In her introduction to Journalism and the Periodical Press in Nineteenth-Century Britain, Joanne Shattock notes that critics had begun "to take [End Page 829] stock of the press and to look to the future" of nineteenth-century journalism as early as the 1850s (5). It appears that the first decades of the twenty-first century are another such moment for assessment and looking forward. This essay collection joins a recent spate of reference works for students and scholars of the nineteenth-century British periodical press, pointing to the continuing vitality of and interest in the field. Its twenty-one essays by seasoned scholars are divided into four parts: "Periodicals, Genres and the Production of Print," "The Press and the Public," "The 'Globalization' of the Nineteenth-Century Press," and "Journalists and Journalism."
Laying the groundwork for the collection, James Mussell's opening chapter considers how today's readers access nineteenth-century journalism. He notes that "never before has the nineteenth-century press been so accessible" due to a massive increase in the digitization of these materials during the last two decades (18). Mussell discerningly scrutinizes the limitations of new digital resources over print copies found in archives but also assesses the potential for new research based on the metadata that digitization affords. The remaining chapters in the first section of the book shift to the periodicals themselves, introducing readers to some of the most significant periodical formats of the century and to important considerations for study of the periodical press. Starting at the beginning of the nineteenth century, David Stewart explores the relationship of magazines to literary culture, providing an overview of the "rowdy magazine market," readership, and writers of the late Romantic period (35). He convincingly argues that the magazines of this era functioned as participants as well as mirrors of literary culture. Turning to the reviews of the 1860s and '70s, Laurel Brake usefully interrogates the review as a genre and analyzes developments in this particular type of periodical. She further considers the relationship of the review to the phenomenon of sensation in the 1850s and '60s and argues that the precursors to the New Journalism are to be found in the reviews of the 1860s and '70s. Barbara Onslow investigates the annuals and gift books popular from 1822 to 1850, evaluating contemporary criticism of the genre as well as the benefits writers accrued from contributing to these periodicals.
The next two chapters in the first section turn to images in the periodical press. Brian Maidment offers an impressive analysis of the significant cultural presence of graphic satire, political caricature, and comic illustrations between 1820 and 1845. He also assesses arguments about why such images lost their bite during this period, arguing that critics would do better to "acknowledge the hybridity, entrepreneurial energy and commercial opportunism of late Regency and early Victorian satirical and commercial art" (102). In her knowledgeable chapter, Lorraine Janzen Kooistra provides a selective overview of the pictorial press, highlighting significant developments and titles and mapping changes in technologies of image [End Page 830] production over the course of the century. She also usefully provides a primer on the techniques and processes involved in creating images for periodicals. Linda H. Peterson rounds out this section with her thoughtful exploration of the interconnections between poets, poetry, and periodicals. Noting that The Wellesley Index to Victorian Periodicals omitted poetry from its cataloguing efforts, Peterson argues for the centrality of poetry to the study of periodicals by highlighting some of the poets who launched their literary careers in the press. She further refutes the critical tradition of separating poetry from rhetoric by demonstrating that periodical poetry often addressed current events.
Turning to "The Press and the Public," the second section examines the interplay of periodicals, institutions, and events. In his wide-ranging contribution, Martin Hewitt explores the multi-dimensional relationship between the press and the law in the nineteenth century. He reviews the various ways the law restricted the press (for example through legislation, libel and obscenity prosecutions, and copyright...