Author Archives: ladys-magazine

Lost in translation: transnationalism and the Lady’s Magazine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Benito Feijoo

Portrait of Feijoo y Montenegro by Juan Bernabé Palomino.


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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr Jennie Batchelor

School of English

University of Kent


[1] Mónica Bolufer Peruga, ‘”Neither Male, Nor Female”: Rational Equality in the Early Spanish Enlightenment’, in Women, Gender, and Enlightenment, ed. Sarah Knott and Barbara Taylor (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), pp. 389-409.





Plagiarism (n): What other people do, or, The P-word part III

We have spent a lot of blog column inches in the past few weeks attempting to work our way through the quagmire of terms and ethical considerations that frame the culture of reprinting, repurposing, or remediating that characterises eighteenth-century magazines. The intellectual hand-wringing that has accompanied our debates about how to acknowledge unacknowledged republications of previously published material that appeared in the Lady’s Magazine in our index has resulted in a more pragmatic and, we hope, much more  accurate and historically nuanced view of the legal and, more importantly, moral face of periodical publishing in the later eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

But, as we have said before, we can’t ignore the dreaded p-word entirely, in no small part because the magazine itself did not. As promised, therefore, and in the spirit of full disclosure, I want here to turn briefly to the question of what these terms meant (and to whom they meant most) in a publication that not only made no bones about the fact that it would situate its original contributions alongside extracts from  ‘the whole circle of Polite Literature’, but that also insisted that such a move undergirded its claims to public utility (‘Address to the Public’, LM XXIII [Jan 1972]: iv).

So what, according to the Lady’s Magazine is a plagiarism? Well, not, as we have documented, when it reprints something with minor amendments, reframing and no acknowledgement. No: plagiarism is not something the magazine does, it appears; it is something that happens to it.

Plagiarism, in short, is what other people do. It is not what the staff writers whom we suspect The Lady’s Magazine employed to draft its non-original content produced. It is what the magazine’s army of volunteer ‘ingenious correspondents’ who provided its original content did when lacking in ingenuity or sufficient guile to pass off others’ work as their own.

No doubt in part aware of the dangers of throwing stones in its own glasshouse, the magazine could be forgiving of such crimes and frequently registered as much in its monthly ‘To our Correspondents’ columns from which source we can glean most about the magazine’s day-to-day operations. In the April 1773 column, for instance, the editor noted that the received ‘Verses to Miss P.’, and which  contained ‘a Translation of an ode of Horace’ was ‘probably a Plagiarism‘, but stopped short of recrimination beyond refusing to publish the missive. Likewise, in May 1772, the editor had reminded readers that it had ‘ever been’ its ‘endeavour to make the poetical part of our Magazine particularly pleasing’, to which end it requested with what seems like unnecessary politeness that ‘no pieces which are not originals’ be submitted to ‘that department’ (LM III [May 1772]: 226).

As these examples intimate, one of the most striking aspects of the magazine’s discussion of plagiarism is how little concerned with the practice it often seems to be. This is not to say that the editors didn’t occasionally wallow in public self-congratulation when they detected that original submissions had been fraudulently transcribed from elsewhere. When, in March 1789, the magazine divined not only that an ‘excellent’ letter from a contributor to the columnist, the Budget, who went by Clio was ‘printed Forty Years ago in the Connoisseur’, but that a ‘long Poem on Taste’ that had also been submitted was from a source that the magazine would not disclose, the editor(s) glee and superiority are not even partially masked.

More often, however, the magazine seems principally to care (perhaps was only forced to care) about the p-word when readers did so. Take, for example, the following, printed in the ‘To our Correspondents’ column of the February 1776 issue:

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LM VII (March 1776): facing p. 116. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / Birmingham Central Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

The blend of gallantry and threat on display here is an uneasy combination. The magazine refuses to name names or publish the full extent of the putative calumnies to which it is has been alerted. It wants to protect its authors against such imputations – to act in good faith – and sometimes went to great lengths to give contributors redress against such insinuations. When Constantia Maria, a contributor of historical essays to the magazine in the 1770s was accused of being ‘a plagiarist’ by the apparently unjustly self-righteous Justus, the magazine gave the accused, who had ‘never’, in fact, offered anything to the public as her own’ work, a right of reply (LM VIII, [July 1777]: 277) Not only that, they condemned the tactics and classiness of Justus in the ‘To our Correspondents column of the same issue: his attack on Constantia Maria is itself outed as a ‘plagiarism’ by the magazine’s editor, who pointedly declares also that he has ‘strong reasons to intimate’ that his composition – a ‘series of letters from a nobleman to his son’ is ‘not the composition of a nobleman, but a plebeian‘ (277).

Such acts of courtesy to impugned contributors extended only so long as it was mutually enforced by the behaviour of reader-contributors, however. If they failed in their part of the bargain and ‘put upon’ the magazine by trying to pass off other’s work as their own, then all bets were off, and in no uncertain terms. Such ‘literary robbers’ could be and deserved to be outed before the magazine’s readers (‘To our Correspondents’, LM [Aug 1784]).

If the magazine’s references to plagiarism smack of hypocrisy then that is in part because the stance is at least partly hypocritical, although as we have explained before, lightly edited reprintings by staff writers were a mainstay of the periodical press and seem to have considered, in modern parlance, examples of fair use . But the bigger story here, to my mind, is not why the magazine took the attitude it did towards plagiarism, but why readers seem to have taken it much more seriously than editors did. Another story again is why the act of literary plagiarism, like so many real and imagined vices of the period seems to have fallen upon women with a double weight. As a bizarre article from July 1794 notes, if the female equivalent of the male plagiarist is a woman who has lost her reputation, then a female plagiarist is surely the worst of all creatures on earth (LM XXXV [July 1794]: 352).

In none of the cases mentioned above (or any those I have come across so far) are readers who accuse other contributors of plagiarism aggrieved, as they would surely rightly be, because another has sought to pass off his or her words as their own. Indeed, even when writers did have such grounds for complaint within the periodical’s history, such as when the magazine in October 1773 famously published a song based on verses by Clara Reeve, without consulting her, the author’s complaint was not that her words had been plagiarised without her consent, but that they had not been borrowed accurately.

As Koenraad noted in his fine overview of the periodical’s position in terms of contemporary copyright law, occurs at least eighteen in the Lady’s Magazine between 1770 and 1800,  and there are three of “plagiarist”‘. Even allowing for the various words used by the magazine for what we would without hesitation call plagiarisms today (articles wanting in originality, literary frauds etc), what strikes me most about these statistics is not how frequent but how infrequent these terms are in the magazine’s history. For each full year of the magazine’s run, there were 13 issues, each of about 50 to 60 pages of densely printed content. Even if we generously treble the number of references to plagiarism to encompass any and all synonyms used by the magazine, 60 references to plagiarism in well over 19000 pages of content suggests that plagiarism bleeps much more loudly on our radar than it did on that of our predecessors. Except of course, when those predecessors (like Justus) had a particular if partly inaccessible axe to grind.

So where does all this leave us? The short answer is not much further from where we began. The longer answer is not much more satisfying. The p-word was a term in widespread circulation in the period and in our periodical, as in others of the time, was registered more commonly as an ethical rather than legal matter (although the legal framework should not be forgotten). It was also a practice for which there was widespread tolerance. When W. S. wrote to the magazine in August 1784 to complain vociferously about a plagiarised letter and essay (from the Wit’s Magazine) in the Budget columns earlier in the year, the editor acknowledged the legitimacy of the discovery before noting that August 1784 issue of the Wit’s contained a novel ‘stolen’ from the Lady’s Magazine. 

In the opportunistic, tit-for-tat world of the late-eighteenth-century periodical, reprintings, stolen pieces, plagiarisms (choose your own nomenclature) were everywhere. This is not to say that plagiarism doesn’t exist in or shouldn’t matter in our understanding of the Lady’s Magazine. But it is to say that the assumption that plagiarism is an intrinsically important matter without attending the complicated questions of how much it mattered, why it mattered and to whom it mattered is a least a little misguided.

To refuse to ask such questions is potentially to privilege a set of modern assumptions about the relationship between author, text and originality that we have argued numerous times on this blog have pushed periodicals like the Lady’s Magazine to the margins of literary history. Looking closely at the magazine’s vocabulary for things we think we know and describe, including plagiarism, for its contestations of arguments and concepts that we take for granted can be deeply unsettling. Nonetheless, we remain convinced that in the long term scrutiny of these issues in the magazine’s own terms and those of its time proves illuminating.


