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By Laurel Brake, Julie F. Codell (eds.)

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Extra resources for Encounters in the Victorian Press: Editors, Authors, Readers

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An engraving from the Illustrated London News of the queen’s visit to Birmingham in 1858 is typical of the standpoint adopted by the illustrated press. The engraving can be tellingly compared with the coverage of the same event by the Birmingham Daily Post. In Figure 3, the royal couple have been reduced to small figures, recognisable only by Victoria’s bonnet and parasol and Albert’s top hat being lifted to the crowd. This was a visual grammar repeated so often that it became iconographic. The magnificence of the arch is in marked contrast to the unostentatious appearance of Victoria and Albert themselves.

This battle occurs in the context of the broadening social readership of the press after the 1832 Reform Bill and at the time of the Chartist demands for a proletarian franchise. As such the serial fiction battles of the 1840s can be seen as a rehearsal of the debate over the New Journalism later in the century. However, before getting down to detail, it is necessary to outline the material conditions favouring the insertion of fiction into newspapers at the start of the Victorian era. Three main factors, all coming into play in the later 1830s, contribute to the emergence of the practice: changes in the British tax regime; new publishing activity in Paris; and developments in serial publication on the part of the London book publishers.

John Thompson, The Media and Modernity (Cambridge: Polity, 1995), 120–25. 7. James Vernon, Politics and the People: A Study in English Political Culture, c. 1815–1867 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), Patrick Joyce, Visions of the People: Industrial England and the Question of Class, c. 1848–1914 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991). , ReReading the Constitution: New Narratives in the Political History of England’s Long Nineteenth-Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995).

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