Index Magazines
Aspects of the Victorian Book
  Production   Publishing
  Magazines for Women

Newspapers and periodicals had an even greater readership than books during the 19th century; in particular there was a rapid increase in the number and variety of titles for women of all classes.

It is difficult to overestimate the importance of the Victorian periodical press. Advances in printing technology, an increasingly literate and urban population, the growth of the professions and the middle classes, a general thirst for knowledge, self-improvement and entertainment created an insatiable market, at every level of society, for newspapers and magazines on the widest possible range of subjects. By 1899 Willing's press guide listed approximately 11,000 current titles, and the Waterloo Directory of English Newspapers and Periodicals, 1800-1900 estimates a total output for the period of 125,000 titles.

Magazines for women were not new - the first had appeared during the seventeenth century - but the number and variety increased considerably as the nineteenth century progressed. Contemporary critics complained that many early Victorian women's periodicals were limited to fashion and domestic topics, relying too heavily on serialised fiction; by the 1840s the more successful titles were including articles on education and social issues, and Beeton's Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine, founded in 1852, reached out to the new mass market. During the second half of the century women's periodicals began to give more space to political matters, and although traditional domestic magazines continued to flourish, there was a growing number of feminist and radical titles, often written by and for working women.

The last thirty years of Queen Victoria's reign were a time of immense activity in women's publishing. Following the abolition of newspaper stamp duty in 1855 and the advertising tax in 1858, it became possible to produce magazines more cheaply, and on a wider range of subjects. Leisure and specialist titles began to appear, reflecting new interests outside the home; while conventional papers became less didactic, more practical and more entertaining.

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