Dr Jennie Batchelor

School of English

University of Kent




The P-word: or, is it ever right to call a periodical a plagiarism?

The best thing about working on the Lady’s Magazine project is working as part of a team. I’ve worked with colleagues before on conferences and workshop series, and have learned so much from editing with friends. But this is really the first time that I can honestly say that I have researched collaboratively. It’s not the most common model for humanities research, and not all projects would require or possibly even much benefit from this approach.

Honestly, though, nearly a year into our project, I couldn’t imagine having continued my work on it without Jenny and Koenraad, aka my academic consciences, who keep me enthused and keep me honest by questioning my conclusions and nudging me to think differently week by week. We work together in a manner not dissimilar from the way that contributors to the magazine worked with each other: collaboratively, conversationally. Anything we say can be picked up and run with (or unceremoniously dropped) by anyone else. Our contributions to that conversation get better the more they are encouraged or challenged by others.

But like the magazine’s contributors, we don’t always reach a consensus. It’s not often that these disagreements are profound, but they are always important because they tend to strike at the very heart of what we think is at stake in our research and why it might (or might not) matter. The most recent of these few flash-points has been around what I have come now to refer to as ‘the P-word’: plagiarism. It’s not a term I find easy to associate with eighteenth-century periodicals, even though the Lady’s Magazine itself was not averse to using it. So what is my problem with the P-word, and why I am resisting its use in our index?

The fact is that a significant number of contributions to the Lady’s Magazine were originally published elsewhere. The periodical did not conceal this fact from its readers. Often such extracts were published with their original author’s name and the full title of the work from which they were extracted or republished in full underneath the article headers. Indeed, the magazine was quite clear throughout its history that it would serve as a miscellany of works from ‘the whole circle of Polite Literature’ as appeared to the editor or editors to ‘merit their readers’ attention’, as well as providing a forum for the numerous original and amusing communications which we continually receive from our ingenious and liberal correspondents’ (‘Address to the Public’, LM XXIII [Jan 1972]: iv).

Rather more has been made in the slender body of scholarship on the Lady’s Magazine, including my own, about these ‘original and amusing communications’ than its miscellany content. There are, I think, good reasons for this. The tantalising prospect and, as this blog has already demonstrated several times over, the satisfying reality of locating previously widely-read texts by largely unknown authors such as C. D. Haynes (later Golland), John and Elizabeth Legg, Catharine Bremen Yeames and Elizabeth Yeames and John Webb recalibrates our sense of the authorial landscape in our period in ways that I still believe are potentially far-reaching in their implications.

That said, we overlook the miscellany content at our peril. Apart from simply filling so many of the magazine’s pages, this material gives us clues as to the shifting priorities of the magazine as it shaped or responded to oscillations in literary taste and notions of female education, for instance. It also provides clues as to how published works were disseminated and received by their readers. Knowing that some selections from Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) made it into the magazine in June 1792 might seem only to confirm things we already knew: for instance, that Wollstonecraft’s work was part of the public consciousness immediately after its publication; and that the Lady’s Magazine‘s publisher, George Robinson, was sympathetic to the Jacobin cause.

LM VXIII (June 1792): 285. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / Birmingham Central Librarr. Not to be reproduced without permission.

LM VXIII (June 1792): 285. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / Birmingham Central Librarr. Not to be reproduced without permission.s

But only reading these extracts will tell you which aspects of Wollstonecraft’s work – her condemnation of false modesty and excessively sensibility – were deemed most worthy of the attention of the magazine’s readers. Moreover, only engaging with this content will give an indication of how the material might have been read. Given that many readers only engagement with Wollstonecraft’s work likely derived from the extracts printed in the popular press, examining such extracts as extracts is an important part of building up a sense of her work’s early reception history. If a reader’s engagement with Wollstonecraft’s work was confined only to these extracts, how does A Vindication of the Rights of Woman read? What does it seem most to be about?

The questions that arise from the publication of such extracts would merit a whole series of blog posts or book chapters of their own. Instead I want to focus briefly here on another kind of extract the magazine publishes: extracts that aren’t acknowledged as such.

As Koenraad has recently explained, he is currently doing battle with the herculean task of seeking out whether seemingly original (because not acknowledged as unoriginal) articles in the Lady’s Magazine were, in fact, written expressly for it. So far, he has identified a number of sources (some unexpected!) for material in the magazine. Some of this material has no signature underneath it; some of it appears with a pseudonym and therefore might seem to be the work of one of the reader-contributors about which we (OK, I) get so excited. Neither of these things is the case.

But are these plagiarisims? The short answer is: I don’t think so.

Plagiarism is a notoriously difficult term to pin down or prove in the eighteenth century and Romantic period. As Tilar Mazzeo’s wonderful book Plagiarism and Property in the Romantic  (2007) elucidates, plagiarism was not a criminally chargeable offence with ‘direct legal consequences’ in the period (10), and was often considered more of an aesthetic rather than moral or legal question. Throughout her book, Mazzeo distinguishes between ‘culpable’ and ‘aesthetic’ plagiarism. Culpable plagiarism is unacknowledged yet conscious – a definition that chimes with our own modern sense of what constitutes literary fraud –  but arguably more important is that culpably plagiarised work is unimproved. Work that has been improved, taken and reworked or repurposed by another hand, is arguably not plagiarised at all [1].

Now if all of this sounds a little murky, it is because it is. Even the most cursory overview of scholarship on the Rowley (Chatterton) or Ossian controversies will point to how internecine these issues were in our period. But add magazines into the mix and it gets a whole lot muddier still.

Histories of copyright and plagiarism offer fascinating context for thinking about the status of unacknowledged, repurposed content in periodicals such as the Lady’s Magazine. Ultimately, however, their general failure to address periodicals as a genre leaves important questions hanging: How were eighteenth-century and Romantic periodicals understood to function in terms of copyright law? Were they, as the magazines themselves often claimed, a special case? And if so, is it at all appropriate to use a word like plagiarism in the same breath as periodicals.

Returning to Mazzeo’s helpful definition for a moment, I can’t really bring myself to do so for several reasons, only some of which I have space to elaborate below.

The first is the difficulty we sometimes experience in trying to establish the original iteration of a work we suspect has been published before it appeared in the Lady’s Magazine. In this digital age, it is, of course, much easier to find previously printed sources for magazine content through search engines or online databases than was once the case. (Note to self: remember, though, that the internet should not be mistaken for a complete archive.) Sometimes the answers obtained from such sources are only partly helpful, however. Often magazine contributions appeared simultaneously or near simultaneously in multiple periodicals. Finding out that a poem appeared in the Lady’s Magazine and the Town and Country (another Robinson publication) or The Gentleman’s Magazine (not a Robinson publication) in the same month tells us nothing about the originality of the work or what its author’s intentions for it were.

Then there is the imaginativeness that needs to be deployed to find some contributions we suspect might not be original to the magazine. Koenraad has already written about this and I hope will do so more as the project develops, but the inventiveness he shows in digitally searching for textual originals (omitting character names, as sometimes these were changed, or finding synonyms for keywords) knows no bounds. But it also leaves me pondering: if a text, while essentially the same in terms of argument, structure, subject or narrative, has names changed, parts excised or keywords altered, can it legitimately be called a plagiarism? Isn’t this a rewritten work. At the very least, while such changes may have be made wilfully, the ‘improvements’ made to the original certainly seem to leave its ‘author’ immune to the accusation of culpable plagiarism as defined by Mazzeo.

Another reservation I have about the P-word when talking about magazines from this period is cultural. For one thing, we know that eighteenth-century novels constantly reworked each others plots, often relying upon readers’ recognition of stock character types or conventional names or plot devices to raise or subvert expectations that would excite readers’ sympathy, fear or horror. For another, intertextual referencing or allusion are commonplace in all textual genres throughout the period, and there was clearly a huge degree of tolerance for (cough-cough) variations in accuracy of citation.

But periodicals are, nonetheless, something of a special case. People reading eighteenth-century and Romantic magazines did not expect to be reading wholly original content. Nor did contributors to magazines always feel they had to be original in their submissions. A common type of submission to the Lady’s Magazine is what I refer to as the commonplace: of a reader who reads a book, the title of which they may or may not remember or disclose, or which they have found in another, sometimes unacknowledged publication, but they find particularly noteworthy for whatever reason and from which they excerpt extracts they send to the magazine for republication.

