This essay responds to the question, what is in the Curran Index as of August, 2016?
1) Additions and Corrections to the Wellesley Index
Although the Wellesley investigators made every effort to be both comprehensive and correct, a project of that magnitude inevitably contained errors and omissions. Over time, further scholarship has shown that some seemingly well-considered attributions of articles were in fact incorrect. Sometimes improved justifications have been found for attributions that were initially presented as only conjectural. And new sources of information have come to light that support the attribution of articles whose contributor(s) were previously unknown. The Curran Index contains over a thousand article records either adding to or correcting entries in the Wellesley Index. Some of these corrections are minor – although, of course, the devil is in the details – but others are certainly not. It should also be noted that only some of these corrections are included in Proquest’s current on-line version of the Wellesley Index, whereas a complete set of them is included here.
2) Critical Reviews
The quarterly reviews which both formed and expressed critical opinion in the 19th century are central to the study of Victorian intellectual and literary history. The Wellesley team of scholars indexed the “big three” (the Edinburgh Review, the Quarterly Review, and the Westminster Review) as well as several others, but they did not fully accomplish their goals. In particular, limitations of time and resources hampered their explorations of those quarterly reviews that looked to the world outside the British Isles; while the Foreign Quarterly Review and the British and Foreign Review were included, many other important reviews were not.
In 1991, Eileen Curran published a Wellesley-like analysis of the late 1820s Foreign Review, a publication studded with distinguished contributors like Robert Southey and Thomas Carlyle. With this update her analysis has been incorporated into her namesake index. On several occasions she also announced her intention of publishing an attribution analysis for the Foreign and Colonial Quarterly Review, a mid-1840s periodical distinguished by contributions from W. E. Gladstone and other prominent figures. Unfortunately, she did not live to bring that project to completion. However, using her surviving notes in the Eileen Curran Papers archive at Colby College as a starting point, the current editor has been able to add a preliminary but substantive entry for this important periodical to the Curran Index. As it happens, in addition to political luminaries, a number of familiar 1840s literary figures, including Henry Fothergill Chorley, John Abraham Heraud, Richard Henry Horne, G.P.R. James, George Henry Lewes, Julia Sophia Pardoe, and Thomas Adolphus Trollope wrote for the Foreign and Colonial. The inclusion of their writings into this organized index should facilitate analyses of their careers and contributions to periodical literature.
Although the Wellesley scholars did not, apparently, contemplate extending their study to periodicals published outside of Great Britain, Dr. Antonietta Consonni has fortunately brought to our attention the existence of records of contributors to the Calcutta Review, a quarterly established in 1844 with the goal of being a “first class English periodical in India.” Revising Dr. Consonni's preliminary work on these records, this edition of the Curran Index includes detailed article-contributor information for the first ten volumes of the Calcutta Review, with more to come in the future. With this addition, a novel and distinctly Anglo-Indian perspective on culture, history, and literature has been brought into the characterization of Victorian periodicals.
The editors of the Wellesley Index also initially intended to delineate the arc of Anglican high church critical thought through the 19th century via analyses of the British Critic (1793-1843), the Church of England Quarterly Review (1837-1858), the English Review (1844-1853), the Christian Remembrancer (1819-1868), and the Church Quarterly Review (1875-1900 and beyond). Unfortunately, these studies were not completed during the course of that project. Under the auspices of the Wellesley Index, Esther Rhodes Houghton produced a lengthy attribution study for the British Critic, a pivotal publication in that it eventually became the central critical organ of the Oxford Movement. For various reasons this analysis was not included in Volume IV of the Wellesley Index, a decision which the last editor of the Wellesley Index, Jean Slingerland, came to regret. However, Esther Houghton's typescript has survived in the archives of the Wellesley Index which are maintained at Wellesley College, and is now published for the first time, with additional material. This edition of the Curran Index thus at last opens to scholarly view the contents and writers of the British Critic as detailed in Houghton’s long-buried study. Additionally, thanks to Russell Wyland, we are able to report some early 1814-1823 British Critic attributions associated with John Taylor Coleridge and John Keble.
The Church Quarterly Review was the dominant high-church critical review in the last quarter of the 19th century. As Josef Altholz has written, “everybody who was anybody in the high church wrote for this new review.” But who were these people, and what did they write? Altholz, part of the Wellesley project team, found a limited marked file and a few summary articles supporting the attribution of 83 articles, which he published in 1984 independently of the Wellesley, in the Victorian Periodicals Review. With this edition of the Curran Index we have built upon Altholz's work to report a far more extensive listing for the Church Quarterly Review, now encompassing over 1,000 articles and all issues between 1875 and 1900. Our attribution rate is about 25% -- not great by Wellesley standards -- but still constituting a significant addition to our knowledge base. Readers of the Curran Index will be able to assign names to those who were presenting and establishing High Church positions on topics such as socialism, evolution, education, missionary activities, treatment of the poor, and contemporary writers.
3) Verse in Victorian Periodicals
One major limitation of the Wellesley Index was the decision not to include verse. Victorian miscellanies – periodicals such as Blackwood’s Magazine, Fraser’s Magazine, Bentley’s Miscellany, the Cornhill, Macmillan’s Magazine, and the New Monthly Magazine – featured prose interspersed with poetry, much of it unsigned. Houghton and his associates questioned the lasting value of much of this poetry, particularly when weighed against the enormous difficulty of arriving at plausible attributions for a significant portion of it. Now, after Linda Hughes’ influential article, periodical verse’s value is indisputable. If verse is ignored, our understanding of the construction and presentation of miscellanies, the contributors to these periodicals, and the values and interests of the Victorian reading public will be misconceived.
