While I’m running hither and yon today, Victorian author Sandra Schwab will entertain you!! Please give her a warm welcome to the blog!!
Four years ago I fell in love with nineteenth-century periodicals. It all started quite harmlessly when in 2010 I was invited to speak at the annual conference of the Research Society for Victorian Periodicals. I had already done some research on the satirical magazine Punch, in particular on the artist Richard Doyle, who worked for the magazine in the 1840s. But it was at that conference that I really fell in love with Victorian periodicals. After my return home I got lucky and found a reasonably priced collection of all Punch volumes from 1841 to 1891 online. I bought it—155 pounds of Mr. Punch! When the packages finally arrived, I was so happy that I burst into tears (which might have disconcerted the postman a little…).
Since Mr. Punch moved into my sitting room, much of my academic research has focused on the 1840s. It was only recently that I realized I could use this research for my creative work as well. Thus, the idea for my new series about the writers and artists working for the fictional magazine and my series, Allan’s Miscellany was born.
The upheavals that shook the publishing world in the early nineteenth century were just as momentous as the changes that are happening in our time. Thanks to the rise of the middle classes, technological improvements, and higher literacy rates, the market for periodicals grew exponentially: It is estimated that about 4000 periodicals were launched between 1790 and 1832. In other words, there was suddenly a mass market for newspapers and magazines.
The latter covered every topic under the sun: there were sporting magazines and art magazines and music magazines and magazines about botany and horticulture. The Lady’s Magazine, or Entertaining Companion for the Fair Sex (1770-1847) was the first to explicitly target a female readership. In terms of content, the magazine set the example for other women’s magazines that followed: it contained articles on various subjects as well as fiction, poetry, music (on fold-outs), exemplary biographies (often illustrated), sometimes short descriptions of the latest dresses and fashions (with plates), and a pattern for decorative needlework.
What was missing, though, was a recipe section and a column with domestic advice. The reason for this was that the magazine was targeted at upper-class women who had servants to do all the household work for them. In this, too, the magazine set the model for other women’s magazines of the early nineteenth century: they were all expensive and they were all meant for an upper-class readership. This changed only in the 1850s and 60s when the older ladies’ magazines disappeared and were replaced by new periodicals targeted at middle class women. The most famous and most popular of these was Samuel Beeton’s The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine (1852-79).
There were often more general magazines, often referred to as “miscellanies” because they covered a variety of different topics and contained book reviews, theatre reviews, articles on literature and science, opinion articles, and poetry. I imagined Allan’s Miscellany as one of these periodicals.
In The Bride Prize, the first story of the series, Allan’s Miscellany is only a few months old, and the staff consists of a grand total of two people: William MacNeil, editor and writer, and Robert Beaton, writer and chief — well, only — artist. Robbie knows that they need a big break if the magazine is to survive, and so he drags Mac to what must have been one of the strangest (and quirkiest!!!) events of the period: the Eglinton Tournament of 1839, where a group of noblemen donned medieval armor to joust like knights of old.
THE BRIDE PRIZE: ALLAN’S MISCELLANY Blurb
It’s 1839, and Lord Eglinton’s tournament in Scotland is the most anticipated event of the year: he and some of his noble friends will don medieval armor and joust like knights of old.
Does this mean a revival of true chivalry? Miss Florence Marsh thinks it might.
Or is the tournament mere tomfoolery and the greatest folly of the century? Mr. Robert Beaton thinks it is.
But when Flo and Robbie meet at Eglinton Park, they’ll soon learn that a dash of romance can make the greatest differences look rather small and that true love might find you in the most unlikely place.
An excerpt can be found here.
B&N will follow soon
Kobo and B&N will follow soon
Sandra Schwab started writing her first novel when she was seven years old. Thirty-odd years later, telling stories is still her greatest passion, even though by now she has exchanged her pink fountain pen of old for a black computer keyboard. Since the release of her debut novel in 2005, she has enchanted readers worldwide with her unusual historical romances.
She lives in Frankfurt am Main / Germany with a sketchbook, a sewing machine, and an ever-expanding library.
Link up with Sandra on any of her social medial sites!