There are at least two possible ways of reading this practice. It could, and in some cases likely often was, a ruse, whereby staff writers used this convention to recycle already published material in a way that didn’t seem culpably plagiaristic. At other times, these may well have been genuine instances of readers wanting to share with others works they found particularly notable, relevant, or interesting and, in the process, implicitly to declare their own readerly credentials. These kinds of submissions are ones that I would like to return to in a future post. In this context, though, they speak to the widely perceived acceptability of repurposed content, repackaged by a third party, in contemporary magazines.

But I would go further than this. Generically, periodicals (especially magazines as opposed to, say, the essay-periodical) don’t work in the same way as other genres. If, as David Mazella has recently explained, the magazine is a genre, then it is a unique one, one that ‘by definition consumes other, smaller genres or microgenres and presents a temporally segmented selection of content on a regular basis’ [2]. When an extract from a previously published work – a biography, an anecdote, a meditation on good conduct – appear in extracted form in a magazine like the Lady’s,  it becomes something different from what it previously was. Whether it is ‘improved’ or not by its reiteration is a judgement call about which we might not all agree. Even so, it is surely true that the status of the extract, by virtue of its remediation within the magazine genre, is fundamentally different than in its original format even if its wording is substantively or even exactly the same. The Vindication of the Rights of Woman that appears in the Lady’s Magazine, a magazine that also published acknowledged extracts from works of James Fordyce, Dr. Gregory and Jean Jacques-Rousseau that Wollstonecraft held were paradigmatic of the degraded state of woman, is not the same work that Wollstonecraft penned. It reads differently.

These, and many other issues besides, have been discussed at length by the three of us in recent weeks as we establish our terminology for indicating repurposed / recycled / remediated / plagiarised material. It’s led to some lively debate and an extended conversation with some of our followers on Twitter on the @ladysmagazineproject feed and on my own personal Twitter feed (@jenniebatchelor).

Our resolution, for now at least, is to opt for the phrasing  ‘previously published’ to divest from our own terminology the legal and moral implications of the term plagiarism, which may well be anachronistic for our period, especially when referring to periodicals. The solution might seem cowardly or non-committal, but I don’t see it that way. Instead, I see it as a pragmatic, historically sensitive stance on an important issue. The question of why, I think, it matters so much is one I will return to in my next blog post in a few weeks’ time.

As always, I’d love to know your thoughts on this!


Jennie Batchelor

School of English

University of Kent

[1] Tilar J. Mazzeo, Plagiarism and Literary Property in the Romantic Period (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007).

[2] I am very grateful to Professor Mazella for sharing his paper ‘Temporality, Microgenres, Authorship and The Lady’s Magazine’, which was delivered at the ASECS 2015 conference.









Living in Periodicals: the curious case of the two Charlotte Richardsons

We have written before about some of the many difficulties involved in identifying writers published in the Lady’s Magazine. A few weeks ago I was confronted with an oddity that was a new one to me, even after working with the periodical for such a long time: two women with near identical signatures whom I was convinced were different people.

Disambiguating (to use a term Wikipedia is fond of) signatures of contributors to eighteenth- and nineteenth-century periodicals is a knotty problem. It’s very likely, for instance, that generic signatures like A. Z. or Leonora were used by multiple individuals over time or even at the same time. To complicate matters further, we also know that the signatures of a single individual could be variously presently over the course of several months or years or even in a single issue of the magazine. The prolific early nineteenth-century prose and poetic contributor James Murray Lacey, for example, went by Mr. J. M. Lacey, Esq, J. M. Lacey, J. M. L. and possibly J. M. (author of many poems in the 1800s). Internal and external evidence can help resolve these riddles, but sometimes we just can’t be sure that we can definitively link all contributions by a single author. There is also, of course, the danger that we may attribute contributions to an author on the basis of such circumstantial evidence where, in reality, their authors were two or more different people. J. M. may well be James Murray Lacey. But he may also be John Mayne, another regular poetic contributor in the same years. Or J. M. may be someone else entirely.

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LM XLI (Aug 1810): 376. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / British l Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

My own disambiguation conundrum began when reading the poetry section of the August 1810 issue of the Lady’s Magazine. Something intrigued me about the “Lines by C. C. R.”: talent; a distinctive voice. I idly wonder who s/he was (a Charles Rowley or Clara Robinson, I pondered), but setting aside my feminist concerns about essentialist assumptions for a moment, I was convinced that C. C. R. was a young woman. And then I remembered a poet whose work had appeared in the magazine a couple of years before: a Charlotte Richardson whose ‘Stanzas by Charlotte Richardson’ had been published in August 1808 and who had been addressed in a sonnet in the same year by none other than the hardworking J. M. L. Could C. C. R. of Hinderwell and Charlotte Richardson be the same person?

A cursory skim through the magazine provided some clues. C. C. R. was, indeed, a woman and, to top it all, a woman whose surname was Richardson. All was revealed in a poem entitled  ‘Lines respectfully addressed to Miss C. C. Richardson, Hinderwell’ by fellow contributor Joanna Squire in the September 1811 issue (LM [Sept 1811]: 429). But I just couldn’t believe that this Charlotte Richardson and and Charlotte Richardson of the 1808 ‘Stanzas’ were one and the same. The tone and style of the poems that appeared above these signatures were too different.

I knew from a previous life of mine that Hinderwell is in North Yorkshire. So, I started googling ‘Charlotte Richardson’ and ‘Yorkshire’ and initially found several references to a Charlotte Richardson (nee Smith, 1775-1825) who had attended the Grey Coat School in York before entering service and who had developed an improbable but undeniable talent for poetry. Widowed as a young woman, with a child to feed and poverty stricken, this natural genius had been discovered and patronised by the philanthropist Catharine Cappe, who raised a subscription to have some of Charlotte Richardson’s verse published.

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LM XLII (Oct 1811): 477. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / British l Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

All this sounded very familiar. I went back to my notes on the magazine and found a biography of Richardson authored by Cappe and published in the Lady’s Magazine in September 1805 (LM [Sept 1805]: 477-79). How could I have forgotten that Cappe had written to the Lady’s Magazine alongside the Gentleman’s and a select group of other leading periodicals to help her raise subscriptions to see a volume of Richardson’s verse into the press? It duly appeared as Poems on Different Occasions in 1806.

Was Charlotte Richardson C. C. Richardson? I didn’t think so. I couldn’t find any evidence that Charlotte Richardson had a middle name at all, least of all one beginning with a C. But I found the answer I was looking for soon enough. C. C. Richardson of Hinderwell was in fact Charlotte Richardson. Just not the same Charlotte Richardson.

Charlotte Caroline Richardson (1796-1854) did live in Yorkshire, but was born in Lambeth, and led a very different life from her fellow poet. She was the daughter of Robert (died 1804) and Elizabeth Richardson (1760-1841), both of whom were poets, and had two siblings, Elizabeth (yet another poet) and Eleanor. For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, Charlotte, who would become the most successful writer in her family, was sent to live with her aunt in Hinderwell, Yorkshire, as a child. In 1817 she returned to live with her long-since widowed mother, now running a school in Vauxhall. The place names that sometimes appear alongside her signatures in the Lady’s Magazine chart this move. That same year, she published Waterloo, a Poem on the Late Victory and a book of children’s verse entitled Isaac and Rebecca. Until 1818, she regularly submitted poems to the Lady’s Magazine, although none of the biographical sources I have identified mention this fact. [1] The only poem to appear under her full legal name in the magazine was ‘Hymn on the Death of her Most Gracious Majesty’ which appeared in the December 1818 issue (LM [Dec 1818]: 575). Other poetic volumes followed, as did the Robinson-published Gothic novel The Soldier’s Child, or Virtue Triumphant (1823). Four years later she married a John Richardson. A woman whose name had so perplexed me didn’t even complicate things by getting married and changing it. I couldn’t have forgiven myself if I hadn’t been able to identify her!

