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Victorian Print Media: a Reader, OUP, 2005 (co-edited with John Plunkett, University of Exeter) ISBN 0 199 27038 4 and 0 199 27037 6

Victorian culture was dominated by an ever expanding world of print. A tremendous increase in the volume of books, newspapers, and periodicals, was matched by the corresponding development of the first mass reading public. It has long been
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  Andrew King and John Plunkett, Victorian Print Media: A Reader , Oxford University Press, 2005 p. 1 (page numbers from printed edition) Introduction ‘we live and move and have our being in print.’  [Abraham Hayward ], ‘Advertising’,  Edinburgh Review , 77 (1843), 2.A sceptic might remark that our epigraph is nothing but a hyperbolic marketing ploy: of course Hayward would make such a grandiose claim; he was a prolific writer who moved inLondon's élite literary circles, and we are merely using his words to puff our own book. Forall the truth of those assertions, it is also true that, during the period in which Hayward was inbusiness, print came to dominate British society to such an extent that oral forms of culturelost much of their status. The essence of nineteenth-century Britain might indeed be defined as a move towards a society’s ‘Being -in- Print’. The media -saturated society we experiencetoday emerged from this nineteenth-century mediamorphosis, and one of our aims is toprovide a partial genealogy of the present, noting differences as well as similarities. 1 ThisReader gathers heterogeneous material so as to facilitate new understandings of the way printmedia operated in relation not only to the expected literary categories of authors and readers,  but to society more generally. In so doing it aims to problematise the concepts of ‘author’ and‘reader’, and indeed, ‘print media’, ‘literature’, and ‘society’, too.  It is a commonplace that the expansion of interest in book and print history has beenencouraged by the growth of electronic media during the last thirty years. The doxa goes thatsuch a confrontation with new media has alerted us to the material and phenomenological  boundaries of the old: we are more attentive now to the specificities and limits of ‘Being -in- Print’ because it no longer seems to apply as comprehensively to u s. Rather than simplysealing the limits of print, however, electronic media have also dramatically opened them up.As Jerome McGann, and others, have argued, modern technologies have transformed thescope as well as the methodology of research: they havep.2made possible new histories, allowed once invisible cultural formations to emerge. 2 The sametechnologies have also reinvigorated the burden of proliferation that nineteenth-centurycommentators themselves felt long before Virginia W oolf’s Orlando discovered that in the nineteenth century ‘sentences swelled, adjectives multiplied, lyrics became epics, and little trifles that had been essays a column long were now encyclopaedias in ten or twentyvolumes .’ 3 If between 1840 and 1870 the British population rose by forty per cent, thenumber of books published annually rose by about four hundred per cent. 4 In 1864,  Mitchell’s  Newspaper Press Directory already listed 1764 periodical titles; by 1887 it listed 3597. 5  Individuals were often shockingly prolific. G.W.M. Reynolds (1814-79) published The Mysteries of London and its continuation The Mysteries of the Court of London between 1844and 1856 in 624 weekly penny numbers. This serial alone comprises around 4.5 millionwords. Simultaneously Reynolds edited several periodicals and a weekly newspaper besideswriting innumerable other fiction texts and non-fiction articles. A standard captatiobenevolentiae expressed by students of Victorian print media is an amazed apology for suchproliferation. As all of us find, the new media notwithstanding, strict selection is essential.Hand-in-hand with selection walk recontextualisation and remediation. Whereas oncean article may have been used for entertainment, alluding effortlessly to current events, nowit forms part of a university syllabus, its references requiring painstaking elucidation. Giventhe fragility and rarity of the relevant material, it almost always needs to be transmuted intodifferent media forms: a periodical becomes a series of web-pages, or, as here, extractsassembled into a book. In a sense this double displacement, of new context and new media,misrepresents the primary sources. While not believing one can recover the purity of any first  Andrew King and John Plunkett, Victorian Print Media: A Reader , Oxford University Press, 2005 reception (or even that s uch ‘purity’ existed), nonetheless we feel we can deal with this recontextualisation and remediation by deliberately exploiting the constraints andpossibilities of the book format; in fact, this book.One of the problems with anthologies such as this is that issues that emerge fromspecific contexts are often too hastily universalised. The tendency to generalise downplaysnot only why articles were published but where and when (Laswell ’s famous questions springto mind: ‘ Who says What in Which channel to Whom with What Effect ’). 