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Exhibiting Victorian Poetry
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The University of Victoria’s McPherson Library holdings include a wealth of 19th century periodicals, newspapers, annuals and gift books—one of the most extensive Victorian periodical collections in North America. Faculty and graduate students have long recognized the potential of these materials for use in teaching and research. In recent years, the rich cultural, literary and illustrative content of this collection has been increasingly mined for various research projects and courses. For the study of Victorian poetry, the 19th century collection is an invaluable resource, as Dr. Alison Chapman’s students discovered in her 2010 graduate seminar, Victorian Poetry and the New Print Media. Students were able to explore the primary works of the period in a classroom adjacent to the Special Collections reading room, experiencing the poetry through the same media as the Victorian reader. At the conclusion of the course, I was privileged to organize, with the assistance of Kirby Booker, one of the grad students, the Victorian Poetry and the New Print Media exhibit. The exhibit showcased many of the primary materials used throughout the seminar. Along with several reproductions of exquisite illustrations and poetry from the journals, the following books and periodicals were on display in the Special Collections reading room throughout the summer of 2010:

Gift books by Christina Rossetti:
Goblin Market and other poems 1862; Prince’s Progress, and other Poems 1866

Amulet 1826-183; Keepsake 1827-1857, Gem 1829-1832; Friendship’s Offering 1833-1843; and Forget Me Not 1823-1847

Works by Alfred, Lord Tennyson:
In Memoriam; 1850; Vivien 1867; Beauties of Tennyson 1885; the Princess 1860

The Literary Weekly:
All the Year Round 1859-1895; Once a Week 1859-1865; Good Words 1859-1906

The Literary Monthly:
Cornhill Magazine1860-1975; Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine 1817-1905; Ainsworth’s Magazine 1842-1854

Illustrated Periodical Poetry:
The Dark Blue 1871-1873

The Germ: Thoughts towards Nature in Poetry, Literature, and Art 1850 (nos. 1-4) facsimile

Working-class Periodicals:
Notes to the People 1851-1852 (facsimile); Penny Magazine 1832-1845

Late-Victorian Periodicals:
The Yellow Book 1894-1897; Women’s World 1887-1889; The Pageant; 1896-1897

Dr. Chapman is also undertaking a research project that will involve the creation of an online database of poetry indexed from the Victorian periodicals held in McPherson Library.

Danielle Forster, English Librarian, McPherson Library


Image from Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market 1862

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