What interests me about the two Charlotte Richardsons is not just their writing, but the complex ways that their lives and writings are woven together in the rich if not always evenly sewn tapestry of the magazine. In a rather different way to the natural genius Charlotte Richardson, whose brutalising life story as well as sentimental verse was regaled before Lady’s and Gentleman’s Magazine readers, Charlotte Caroline Richardson’s life was a life lived in periodicals. Her father, a regular contributor to the long-running almanack The Ladies Diary (1704-1841), courted her mother, fellow contributor, Betty Smales, in its pages in flirtatious poetry before tracking down her location and eventually persuading her to marry him. Charlotte Caroline Richardson and her sister Elizabeth would also both publish poems in the Diary, although my initial researches suggest that none of the poems that Charlotte sent to the Lady’s Magazine were published in the Ladies’ Diary. Poetry submitted to both periodicals later appeared with other works in her Harvest, a Poem in Two Parts, With other Poetical Pieces (1818), a volume dedicated to the Ladies’ Diary‘s editor, Charles Hutton. 

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The Ladies’ Diary; or, Woman’s Almanack, For the Year of our Lord 1815, 112: 21.

She had reason to be grateful to Hutton. For it was in his annual, in 1815, in a poem entitled ‘The Redbreast’s Fate’ about a ‘shivering’ robin caught in a storm and nurtured by the poet before being killed by a cat, that (however improbably it may sound) a reconciliation between Charlotte and her estranged mother was achieved. Perhaps it was these lines that affected Elizabeth to write back to her daughter: ‘So oft in life’s uneven way,/ Some stroke may intervene,/ Sweep all our fancied joys away/ And change the once-lov’d scene.’ [2]. In the next year’s number, Elizabeth addressed her daughter in a poem that begins by hailing her daughter’s literary talent and mourning the loss of her spouse, and Charlotte’s father, whose ‘numbers’ had ‘Long […] graved Diaria’s page’ [3]. Touched by Charlotte’s words Elizabeth vowed to ‘clasp’ her daughter to her ‘aching heart’ once again. Their reconciliation on the page as well, it seems in life, was complete.

Of course, behind these poetic effusions lay complex psychological realities that are beyond reconstruction. But what is clear is that for both Charlotte and Charlotte Caroline Richardson, life inflected their poetry and their poetry materially affected their lives, raising much needed funds or rehabilitating broken relationships. Periodicals including the Lady’s Magazine and the Ladies’ Diary were a vital technology in these processes.

Dr. Jennie Batchelor

School of English, University of Kent



[1] These sources include: Gideon Smales, EWhitby Authors and their Publications, with the Titles of all the Books Printed in Whitby (Whitby: Horne and Son, 1867), pp. 214-15;’Charlotte Caroline Richardson’, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 22 July 2004, 10:55 UTC, <> [accessed 25 August 2015 ]; and  J. R. de J. Jackson, “Richardson, Charlotte Caroline (1796–1854)”, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. <> [accessed 25 August 2015]

[2] Ladies Diary or, Woman’s Almanack, For the Year of our Lord 1815, 112: 21.

[3] Ladies Diary or, Woman’s Almanack, For the Year of our Lord 1815, 113: 20.

The Lady’s Magazine and the Minerva Press


The Ladys Magazine , or Entertaining Companion for the Fair Sex , for the Year 1780 . Engraved frontispiece by Robert Dighton ( 1752  1814 ) showing a young woman forced to choose between the Temple of Folly and the Temple of Wisdom .

Detail from the frontispiece to The Ladys Magazine , or Entertaining Companion for the Fair Sex for 1780 .

Last week, Koenraad posted about our project trip to the biennial BARS (British Association of Romantic Studies) conference at Cardiff. It was a brilliant event: the papers were wide-ranging, innovative and rigorous; the company was convivial and generous.

One of the great pleasures for me, beyond participating in our own project panel, was chairing another on ‘The Minerva Press and the Romantic Print Marketplace’, convened by Yael Shapira (Bar-Ilan University) and comprising papers by Yael, Elizabeth Neiman (University of Maine), Hannah Doherty Hudson (University of Texas, San Antonio) and Olivia Loksing Moy (CUNY). The pleasure was threefold: hearing the research of four scholars who used various disciplinary approaches to make clear just how important and influential William Lane’s much-derided press was; allowing me to revisit an immense body of page-turning work that I have been long interested in but realise I have only ever really skimmed the surface of; and making me think more about the relationship between the popular fiction and the Lady’s Magazine.

In some ways, the Lady’s Magazine is the Minerva Press fiction of the Romantic periodical marketplace. Both magazine and imprint are indelibly linked in the scholarly imagination with the popular (in a largely pejorative sense), the fashionable (or even cynically opportunistic), the feminine, the non-professional and the ephemeral. These are associations that we vigorously seek to interrogate and dispel on this blog and in a more sustained way in the project itself, just as the speakers at BARS did so convincingly in their papers and continue to do in their wider research.

LM, XXXIII (Jan. 1802). mage © Adam Matthew Digital / British Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

LM, XXXIII (Jan. 1802). Image © Adam Matthew Digital / British Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

But I have long fantasised about more meaningful and demonstrable connections between the William Lane’s Minerva Press and the Lady’s Magazine. I’ve always been curious, for instance, by the importance of Minerva, Roman goddess of wisdom and strongly associated with the arts and with war, to the magazine. A Minerva figure is present in almost all of the annual frontispieces to the magazine in its first three decades, although eventually she begins to be usurped by Britannia. Usually, she is figured ushering women readers who carry the magazine in their hands, along the path of, or towards the temple of, wisdom. Was this at least partly on Lane’s mind when he adopted the name for his press? Was he hoping that some of the popularity of Robinson’s magazine might rub off on his new imprint?

I’ve also wondered if Lady’s Magazine authors (especially the fiction writers) might have subsequently found their way to Lane’s door or even, more tantalisingly still, moved from Lane to the Lady’s. Minerva Press novels are not monolithic in the way the shorthand term sometimes suggests. But nonetheless, the press’s often sentimental or Gothic fiction commonly return to similar themes of affect, economics and social injustice that preoccupy writers for the magazine, although each renders them differently. We are piecing together various bits of evidence on possible authorial migration between the Minerva Press and the Lady’s, which I for one find fascinating, and we’ll tell you about that in due course.

One thing we can say now, though, was that the magazine did stick up for Minerva at a time when other magazines and, in particular, the Reviews were doing just the opposite. Nowhere is this more evident than in a wonderful article entitled ‘On Criticism’ that appeared in the magazine for November 1804. The contributor, who went by the pseudonym ‘A Lover of Candour’, targeted the old-boy networks, shady credentials and self-interest that s/he saw as underpinning contemporary reviewing practices.

We simply do not know who ‘A Lover of Candour’ was, but s/he claimed to be ‘in the secret’ (577) of the trade and wanted to disabuse readers of the Lady’s of any fantastic notions that they might have that reviewers might be objective or even qualified to pronounce, with such authority, on the relative merits or demerits of the texts on which they opined. Writers who hoped their books might get ‘noticed’ needed some ‘interest’, that is to say, connection with potential reviewers or Reviews to ensure their work would appear on their radar (577).

Even if that interest could be relied upon, however, no author could be guaranteed a fair hearing. How could they be when their works were vulnerable to the whims of ‘a self-created dictatorship […] of anonymous individuals, subject to no dissent, no controul, no examination’ (577)? Reviewers might be people of ‘great learning’, but book learning was no guarantee of ‘genius’ or ‘taste’ after all (577). Authorial ‘merit’ was scarcely enough to secure a favourable review: ‘ for if the author is known, it is frequently rather him than his work that is reviewed’ (578). And readers were simply not trusted to make up their own minds on such important matters. The common long eighteenth-century reviewing practice of printing extracts of the reviewed work might seem to allow readers to ‘judge[e] for themselves’, but only on the basis of strategically excised passages, decontextualised and calculated for particular effect (578).

This general invective against reviewing conventions achieves a sharper focus when ‘A Lover of Candour’ turns to a particularly egregious abuse of privilege as s/he sees it, in the form of a recent issue of the Monthly Magazine. In it, ‘its editor or editors’ in a ‘half-yearly review’ ‘condescend[ed] to pass upon poor authors, whom they do not even deign to read’ by damning a class of the profession through cursory attention to a few examples: ‘A short article, under the head of Novels, concludes with saying, that “probably Lane might furnish a list of a hundred more but that they have names all, or perhaps more than all, that are worth reading”‘ (578).

