The Wellesley Index to Victorian Periodicals, 1824-1900, Volume 2

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Walter E. Houghton
University of Toronto Press, 1972 - Reference - 1221 pages
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The importance of Victorian periodicals to modern scholars can scarcely be exaggerated. In scores of journals and thousands of articles there is a remarkable record of contemporary thought in every field, with a full range of opinion on every major question - a range exceeding what could be found, in many cases, in such books as were devoted to the topic being investigated. Furthermore, reviews and magazines reflect the current situation and are indispensable for the study of opinion at a given moment or in a short span of years.

Because about ninety per cent of all the articles in Victorian journals were published anonymously or pseudonymously, it is the identification of most of these writings that is the major contribution of The Wellesley index to Victorian Periodicals. The value of these identifications rests partly on the fact that essays on controversial subjects - and most Victorian essays were of this kind - have to be placed in context by knowing who the author was and something about his other works. Similarly, a student working on a particular writer has a special need to learn not only what articles he wrote himself, but also who wrote the principal criticisms of his work.

The editors of the Index have chosen an initial date in the mid-twenties because the age seems to begin with the recognition, patent in the early essays of Carlyle, Macaulay, and Mill, that radical changes in politics and religion were on the horizon. The particular year, 1824, marked the founding of a major vehicle of new ideas, the Westminster Review. The first volume covers eight journals of outstanding quality and influence: Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, The Contemporary Review, The Cornhill Magazine, The Edinburgh Review, The Home and Foreign Review, Macmillan's Magazine, The North British Review, and The Quarterly Review.

Volume II indexes twelve periodicals: Bentley's Quarterly Review, The Dublin Review, The Foreign Quarterly Review, The Fortnightly Review, Eraser's Magazine, The London Review (1829), The National Review (1883-), The New Quarterly Magazine, The Nineteenth Century, The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine (1856), The Rambler (1848-1862), and The Scottish Review (1882-). It also contains an appendix in which all corrections and additions to Volume I are listed in a readily usable format. Volume II will be followed presently by two more volumes, indexing some twenty other periodicals.

As in Volume I of the Index, Part A contains a tabular view of the contents, issue by issue, with the exception of poetry. This provides a student with the contents of a journal not available in a particular library. Moreover, when the contents of a number of journals are examined together, it becomes a record of the subjects being discussed in a given year or during a given period of time. Part B is a bibliography of articles arranged under the contributors' names. It provides, for most authors, the only list of their periodical writings, and in nearly all cases a more extensive one than now exists, because the unveiling of anonymity has meant the recapturing of "new" work. The combination of Parts A and B enables a scholar to learn either who wrote a given article or story, or what articles and stories were written by a given author. Part C is the first index of pseudonyms for nineteenth-century English periodicals.

By opening up new possibilities for the study of men and ideas, the Wellesley Index will prove to be an invaluable reference source for students of literature, history, political science, sociology, and other fields. It should serve, too, as an authoritative guide to the layman interested in Victorian England.

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