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Database of Victorian Periodical Poetry

The Database of Victorian Periodical Poetry aims to index and provide images for poems and illustrations published in a wide range of periodicals. To date we have included 16 periodicals, almost 6,600 poems, and over 1,000 poets. Almost all the periodicals, with some exceptions, are indexed from print copies held in UVic’s McPherson Library. The database covers poems in English as well as translations

Why periodical poetry? In recent years, poetry scholars have turned to poems published in Victorian periodicals as more than mere “filler”, but rather as an important publication and advertisement venue for canonical poets such as Alfred Tennyson and Christina Rossetti. In addition, the periodical poetry gives a fuller sense of the range of poems published in the period, often by little known, pseudonymous and anonymous poets, and also provides fascinating information about Victorian popular taste, poetics and aesthetics. Periodical poetry was read by a vast audience at a time when serial print culture was expanding rapidly, and when the market for books of original poems was precarious at best. Including periodical poetry in assessments of Victorian poetry tells us crucial information, not only about the better known poets, but also revises and complicates the received models of Victorian poetics and poetry readership. In addition, the poetry has a deeply involved relationship with its immediate print context, participating in the periodical’s ideology, its page design and layout, its editorial agenda, and often indirectly and even directly with the other periodical contributions.

Are these poems worth reading in themselves? Sometimes. Perhaps. But what they arguably are most important for is their deeply embedded relationship to print culture. As Lorraine Jantzen Kooistra perceptively comments, “our study of Victorian poems as embodied, graphic forms is in its infancy” (“From Blake to Beardsley: ‘On Some of the Characteristics of Modern Poetry”, Victorian Poetry, Vol. 48, No. 1, Spring 2010, pp. 1-9 [p. 2]). And, of even more urgency, there is a preservation and access issue: the physical copies of the often rare periodicals are many times in a perilous material state and libraries, under pressure of space and finances, too often are tempted to destroy this vital part of Victorian cultural and literary heritage.

The database includes the following information where known: the name of the author as published in the periodical and the identity of any pseudonyms or anonymous poets, together with birth and death dates, gender, nationality, qualifications and honorifics; the name of the translator or illustrator where applicable; the original language of any translations; and of course full bibliographical information.

The Database indexes poetry in the following titles:

All the Year Round, 1859-1895 (full run)

Atalanta, vols. 1-10, October 1887-September 1898 (full run)

Chambers’s Edinburgh Journal (in progress)

The Chartist Circular, vols. 1-2, 28 September 1839 – 2 July 1842 (full run)

Dark Blue, vols. 1-2, January 1871-February 1872 (full run)

The English Woman’s Journal, vols. 1-13, 1858-1864 (full run)

Good Words, vols. 1-20, January 1860-1899

Household Words, nos. 1-78, 1850-1859 (full run)

Keepsake, 1828-1857 (full run)

Once a Week, vols. 1-13 (series 1), July 1859 – December 1865

Pageant, vols. 1-2, 1896-97 (full run)

Penny Magazine, 1832-1845 (full run)

Victorian Magazine, vol. 1, Dec. 1891- April 1892 (full run)

Waverley Magazine, 1856-1857 (partial run)

Woman’s World, vols. 1-3, 1888-1889 (full run)

The Yellow Book, vols. 1-13, April 1894 – April 1897 (full run)

The editors would like to hear from anyone with feedback about the database, and would welcome any missing information or corrections. Please contact alisonc@uvic.ca

The database began as a graduate project in Alison Chapman’s Victorian Poetry and the New Media course in Winter 2010. Thanks to students on that course for providing the inspiration and the initial bibliographical information (subsequently checked and inputted by a team of RAs). We are also grateful to HCMC for their support of the project, especially Martin Holmes (who built the database), Jamie Ney (who originally built the wordpress search plug-in), and Stewart Arneil (who continues to work on the search function and front-end coding). Finally, the Special Collections staff have provided invaluable help and assistance with the collections.

 

 

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