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LM, XXXV (Nov. 1804): 578. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / British Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

This tendency towards ‘damning books in the lump without naming them’ – of homogenising books and authors (the notorious and ever multiplying body of circulating library trash) so as to avoid having to read them  – is strikingly likened by the Lady’s contributor to ‘the revolutionary system of government, imported by our French neighbours’ (578).

We don’t have to believe the ‘Lover of Candour’ when they say that they had ‘no connexion with Mr. Lane’ (578). And we know that some writers for the magazine did, in fact, have dealings with Lane and the Minerva Press. But regardless of whether this particular author did or did not have personal reason to defend Lane, what interests me most is that s/he felt that they could defend Minerva and expose the ‘tyranny’ of reviewing in this particular periodical. No doubt this was, in large part, because the Lady’s Magazine strikingly did not publish regular reviews of novels with the regularity of even usually in the form that most of its rivals did (but that’s a topic for another blog post). Surely, though, it must also be because s/he recognised that the magazine embraced different ways of thinking about contemporary fiction; that, foreshadowing chapter five of Northanger Abbey (published in 1818 but originally sent to Crosby in 1805, a year after this article appeared), it railed against the ‘abuse’ of reviewers who dismissed the ‘labour of the novelist’ despite the ‘wit’ and ‘taste’ they displayed or the ‘pleasure’ they elicited in their readers.

The ‘Lover of Candour’ may not have been Lane’s friend, but the magazine to which s/he sent ‘On Criticism’ was undoubtedly sympathetic to his press and the many popular writers who published with it. One of our many tasks, BARS reminded me, was to see how far such sympathy extended in the Lady’s Magazine promotion of the careers of individual authors.

Dr Jennie Batchelor

School of English

University of Kent


An Alarming Fire

LM L. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / Birmingham Central Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

LM XL (Aug 1799). Image © Adam Matthew Digital / Birmingham Central Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

As Koenraad noted on the blog last week, one of the (many) frustrations involved in working on the Lady’s Magazine is the lack of a publisher archive for the Robinson family who published it. Various correspondence between George Robinson Sr (1736-1801) and many of his authors, including Phebe Gibbes, William Godwin and Charlotte Smith, has survived, of course. Then there is the Manchester City Library Robinson ledger archive we featured last week. But, sadly, the sum of these documents seems to be pretty much all that is extant.

We live in hopes that someday, somewhere we will find an equivalent to John Nichols’s meticulously documented index to the Gentleman’s Magazine  (1821) which will explain everything we want to know and more about the day-to-day running of the Lady’s Magazine or even the Robinsons’ concern more generally. We may be waiting a rather long time, however.

Fleet StreetConventional wisdom has it that one of the reasons why there might be little by way of a Robinson archive is the devastating fire that broke out on 2 February 1803 at the Falcon-court, Fleet-Street, printing office, warehouses and home of the publishers’ printer, Samuel Hamilton. According to the New Annual Register for 1803, ‘in the short space of two hours’ the fire, which was ‘supposed to have arisen from the carelessness of a boy’, ‘entirely consumed the whole of [Hamilton’s] valuable and extensive premises’. No one was killed, mercifully, but the ‘loss of property (printed books)’ was noted to be ‘particularly severe’.

The loss was all the worse because Hamilton’s insurance had at least partly lapsed. Although the ‘manuscripts of the most important works’ were claimed to have been saved, including ‘those of the CRITICAL REVIEW, and […] the Lady’s Magazine’, which were said to be with their respective ‘editors’, many others were lost (24: 26). (In the interests of full disclosure, I should note that the New Annual Register was published by G. and J. Robinson and printed by one S. Hamilton.) Amongst the greatest losses was ‘part of the works of the late learned and much respected rev. Gilbert Wakefield’, the thousand pounds insurance on which had just expired (24: 26). Publisher bias or not, this was a substantial loss.

The fire was clearly devastating for Hamilton, who soon afterwards moved his business to Weybridge. It was also a real blow for the Robinsons. The Robinsons and Hamiltons’ connection preceded the New Annual Register collaboration by a long way. The Edinburgh printer and publisher Archibald Hamilton Sr (1719-93), Samuel’s grandfather, and Archibald Sr’s son, Archibald Jr (Samuel’s father), both owned a sixth share in the Lady’s Magazine from 1770 as well as in the Town and Country Magazine (another Robinson concern). Samuel and his brother (a third Archibald) inherited their father and grandfather’s business and Samuel appeared on the title-page of the Lady’s Magazine as its printer from August 1799. George Robinson Jr (d. 1811) and his uncle John (1753-1813) invested in Samuel’s business and the financial loss the fire occasioned them is often held to be largely responsible for the Robinsons’ bankruptcy on 8 December 1804. The fact that the firm (and indeed the Lady’s Magazine) survived this difficult time by many years is testament to the talents of these resourceful and well-connected men [1].

It’s not at all clear to me why the warehouse fire is often assumed to account for the lack of a more complete Robinson archive, however. As the New Annual Register makes clear, only some of the magazine’s contents were even in the printing house at the time as the majority of manuscripts and presumably associated correspondence were held by the magazine’s editors. As so often in our research, the shards of evidence we find about the day-to-day administration of the magazine pose more questions than they answer. Except that the coverage of the fire and the magazine’s references to it in its own pages do offer some useful research leads and insights.

LM XXXIV (1803). Image © Adam Matthew Digital / British Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

LM XXXIV (1803). Image © Adam Matthew Digital / British Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

The ‘unfortunate’ fire is first mentioned in the magazine in the February 1803 issue, which likely appeared in early March. Contrary to the report in the New Annual Register, the magazine’s editor noted that the fire consumed ‘several contributions of different correspondents’, but seemingly only those intended for ‘insertion in this [month’s] number’. The magazine only mentioned three of these by name: the continuation of the picaresque novel-cum-memoir, the Life of Robert McKenzie; E. W.’s The Eastern Slaves; and the month’s instalment of John Webb’s  serial poetic reflections, A Morning’s Walk in February. These correspondents were asked to ‘send other copies’ as soon as possible’ (LM XXXIV [Feb 1803]: ‘To our Correspondents’).

John Webb wins the prize for the speediest response. His ‘Morning’s Walk for February’ was re-sent in time to appear alongside the next instalment in the March 1803 issue, while E. W.’s narrative appeared under the altered title ‘The Slaves – an Eastern Tale’ in April. Robert McKenzie did not resume until June, but then again its skittish author was not the most reliable of contributors at the best of times.

When I have relayed this information in talks about the Lady’s some audience members have been surprised that authors would have been able to produce multiple copies of their works at such short notice in a pre-digital age. But of course in a pre-digital age, dependent on unreliable postal services, magazine editors who almost routinely mislaid items submitted to them and candles that weren’t counteracted by smoke alarms, such practices were only prudent. What interests me more about this anecdote is its research potential. If, as we know, correspondents kept copies of their submissions in case they were required to re-send them or because they opted to send them somewhere else if their efforts were rejected by their first-choice outlet, then might there not be a chance that we might find some of these manuscripts one day?

Another insight comes from a series of references to the fire in 1804 that accompany some of the magazine’s serial fiction. The original fiction published in the magazine has often, and in our view often erroneously, been given short shrift by scholars who dismiss all amateur contributions as unfit for publication elsewhere. Such a view depends on dismissing the inconvenient fact that some of this fiction (such as A. Kendall’s Derwent Priory [1796-97] or the sketches that became Mary Russell Mitford’s Our Village [1824]) was published in volume form after publication in the Lady’s and wore its origins as magazine fiction loudly. The process rarely worked the other way round. The Lady’s frequently published extended extracts of works of history, philosophy or travel writing, but usually only reprinted novels that had been previously published elsewhere if they were new translations of foreign works (such as the magazine’s long-running translation of Madame de Genlis’ Adelaide and Theodore (1784-89). The copyright laws surrounding novels evidently engaged periodical editors’ attentions much more than those surrounding other genres.

