, but I have found this more useful for nineteenth-century publications, and for news items I sometimes give British Newspapers 1600-1950 (Gale) and British Newspaper Archive (British Library) a whirl too. In short, I usually have a very cluttered desktop, but there is no alternative if I want to do a decent job. Different databases store different information, and it is definitely worthwhile checking a few. It is common knowledge that magazine staff writers in this period were a crafty bunch, but the Lady’s Magazine’s amateur content pirates can be surprisingly resourceful too, and identifying appropriated items is not always easy because the original sources often were altered ever so slightly. You learn after a while to avoid sampling the opening or closing paragraphs (often added to provide a new context for the appropriation), as well as passages with names or locations in them. In March 1773, for instance, an anonymous contributor to the magazine thinks nothing of making some very minor alterations in an extract from Louis-Sébastien Mercier’s Memoir of the Year Two Thousand Five Hundred (1770; translation 1772), and presenting the result as “A Persian Anecdote” to fit the trend for oriental tales. The original is not “Persian” or otherwise “oriental” in the least; it is in fact a utopian early science fiction narrative.

    You cannot trust eighteenth-century periodicals, bless ‘em, and I am sure that despite my vigilance I still miss many appropriations. When I discover that an item is an extract from a book, I will check WorldCat, and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography or Orlando (Cambridge U. P.) to find out the exact title and year of first publication, and jot those down too. After I feel satisfied that I have checked the item to the best of my abilities, I enter my findings in our annotated index, and go on to the next item. So doing, I learn more about the magazine every day, but like my close colleagues I sometimes get obsessed with individual items. Tracking down the minutest detail can take up hours, and often I never do obtain the information that I was looking for. Jennie, Jenny and I have of course pointed out many times that ours is a tricky task, because data on periodical authorship in the eighteenth century is scarce and patchy at best, and for the ascription of appropriated content we rely to a great extent on textual corpora that have been digitized for cross-reference.

     But, hold on a moment. While that last statement will likely not raise any eyebrows among my fellow children of the digital age, the old school of authorship studies will perhaps be appalled by my lack of stamina, by my not spelunking into the dustiest recesses of record offices and research libraries all over the United Kingdom until I have learned exactly what I wanted to know. Although I hope that I am not an armchair antiquary, and the scope of our corpus would make in-depth study of each single item impossible anyway, I make no excuses and do realize that I am spoiled. Of course, academic scholarship has changed over the past few decades too, or so I am told by colleagues of the generation preceding mine, who witnessed these changes first-hand. How many scholars today could find the time to research and write a vast bibliographic tome like Robert Mayo’s The English Novel in the Magazines, 1740-1815 (1962)? Nevertheless, this book is still used today as a reference work throughout the field of eighteenth-century studies. We at least turn to it regularly. Besides its sheer size, what makes Mayo’s study even more admirable is that he produced it before digital resources became available. The first of these appeared only halfway through the 1970s, and until the breakthrough of the internet over twenty years later, they were hardly easy to use or update.

     Despite Mayo’s greater fame, there is one pioneering pre-digital scholar whose work in attribution and ascription in periodicals has been even more valuable to me. Even in this computerized age, you will find me about once a week in the British Library, ensconced in a little fort that is constructed largely of books by Prof. Edward William Pitcher (formerly at the University of Alberta). I expect that most of our readers, who have at least dabbled in eighteenth-century magazines themselves, will be familiar with Pitcher’s work. In 1999 he was honoured with a well-deserved special issue of American Notes & Queries (ANQ), a journal which has long published his articles, in which a short laudation by Prof. Arthur Sherbo – no less – goes a long way to explain the importance of Pitcher’s contributions to the field.[1] He has published many indexes, articles and notes on the authorship and provenance of periodical pieces in all genres, which have for a large part been collected in the ongoing series “Studies of British and American Magazines”, issued since 2000 by the Edwin Mellen Press. Impressively, 32 of the 33 book-length volumes published in this series so far are by Pitcher (incl. two co-authored titles). The only other scholar to furnish a single-authored book, incidentally, is Prof. Emily de Montluzin, whose splendid index of the poetry of the Gentleman’s Magazine was an inspiration for our own index.


Joseph Addison, by Sir Godfrey Kneller Bt. (circa 1703-1712)

     Pitcher delivers useful emendations to the work of others (among which Mayo), new indexes of important magazines of the eighteenth century from Britain and (colonial and independent) America such as the Lady’s Magazine’s more conservative competitor the Lady’s Monthly Museum (1798-1832), and notes on individual magazine writers or issues in attribution. Because of its centrality in the late-eighteenth century periodical market, the Lady’s Magazine pops up regularly, and some titles in the series have proven especially useful to us. For instance, Pitcher’s The Magazine Sources for Interesting Anecdotes, Memoirs, Allegories, Essays, and Poetical Fragments… by Mr. Addison (London 1794-97) (2004) is an index of the thousands of items compiled in this long-forgotten miscellany (spoiler alert: the reference to “Mr. Addison” is false advertising). Not only does he document several pieces that were taken from the Lady’s Magazine, Pitcher also ascribes several items taken from other sources that in between found their way into the Lady’s Magazine as well. Producing just one such elaborate index would maybe not be very exceptional, but Pitcher has done at least a dozen. His two-volume index of the British Magazine January 1760-December 1767 (2000), to give another example, has likewise shown me the way to several articles extracted without acknowledgement in the Lady’s Magazine, as have several other similar titles in the series. A third particular Pitcher favourite of mine is An Anatomy of Reprintings and Plagiarisms (2000), because its preface and its several chapters that are each dedicated to representative case studies together provide one of the clearest introductions to the murky territory of appropriation in the eighteenth-century press.

     I find the tenacity and manifest expertise behind each of Pitcher’s studies, from his most elaborate indexes of leading periodicals to his shortest notes on the obscure hacks that helped make them, nothing short of humbling. Whereas I can rely on internet databases to show me the way towards sources and to provide me with instant access to them, the previous generation had to do much more work themselves. My practical advantages include that I do not need to travel great distances between libraries whose holdings are now but two mouse clicks away from each other, or to peer for hours at microfilms to find out details that can know be had in seconds. I also imagine that the old school required a more extensive working knowledge of their subject than I need to get by; a firmer understanding of eighteenth-century culture as a web of myriads of interacting agents that each leave textual traces behind, coupled with an amazing knowledge of what these diverse traces entailed, where they can be found, and how they should be interpreted.

     When our index goes online in a few months (gulp), you will find amongst our thousands of research notes many references to Pitcher’s works. This will be a fitting tribute to a scholar whose life’s work is to ensure that people get due credit for their efforts.

Dr Koenraad Claes

School of English, University of Kent

[1] Sherbo, Arthur. “E. W. Pitcher on Periodicals”. ANQ 12.1 (1999), pp. 2-5