Friday, September 14, 2012

The Monthly Magazine(s)

In my blog post of August 24, I promised more information on The Monthly, and The New Monthly, Magazines of Regency times. I became confused when doing the research for that post, about the magazines. I didn't realize at first that there were two distinct publications.

The Monthly Magazine was started in 1796 by Richard Phillips (1867-1840), an educator, author, and radical politician. His political leanings got him into trouble in Leicester where he was working in about 1795, and he returned to London, where he amassed a fortune writing and publishing textbooks. This portrait was painted in 1806 when he was at the height of his prosperity; a year later he was knighted. In the Bank Panic of 1825 he lost his money, and was declared a bankrupt.

The Monthly Magazine was probably his greatest success--it was a forum for his political views, and a popular publication under the editorship of Dr. John Aiken for the first ten years. The cover page from an 1805 edition displays the breadth of the material covered.
Political items displayed radical leanings with articles by William Godwin and Thomas Holcroft. Other material was written by now eminent names in British literature: William Blake, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Charles Lamb.

By 1814, Henry Colburn (1784-1855), a bookseller and later publisher, had had enough of Phillips' radicalism. He began The New Monthly Magazine, which reflected his Tory bias.
I am astonished by the level of similarity between the two journals. Neither have much in the way of illustration, unlike the Repository of Arts of the same period. It would appear that Colburn directly copied Phillips' content and changed the wording a little on his title page. Both journals relied heavily on reader input, but one wonders if these were genuine letters submitted by the public, or in-house commentary, thinly disguised.

In 1813, The Monthly Magazine published a lengthy letter on Juridical Decisions relative to Forgery which indicates the journal's leanings:
A reader of The New Monthly Magazine in 1814 was busy condemning another magazine for its viewpoint. I have read The Edinburgh Review and really don't understand the letter-writer's concern.
The Monthly Magazine ended publication in 1843, three years after Phillips' death. The New Monthly Magazine gained a greater emphasis on literature after 1821 becoming The New Monthly Magazine and Literary Journal, and it continued in  various guises until 1884.

The quantity and variety of journals published in the Regency never ceases to amaze me. And their contents continue to delight. With my confusion over these two magazines sorted out, I'm going back to reading them!

'Til next time,


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