LM XXXV (March 1804). Image © Adam Matthew Digital / British Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

LM XXXV (March 1804). Image © Adam Matthew Digital / British Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

In 1804, though, we find two exceptions to the general rule governing the non-reprinting of previously published fiction. In both instances, the Hamilton fire was the occasion for the deviation from business as usual, and copyright infringement was, in any case, no issue. In January of that year, the magazine began its serialisation of Royall Tyler’s The Algerine Captive; or the Life and Adventures of Doctor Updike Underhill, Six Years a Prisoner among the Algerines. (Tyler’s fiction had been only the second American novel to appear under a British imprint when the forward-thinking Robinsons published it in two volumes in 1802.) This was followed, in February, by the first instalment of The Romance of the Pyrenees, a novel published anonymously in 1803, and later attributed to Catherine Cuthbertson, although at least one reader of the later French translation (1809) wrongly assumed its author was Ann Radcliffe. Both were originally published by the Robinsons and printed by Hamilton. What these novels also had in common was their near destruction by the fire, which seems to have consumed ‘nearly the whole of the impression’ of both runs left in the printer’s warehouse (LM XXXV [Jan 1804]: 37). Evidently lacking in confidence that a second impression of either would be financially viable, the novels were repackaged, with chapter breaks reorganised, to fill the pages of the Lady’s Magazine.

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

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

This was more than a gesture of pragmatism or an opportunistic attempt to get two novels off their hands without throwing good money after bad. Throughout its history, the magazine was canny about using its popularity and reach as a way of opening up audiences for other of its published works, even while it promised reams of original essays, fiction, poetry and other works that could be found nowhere else. The publication of The Algerine Captive and The Romance of the Pyrenees was just the most self-conscious example of this decades-long practice.

And it clearly worked. Cuthbertson’s career proceeded outside the magazine, and The Romance of the Pyrenees would go through a handful of further editions (its fifth was published in 1822) as well as spawning the aforementioned French translation [2]. Gillian Hughes has recently remarked that this move added some ‘desirable fictional sparkle to a magazine that was by then lagging behind readerly expectations’ [3]. I remain unconvinced by Hughes’s argument about readers’ dissatisfaction with the fictional content of the magazine. The periodical, at least, did not register such dissatisfaction for another decade or more. But telling Lady’s Magazine readers that they were reading a novel that was ‘no longer to be procured’ outside its pages was clearly a shrewd and effective marketing strategy (LM XXXV [Apr 1804]: 87).

Such glimmers of insight may not seem much. But in the absence of an archive for the Robinsons or, better still, for the Lady’s Magazine more specifically, they offer us important information about the publishers’ network, which along with other evidence we are slowly piecing together, might well provide important leads in identifying contributors to the periodical. Additionally, they indirectly shed light on the murky question of how the magazine interpreted copyright law (clearly differently for novels than for other genres) and suggests some of the ways in which the Robinsons understood the Lady’s to fit into their wider publishing concern. When you’re working in the dark, even something as destructive as a fire, it turns out, can be productive in its own way.


[1] G. E. Bentley jun., ‘Robinson family (per. 1764–1830)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 [, accessed 6 July 2015]; and Barbara Laning Fitzpatrick, ‘Hamilton, Archibald (1719–1793)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 [, accessed 6 July 2015]

[2] F. W. Bateson, ed., The Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature, 1800-1900 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969), p. 392.

[3] Gillian Hughes, ‘Fiction in the Magazines’, in The Oxford History of the Novel in English, Vol. 2, English and British Fiction, 1750-1820, ed. Peter Garside and Karen O’Brien (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), p. 472.

Dr Jennie Batchelor

School of English

University of Kent






Meaning and Magazines

The Ladys Magazine , or Entertaining Companion for the Fair Sex , for the Year 1780 . Engraved frontispiece by Robert Dighton ( 1752  1814 ) showing a young woman forced to choose between the Temple of Folly and the Temple of Wisdom .

Frontispiece to the bound 1780 Lady’s Magazine.

Who or what makes meaning in magazines? Publishers? Editors? Advertisers (usually, in fact, these were the publishers or editors in the era I spend my working life in)? The authors of individual contributions? Or maybe even readers?

The answer, it seems to me, is never a clear cut one. The inherentally dialogic and dynamic format of the magazine means that it cannot ever be so.

The Lady’s Magazine is no exception. Individual contributors to the magazine often had very strident views on the topics about which they wrote, whether that topic was whether men were women’s intellectual superiors, the need to abolish the slave trade, or the best cure for unwanted female hair growth. But as we have indicated many times on the blog before – usually with a mixture of frustration and admiration – it is hard to identify any coherent editorial line running through the magazine at all. Nothing in the magazine is so consistent as its inconsistency.

It would be easy to offer ready answers to the question of why this is the case. These range from the uncharitable and surely untrue – the magazine was so shambolic that it didn’t know what it was doing – to the downright cynical and misleading – the Lady’s was so keen to secure as sizeable a readership as possible that it tried to be all things to all people. The more accurate answer still lies partly out of reach of my outstretched fingertips and would certainly take more words than I have here to try to work through. But any response to the question surely has to take into account one of the most important generators of meaning in the (indeed, any) magazine: the placement of contributions.

The implications of how articles speak to and against one another were something I spent a lot of time thinking about (again) in a recent talk I gave at the wonderful Disseminating Dress conference I attended at the University of York last month. This three-day conference organised by Serena Dyer (University of Warwick), Jade Halbert (University of Glasgow) and Sophie Littlewood (University of York) brought together academics, curators and practitioners to examine how sartorial ideas and knowledge were transmitted between individuals and communities from the medieval period to the present. I was delighted to be asked to speak about what the Lady’s Magazine had to say about dress and fashion.

Of course, the magazine has rather a lot to say and in lots of different genres, from antiquarian and anthropological accounts, to moral essays and advice columns on dress, to embroidery patterns and fashion plates. But perhaps inevitably, my talk ended up being less about what individual contributions or even distinct sartorial genres disseminated about dress than about how these different contributions and genres buffetted against one another to create meanings that were much more than the sum of the magazine’s individual parts.

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LM XXIV (May 1783): 267. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / Birmingham Central Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

Take, for instance, this juxtaposition in the May 1783 issue. A month before, the magazine’s agony aunt, the Matron, had received a letter from a correspondent who went by the initials W. G., and who had complained bitterly about the unbecomingly masculine appearance of women who sported riding habits. The animosity behind W. G.’s attack is quickly diffused by the eminently sensible Matron who urges that ‘single ladies, if they find the riding habit more compact and convenient’ should be allowed to wear it ‘uncensured and unmolested’ even if she ultimately had to concede that married women, ‘if they are truly wise’, will ‘wear only those dresses which are most becoming in the eyes of their husbands’ (267). After a brief diversion on the ridiculous revival of the fashion for feathered garments, the Matron signs off by noting that ‘Moderation […] in dress as well as in diversions, is not only most convenient, it is also most becoming.’ With this, the Matron steers her usual, pragmatic course: misogyny is checked while propriety is observed.


LM XXIV (May 1783): 268. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / Birmingham Central Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

LM XXIV (May 1783): 268. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / Birmingham Central Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

But just when the magazine’s sartorial conservatism seems at its most surefooted, it is immediately undermined by the fashion report that follows it. Authored by an anonymous ‘Lady of Fashion’, one of a succession of early fashion journalists who graced the magazine’s pages, the report describes the latest fashions as popularized by the poet, actress (later novelist) and renowned celebrity Mary (Perdita) Robinson. The moderation called for by the Matron is flagrantly thrown off in the report in favour of sumptuous descriptions of the Rutland gown with its petticoats ‘tied back at the sides in the form of a Sultana’s robe’, the ’ made of silver or gold muslin and lined with coloured Persian’, as well as the ‘, trimmed with a wreath of white roses, and a panache of [the] white feathers’ the Matron despised, before closing with a reference to ‘Riding habits’, which are ‘much worn in the morning; the most fashionable are the Perdita’s pearl colour’ (268).


Whether the juxtaposition of the Matron’s column and the fashion report was a coincidence or manufactured is a puzzle that I suspect we will never solve. In a sense, though, it matters little. For this is no isolated incident and what is important about it is the range of effects the placement of such material had on readers’ experience of navigating the magazine’s content. And what is true for fashion is also true for the magazine’s conversations about marriage, class, domestic and global politics, the literary marketplace or any of the myriad subjects to which it returns. Few of these debates are ever definitively won or done with.

It would, I think, be all too easy to read these tensions as symptomatic of the mixed messages and impossibly contradictory feminine ideal that we have come to associate with the modern women’s magazine. But such views do not do justice to the complexity of the Lady’s. More to the point, they fail to acknowledge the form of the publication itself and the kinds of active reading practices it encouraged and which our blog and project as a whole seek to illuminate.