6  p.3While not dismissing the possibility or value of generalisation, we have sought to counter itscentrifugal force by anchoring each piece in its context with a short headnote and liberalannotation, as well as with an introduction to each section that seeks to place the individualpieces in a wider narrative. By these means we are seeking to work with, not against, theremediation and recontextualisation that this book form involves.We feel that there is a need for a Reader in book form that can be used to introducestudents to the key features of nineteenth-century print media, while providing a manageablehistorical and conceptual map for those already working in this field. We have not beencontent with the already known, but neither do we believe the ways we have disposed orexplained the material the only ones. Our choices are intended as much to provoke furtherquestions and research as much as to establish an overview. Indeed, there are manycontradictions that we have been unable to pick up here (several extracts disagree over theuse and status of the Bible, for instance).The Reader consists of    nine themed sections, each addressing a specific conceptualand/or historical issue, such as the different modes of authorship. Articles within each sectionare usually in chronological order, except in one or two cases where we felt anotherarrangement led to greater clarity. It will soon be discovered that similar issues recur indifferent sections. Thus, section two, on the perceived influence of print media, is closelylinked to section three, on judicial attempts to restrict the circulation of certain kinds of publication. Similarly, the belief in the improving educational effect of literature expressed insections one and two is directly connected to the growth of institutions like free public libraries and Mechanic’s Institutes, which are examined in the section on ‘Reading Spaces’. Such cross-relations are inevitable and welcome, displaying the overdetermination of anymedia text or institution and the arbitrary but necessary artificiality of our division of thefield.Unsurprising, given our earlier stress on proliferation, will be our claim that eachsection could easily have been the subject of an individual Reader. We have not only had toselect our sources: some have had to be substantially cut, principally because of the spacelimitations that form the essence of the book as a media form. It is fair to say that at leastsome of the pieces were written by authors who had pages to fill and deadlines to meet: theswollen sentences Orlando noted were partly a consequence of modep.4of production. As Thackeray memorably declared in the semi-autobiographical Pendennis , ‘[a] literary man has often to work for his bread against time, or against his will, or in spite of  his health, or of his indolence, or of his repugnance to the subject on which he is called to exert himself, just like any other daily toiler.’ 7 The effects of this industrial labour are oftenapparent in the extracts we have chosen. While our editing has inevitably sacrificed thefulsomeness of some pieces, it has not, we hope, falsely represented their general tenor orstyle.Most extracts in the Reader are drawn from the periodical press, rather than from, say, authors’ letters or publishers’ records. There are several reasons for this. Nineteenth -centuryperiodicals, out of self-interest as well as critical concern, frequently discoursed upon their  Andrew King and John Plunkett, Victorian Print Media: A Reader , Oxford University Press, 2005 own practices, status, and role. The predominance of periodical articles is therefore the mosttelling index of the importance of the periodical press as a media form. Furthermore,periodicals were the main media form through which the industry reflected on itself, whetheron the production of individual authors or on the publishing industry in general. Thus, W.T.Stead ’s famous articles, ‘Government By Journalism’ and ‘The Future of Journalism’, were not published in the evening newspaper, the Pall Mall Gazette , which Stead edited. Rather hechose the more discursive, reflective, less transitory and more authoritative space provided bya monthly periodical, the Contemporary Review .Articles from the periodical press also have the advantage of being public documentsthat were often intended to be interventions in specific debates over the politics or ethics of particular print media. They have a topicality and social embededness that link the privateand private in intricate and often arcane ways. Wilkie Collins ’s famous essay on the‘Unknown Public’ is a good example of this, its public and private meanings rendered all themore visible by the opportunities our  Reader  provides through comparison with pieces onrelated topics.It is no accident that our coverage of print media has a substantial number of articles that examine ‘popular’ media forms. Charles Knight , the nineteenth-century publisher whoworked hardest to disseminate low-cost reading matter in the name of progress, once shrewdly observed that the process of printing was ‘unquestionably a cheap process, provided a sufficient number of copies of any particular book are printed, so as to render the proportion of the first expense upon a single copy inconsiderable.’ 8 Victorian printp.5media, encouraged by population growth, rising living standards, and educational change andreform, were driven inexorably by the economic logic Knight identifies. Increasing numbersof readers created economies of scale for publishers, which favoured lower prices and moreproduction, which attracted more readers, and so on and so forth in a continuously wideninggyre.Indeed, one of the underlying models for the organisation of this Reader comprisesRobert Darnton ’s notion of a communications circuit . Darnton argued that the existence of a text can be understood through a process of cultural transmission, ‘that runs from the author  to the publisher (if the bookseller does not assume that role), the printer, the shipper, the  bookseller, and the reader.’ 9 One of the strengths of Darnton ’s model is that it can start at different points. Readers, for example, may either end or begin the circuit depending onwhether they influence authors before or after the composition of a text. We consider variousstages of the communications circuit in three sections in particular: Printing, Publishing andCommunication; Reading Spaces; Authors, Journalists, Reviewers. The section on lawscrutinises some of the legal factors - taxation, copyright, obscenity - that regulated thecircu it, and some pieces on in Section Two ponder whether ‘influence’ flows from producer  to consumer or vice versa.Section One, Setting the Scene, suggests that it was in the 1820s and 1830s that themain paradigms were laid down for the description of print media split into mass andrestricted markets. Subsequent sections demonstrate this genealogical inheritance byexemplifying how versions of these competing visions underpinned many of the argumentsthat took place later in the century. The section called The Influence of Print is moreconceptual, comprising articles that offer different models of the way that print media wasbelieved to impinge on individual, class, and gender subjectivity. Sections on Newspapersand Graphic Media are self-explanatory, while Investigating the Popular examines theexplosion of mass-market fiction from the 1840s to the 1860s. It also provides examples of  the contrasting attempts to define and taxonomise ‘popular    literature’.    