Readers of the Lady’s Magazine were far from passive. So many of the magazine’s most conservative pronouncements were actively challenged by editorial placement against articles or artifacts presenting contradictory points of view or by reader responses published in subsequent issues. The very form of the magazine – one in which every reader was a potential contributor and no one, not even respected authorities such as the Matron, could be guaranteed the final word on any subject – meant that every pronouncement it made in its pages was provisional and open to challenge.

The Lady’s Magazine’s driving principle, as we have alluded to before, was ‘conversation’, that ‘sieve that strains our thoughts of all their dross,’ as it put it in its March 1773 issue, ‘and like fire to gold, […] purifies the grosser and more unpolished ideas of our minds; it burnishes our mental magazine, and makes it fit for use’ (127). This is not to say that the magazine was entirely democratic or that some voices weren’t louder than others, but within the magazine’s community, dissent was encouraged and debate flourished.

Whether editorial placement was dictated by design or simply a happy accident matters little. Except to say, that the space that such placements opened up for readers to navigate the magazine’s content, to reflect on its import, to craft their own response, and perhaps to choose to share that response within the magazine’s pages, was surely one of the magazine’s greatest achievements and sources of its success.


Dr Jennie Batchelor

School of English

University of Kent

The Monster and Other Not So Guilty Pleasures

Our research project will generate a range of publications. Aside from our main research output (our annotated index of all of the content of the Lady’s Magazine from 1770-1818), we have this blog of course, and a series of journal articles and book chapters planned or already underway.

I am also engaged in a longer-term project to write a book about the Lady’s Magazine. Its completion is some way off, but it’s had a working title for some time. The bit after the colon in the title changes every couple of months, but the bit in front of the punctuation mark hasn’t changed for some years. Of course, I might reconsider things at the eleventh hour, but for now at least I feel pretty certain I want to give it the main title Guilty and Other Pleasures.

I have so many reasons for wanting to call it this. I want the title to reflect the slight sense of embarrassment I once but less regularly feel when people ask me what I am reading and working on and I say early women’s magazines. I want to rehearse in order to subvert stereotypes of women’s magazines as trivial (trivial because pleasurable) froth. And I want ultimately to make clear that neither I nor the magazine’s original readers really have anything to feel guilty about when reading it. The magazine took itself very seriously. It took its readers’ pleasure very seriously.

Even so, I do sometimes feel my conscience being pricked when reading the magazine. Should work really be such fun?

These feelings are most intense when the magazine manages to combine more than one guilty pleasure at once. For Charlotte Bronte, who wrote in a letter to Hartley Coleridge dated 10 December 1840 of furtively sloping off as a child to read old copies of the Lady’s Magazine instead of minding her lessons, fiction was a guilty pleasure. For me, it’s crime.

Crime fiction – my regular non-work guilty pleasure of choice – is not an established genre in the late eighteenth century, of course, although, novels of the period are full of nefarious deeds (murders, blackmail and so forth). But accounts of true crime were popular in the eighteenth-century press and although the Lady’s Magazine did not indulge such interests as frequently as many other contemporary newspapers and periodicals, when it did so, the result was invariably arresting.

LM I (Feb. 1771). Image © Adam Matthew Digital / Birmingham Central Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

LM I (Feb. 1771). Image © Adam Matthew Digital / Birmingham Central Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

For the most part, crime is confined to the back pages of the Lady’s Magazine where the monthly  home and foreign news sections appeared. These monthly digests of important events regularly included snippets on thefts, murders, fraud and arson. But sometimes the crime was so noteworthy or shocking that it spilled out of these densely printed, tightly constrained columns to occupy pages of the magazine itself.

Many of the biggest trials of the day were rehearsed in the magazine, often with an accompanying engraving. In April 1776, for instance, the magazine devoted several pages to an account of the Duchess of Kingston’s infamous bigamy trial, or as it subtitled the article: ‘An impartial and circumstantial Detail of the Trial of the Duchess of Kingston’. Nodding to the perceived impropriety of the magazine’s inclusion of the trial, the editors pointed out that since the trial had ‘engrossed the ears of curiosity’, it was their ‘duty to give a summary account of it’ for their readers (LM VII: 171).

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LM VII (Apr. 1776): 171. Image © Adam Matthew Digital / Birmingham Central Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

But of course, subscriptions and sales must have played a part in such decisions as well as this perhaps spurious sense of duty. Had the magazine not covered the Duchess of Kingston’s trial or that of the Countess of Strathmore and her despicable husband Stoney Bowes (documented in Wendy Moore’s very readable 2009 Wedlock: How Georgian Britain’s Worst Husband Met his Match) or that of Warren Hastings (which the magazine serialised over many months), it would have been out of step with its competitors and missing a commercial trick.

What is so strange about the trial accounts – with their matter of fact style, their lack of sensationalism or the kinds of editorial gloss we expect today – is that they are one of the few aspects of the magazine that remain closed off. One of the most exciting things about reading the Lady’s Magazine, as we have nodded to before, is knowing that the authority of any individual pronouncement or contributor was open to question. Readers could and frequently did exercise a right of reply on all manner of content, from advice on marital infidelity, to views on the behaviour of servants, or wives or children. But not so on criminal cases where the voice of the law was final. The trial verdict was irrefutable and not open to debate.

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LM XXI (July 1790). Image © Adam Matthew Digital / Birmingham Central Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

This was true even of the most extraordinary and disturbing of cases. I was reminded of this the other day when flicking through the July 1790 issue of the magazine when I came across this portrait engraving (instead of the the one I was looking for) of Rhynwick (here Rynwick, but also sometimes referred to as Renwick) Williams, commonly known as ‘The Monster’. The monster first came to notoriety in 1788 in the first of a series of incidents in which women were verbally harassed and then their clothes and bodies slashed or stabbed while walking through London.


The phrase media frenzy is an anachronism, but it’s hard to find one that more accurately describes the press’s and public’s reaction to these strange and appalling crimes. There was intense speculation about the Monster’s identity and motives and numerous contemporary engravings were produced of him attacking women in the streets with large knives. You might have seen a version of these events fictionalised in the BBC’s Garrow’s Law (2009) but would be advised, if your interested in similarly sinister things to me, to read the fascinating chapter on the events in Robert Shoemaker’s  The London Mob: Violence and Disorder in Eighteenth-Century England (2004). In any case, in June 1790 a trial was successfully brought against Williams after an attack on Anne Porter in St James’s. A summary of the trial in which Williams was found guilty appeared in the July issue of the magazine, the first time the crimes had been documented in it. Williams’s subsequent retrial – there were many reasons not to be convinced by the original prosecution – failed to overturn his conviction but was not reported in the Lady’s. 

The story of the Monster – with its pre-Ripper undertones – has fascinated many since it was first reported in the 1780s. But arguably what’s most fascinating about the Lady’s depiction of it is its refusal to accede to the temptation to indulge in sensationalism or prurience when many of its competitors were seizing such opportunities with relish. The engraving it published was of Williams, not of an attack. The events described, while unsettling, are presented in the manner of a brisk trial transcript, not dissimilar to those with which readers of this blog might be familiar from trawling through the records digitised on the indispensable Old Bailey Online.

With crime as with all else, then, there is evidence that the editors of the Lady’s Magazine took their readers’ reading pleasure very seriously so that neither party had anything to be guilty about. And so I for one have decided that I shan’t feel guilty either.

Dr Jennie Batchelor

School of English

University of Kent


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Patterns and Posterity: or, What’s not in the Lady’s Magazine

I’ve started to notice a bit of a theme in our recent posts for the blog, most of which have been about the difficulty of writing them. Many of these difficulties arise from the challenge of trying to make sense of what is before us when we read the magazine. How on earth can we even begin to work out who Camilla or J. L-g was, for instance? How can we make sense of the periodical’s editorial policy when articles  – sometimes articles placed right next to one another – directly contradict each other? Do such moments exhibit a lapse of editorial judgement? Or are they an accidental juxtaposition? A strategic spur to debate and controversy? Even as we start to find answers to some of these questions, more and more problems present themselves to us. It certainly keeps us on our toes, that’s for sure.

In the past few days I have been working with yet another interpretive conundrum that I have been very aware of it for some time: How can we write about parts of the magazine that are no longer there?

Binder's directions

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

Call any magazine, especially the Lady’s, ephemera in my earshot and I’m afraid I won’t be able to let it go. The longstanding association of historical women’s magazine’s with the ephemeral, the frivolous and the disposable could not seem further from the truth behind such titles. The Lady’s was a magazine that always had an eye to futurity. Monthly issues, like those of many of its rivals, were intended to be preserved in bound annual volumes and the last issues of each year published binder’s instructions on how to organise the material for posterity, especially non-paginated items, such as the handsome illustrations the magazine provided each month. Whether you read the magazine today in digital or hard copy it will almost always be in this annual bound format for which we owe a debt of thanks to the collective efforts of binders who curated them and the readers who agreed with the magazine’s editors that the publication was worth preserving in the first place.

But not everything was preserved. Many surviving bound volumes are missing the Supplement or Index. Others are missing (whether by error or design is usually hard to tell) odd pages of text, engravings or fashion plates. (I always like to think the latter might be missing when they are because their owners had taken them to their dressmakers Barbara Johnson style, but of course, we cannot be sure.)

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

Then there are those parts of the magazine that were never designed to be preserved, not even by the editors who boasted of their inclusion. This is especially true of song sheets and embroidery patterns, both of which were regular features of the magazine in its first decades. Neither of these types of material are to be found in the annual ‘Directions to the Binder’ and in fact when they are mentioned at all, as in the note that appeared under the advertisement for the 1771 second volume, it was to confirm that they had no place in the bound versions of the magazine at all:  ‘Note. The Patterns to be taken out’ (LM II [July 1771]: n. p.). Such features of the magazine were clearly meant to be pulled out and used. And evidently they were.

Nonetheless, we are fortunate that some owners and binders ignored these dictates. Indeed, song sheets can be found fairly frequently in the bound volumes of the magazine for the first two decades digitised on the Adam Matthews Eighteenth-Century Journals V database that is our main source for our project, as they are in other, less systematically digitised runs of the periodical that can be found online as well as in variously located hard copies yet to be scanned.

Embroidery patterns, however, are much less common. This has been a recurrent source of disappointment to me in the years I have been reading and working on the magazine. As I set about writing a paper I am giving at the Disseminating Dress conference at York at the end of the month, it has begun to really vex me.

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

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

The inclusion of a monthly pattern was an important feature of the magazine from its first issue in August 1770. In its inaugural Address to readers, the editors placed dress and fashion at the heart of the magazine’s mission and identified the inclusion of patterns as an important part of its utility and appeal to readers. The ‘subjects’ the magazine would alight upon were designed to render readers’ ‘minds not less amiable than [their] persons’, the editors declared: ‘But as external appearances are the first inlet to the treasures of the heart; and the advantages of dress, though they cannot communicate beauty, may at least make it more conspicuous, it is intended in this collection to present the sex with the most elegant patterns for the Tambour, Embroidery, or every kind of Needlework.’ Taking advantage of ‘the progressive improvement made in the art of pattern-drawing’, the magazine could boast for just sixpence an issue for the first three decades of its run: ‘[e]very branch of literature’, ‘engravings designed to adorn the person’, as well as ‘a pattern’ that alone ‘would cost them double the money at the Haberdashers’ (LM I, [Aug. 1770]: 1).

In part this is a masterpiece of marketing, the eighteenth-century equivalent to a television shopping channel telling you that not only will the advertised purchase price get you X and the Y you never even knew you wanted, but a free (yes: absolutely free!) Z into the bargain. But my strong feeling is that the patterns represented much more than simply a commercial ploy.

Patterns served various ends within the magazine. Some were educational. I think I would feel as if all my birthdays and Christmases had come at once if I ever came across one of the patterns for embroidered maps of Britain and the Americas published in 1776 and 1777 and intended to supplement the fascinating series of essays on the history and geography of these nations published in these years. I haven’t seen any in copies of the magazine I have consulted.

LM XVII (Mar. 1786). Image © Adam Matthew Digital / Birmingham Central Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

LM XVII (Mar. 1786). Image © Adam Matthew Digital / Birmingham Central Library. Not to be reproduced without permission.

The vast majority, though, were for decorating garments and other household objects, from watch cases and fire screens to sleeves, pockets and gentleman’s ruffs. These patterns can potentially tell us a great deal about the magazine and its understanding of its female readers. At the very least, their inclusion is a strong indication that for all its interest in the elaborate and extravagant fashions worn at court and by contemporary celebrities such as Mary Robinson or Sarah Siddons, the Lady’s expected its middling readers (lady does not mean aristocratic, here) to fashion themselves in a  modest and simple style. Ornamentation, in all things, merely for ornamentation’s sake was to be despised. In  both their intellectual and sartorial pursuits,  the magazine’s readers were instead supposed to be characterised by a considered elegance, marked by grace and cultivated through reflection and practice. I strongly suspect that the embroidery patterns the magazine published played an important part in shaping this ideal.

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

Every single one of the patterns that appeared in the magazine is briefly described in the table of contents for the month in which it appeared. Quite what the existence of more of the physical patterns would add to this picture is uncertain. What is clearer to me is that their absence is not a sign that the magazine was frivolous or disposable. In matters sartorial as in all things, the Lady’s saw itself as both attractive and useful to the lives of its readers. The fact that so few of these patterns have survived to this day – that many were presumably used – suggests that it may well have been right.


Dr Jennie Batchelor

School of English

University of Kent 






The Mysterious J. L-g from Market Lavington

John Legg 3

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

A frequent contributor to the Lady’s Magazine in the 1770s and 1780s bore the signature J. L-g from Market Lavington, a small town in Wiltshire. Some of the items provided by the writer, such as ‘A Caution to the Ladies’ in the 1778 supplement, are opinion pieces designed to advise women against the dangers of fortune tellers, female vanity, and indolence. But other works were meditations and reflections penned whilst walking through the town’s surrounding fields and forests. Describing the prospects, flora, and fauna, the works focus on the emotional and spiritual states the writer experiences in nature.

It was whilst reading the October 1779 contribution entitled ‘A Description of October’ that I began to develop that sympathy and liking for the subject that can so quickly send an archivist on a wild and time-consuming chase to identify the person behind the mysterious signature.  This reflective work revealed more of the author’s personality, demonstrating his love of animals and environment and an empathy with the hares and pheasants pursued by hound and hunters.

John Legg 2

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

J. L-g describes the hare, ‘poor timid creature’, that ‘perplexed, and in the utmost distress […] pours all his soul in flight’ (Oct: 542) before he ‘falls a victim to his numerous enemies’. The writer then turns to the ‘murdering gun’ of the fowler and the pheasants who are killed for the ‘luxurious appetite of man’, lamenting: ‘poor creatures! How hard is your fate!’ (542).

In spite of his conservative advice (that, frankly, rankled me at times), J. L-g identified so deeply with the persecuted prey that I reluctantly began to like the author who hitherto seemed cantankerous and moralizing. Feeling a peculiar kinship to a long-deceased writer is not such a bad thing for archivists working with so much anonymous and pseudonymous literature. It is easy when reading so many items by the same person to develop an idea of who they were and what they were like, to create a name to fill the blanks in the signature, and to imagine the person behind the persona. Though my research role on the project is to focus on the magazine’s content, it was this sense of kinship, that sneaking fondness for the self-described shy and reclusive writer, that made me so interested in the man behind the contributions.

John Legg 1

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

When other items from the same town began appearing signed ‘E. L-g’  or ‘Eliza L-g’ or ‘E-h L-g’ I began to feel I had at least a few possibilities to send on to the project’s attribution research associate, Koenraad Claes. But Koenraad’s research skills would have been wasted on this because in one quick google search for the keywords ‘18th century’, ‘Elizabeth L’ and ‘market lavington’ I was directed to the Market Lavington Museum blog that made it clear the signatures belong to John Legg and Elizabeth Legg, siblings, of Market Lavington. A quick email to the very helpful museum curator, Rog Frost, supplied me with a memoir of John Legg and photographs of the gravestones. These can be viewed on the museum’s blog.

Identifying John and Elizabeth Legg is only one small piece of a much larger puzzle of contributors and communities of writers. But it helps us to ask more questions about the correspondents and their relationships with each other and the editors of the Lady’s Magazine. It also demonstrates how essential modern day communities of researchers, curators, genealogists and bloggers are in uncovering the men and women who wrote for the periodical.


Dr Jenny DiPlacidi

School of English

University of Kent