Andrew King and John Plunkett, Victorian Print Media: A Reader , Oxford University Press, 2005 The interrelationship between the different sections reveals certain recurrent concerns.Gender, for example, runs through all the sections. We include a significant number of articles by women that describe their role as authors and readers, from Sarah Stickney Ellisp.6 extolling the virtues of domestic reading to Charlotte O’Conor Eccles describing herfrustrations as a professional journalist competing with her male colleagues in the 1890s.There is also abundant material that exemplifies patriarchal anxieties over the relationshipbetween women and print media. Even extracts that do not directly address the issue of gender often implicitly emphasise the gendered space of print media through their reliance ongendered tropes or models. Thus, for example, the mass market is frequently feminised incontrast to masculine, high-status, literary production.A note on our title to end with. This is a Reader in Victorian Print     Media rather thanin book history, the periodical press, or even print culture. We did not settle on this title lightly. We began by rejecting the terms ‘book history’ and ‘periodical press’ as we felt it essential to deal with a variety of print forms: books, periodicals, pamphlets, newspapers,sheet music and so on, all existed in symbiotic relations with one another. We wanted to highlight this connectivity. ‘Print culture’ lasted longer in our thoughts and our non -use of theterm is base d less on rejection than on a preference for the term ‘media’. Although usage of ‘media’ in the modern sense only arose in the 1920s, and our title may therefore be regarded in some quarters as anachronistic, we feel it justified not least because to exclude the termwould problematically elevate the emic above the etic, the past above the present, theresearched above the researcher. What we have preferred here is to oscillate between insiders’ and outsiders’ perspectives, between the early t wenty-first century and thenineteenth: we are indeed mediating    between them. The use of the term ‘media’ reflects the way our research is related not only to the disciplines of Literature and History, but to Mediaand Cultural Studies, whose insights, derived from textual theory and from sociology, inflectthe organisation of this book just as much as those of its older siblings. The title alsoembodies our desire to stress the transactional and transitive nature of the primary sourceseven within their own time. The extracts we have chosen were communications betweenpeople about communications between people: in other words, they were public mediations not solitary meditations. ‘Media’, then, we prefer for its stress on activity and movement.Whereas ‘culture’ risks systematisation, ‘media’ emphasises process.  p.7 Finally, we feel we need to explain our use of the adjective ‘Victorian’. That this term is problematic is not in question; we certainly sought alternatives. The best we found was ‘Nineteenth - Century British’. It is true that our   Reader  concentrates on British print media. But besides being clumsier than ‘Victorian’, ‘Nineteenth - century British’ is just as inaccurate. Not all the extracts below were published in Britain, just as not all were published while Victoria was queen. But there is a more serious issue. A spotlight on ‘British’ in thetitle would too glibly have excised the field’s international - often imperialist - aspects, whichappear in areas as diverse as copyright, paper production, popular narrative, the export of stereotypes (in all senses), and even the longevity of the three- volume novel. ‘Victorian’, on the other hand, is used various parts of the world to refer to different kinds of nineteenth-century cultural products, often of non-British srcin, from architecture and toys to magazines and jewellery. It is for the capaciousness of the term ‘Victorian’ that we chose in the end to retain it. In so doing, we embrace the abundance and heterogeneity of a field and time that isboth our problem, like Orlando ’s, and yet our delight.  Andrew King and John Plunkett, Victorian Print Media: A Reader , Oxford University Press, 2005 Notes to Introduction 1. Roger Fidler uses the term ‘mediamorphosis’ to name the process of media transformation,  Mediamorphosis: Understanding New Media (London: Sage, 1999). 2. Laurel Brake, ‘On Print Culture: The State We’re In’,  Journal of Victorian Culture , 6.1 (2001),125-36. Jerome McGann,  Radiant Textuality: Literature After the World Wide Web (New York:Palgrave, 2001).3. Virginia Woolf, Orlando (1928; London: Vintage, 2000), 148.4. Philip Davis, The Oxford English Literary History Volume 8. 1830-1880, The Victorians (Oxford:Oxford University Press, 2002),   202.5. Simon Eliot, Some Patterns and Trends in British Publishing, 1800-1919 (London: TheBibliographical Society, 1993), 148. 6. Harold Lasswell, ‘The Structure and Function of Communication in Society’, The Communicationof Ideas , ed. Lyman Bryson (New York: Institute for Religious and Social Studies, 1948), 37-51.p.87. William Thackeray, The History of Pendennis (London: Smith, Elder, & Co., 1910), 459-60. 8. Charles Knight, ‘The Commercial History of a Penny Magazine’, Penny Magazine , 2 (1833), 377. 9. Robert Darnton, ‘What is the History of Books?’ The Book History Reader  , eds. David Finkelsteinand Alistair McCleery (London: Routledge, 2002), 11.
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