Eileen Curran recognized this deficiency, and in 1999 she published in Victorian Periodicals Review an extended bibliographical study of verse in Bentley’s Miscellany. Others are also addressing this shortfall, perhaps most notably in Alison Chapman’s Victorian Poetry Network and in the Periodical Poetry Index, co-directed by Natalie Houston, Lindsy Lawrence, and April Patrick. This edition of the Curran Index incorporates an attribution analysis of verse in five prominent London-based monthlies through the year 1854.
Dr. Curran’s earlier Bentley’s Miscellany assessment has been heavily revised and extended. Our analysis of verse in Fraser’s Magazine was stimulated by an initial listing kindly provided by Professor David Latané. The listings for Ainsworth’s Magazine, the Metropolitan Magazine, and the New Monthly Magazine are entirely new. In toto, the Curran Index indexes 5,300 poems or verse groups, 75% of which are attributed; the attributed poems are associated with 529 known unique authors. Many of the major poets of the era are represented; however, perhaps even more interesting are the shifting allegiances and contributions of the many workaday Victorian poets whose literary pathways can be traced through these listings.
4) The Metropolitan Magazine
The Wellesley Index covered the prose of a number of prominent monthly periodicals of the 1830s and 1840s. However, the Metropolitan Magazine, although initially considered for inclusion, did not make the final cut. Of course, contributors migrated back and forth among the major competing early Victorian miscellanies, and various features, article concepts, and editorial positions reflected this competitive environment. To understand and fully appreciate the jockeying for position, contributors, and readers among these periodicals, one should include the Metropolitan.
The Metropolitan was conceived as a virtual clone of the 1820s New Monthly Magazine; it was a true miscellany, and was a significant although not dominant contender in the marketplace. Its politics were moderately Whiggish – generally pro-reform, but not wedded to any party or any politician. Each issue of the Metropolitan had from 8 or 9 to 14 prose articles as well as a number of poems. One of the distinguishing aspects of the Metropolitan was that both fiction and non-fiction were often serialized; a second interesting aspect is that it was a chameleon publication, taking on different colorings over time.
The Curran Index now includes a full listing of both prose (2,108 articles) and verse (1,479 poems or poem groups) published in the Metropolitan from May 1831 through its final issue in May of 1850; indeed, this may be the only extended attribution-oriented table of contents listing for a Victorian monthly that includes both verse and prose. Metropolitan contributors included Victorian periodical figures such as John Banim, Dudley Costello, Catherine Gore, James Hogg, Richard Henry Horne, Eliza Linton, David Moir, James Montgomery, Lady Morgan, Sir Charles Morgan, William Pickersgill, John Poole, Samuel Warren, and James White. Any examinations of these authors or their works, or of their various migrations among or interactions with different periodicals and editors, should presumably include the Metropolitan. And among authors not included in the Wellesley Index one finds in the Metropolitan intriguing figures such as Georgina Chatterton, Hannah Clay (best known for her writings in the Ladies Companion), Catherine Grace Godwin, James Grant (author of The Great Metropolis), Hargrave Jennings, Marion Moss (publisher of the first Jewish women’s periodical), Harriott Pigott, Harriet Anne Scott, and Marianne Young / Postans.
5) The Annuals
A new category of periodicals, the Annuals rose to prominence and subsequently fell to decline in the 1820s-1850s. Normally issued at the beginning of November for the holiday market, Annuals were elaborately bound gift books which typically contained steel plate engravings, poetry, and light fiction. Annuals were not included in the Wellesley Index. Although the Annuals were held in light regard by many critics of the era, it is nevertheless true that almost every major literary figure of the period --including the Brownings, Carlyle, Coleridge, Dickens, Scott, Tennyson, Thackeray, Wordsworth, and others -- contributed to them. Of course, the great majority of the contributors to the annuals were relative unknowns, and some were then and now rather completely unknown! Most Annual stories or verses were signed, or at least initialed, but the names or initials were often obscure, pseudonyms were often used, and some items were published without any indication as to their author or authors.
The standard bibliographic study of the Annuals is Andrew Boyle’s 1967 book. This is an invaluable, though dated, resource. Unfortunately, Boyle often did not find the true identities behind pseudonyms or initials; did not appreciate that certain writers who used different identifying signatures at different times were, in fact, identical; and did not have the benefit of the research into editors’ correspondence which has occurred in the last fifty years. Moreover, perhaps because the Annuals’ cultural importance was not appreciated by many scholars until recent years, the Annuals were generally not treated in concert with other Victorian periodicals.
Yet to understand the phenomenon of the Annuals (in the same manner as one seeks to understand the prestige and importance of the quarterly reviews, or the popularity and significance of the early Victorian monthly miscellanies), one should not neglect the people who created their copy. Further, the contributors to the London monthlies were, by and large, also contributors to the Annuals. Efforts to consider the roles of these writers, or the composite workings of contributors in the periodical marketplace, should surely consider all these types of periodicals in tandem.
The Curran Index now includes the complete 1827-1856 run of the Keepsake (perhaps the most famous Annual) and the Scottish Annual (which may be one of the most obscure, as only one issue was published, in Glasgow in 1836). Many additions and corrections have been made to Boyle’s Keepsake study; further, the analysis of the Scottish Annual is entirely new, as Boyle did not examine it. Authors of roughly two-thirds of the articles in each of these annuals were deemed important enough by posterity to be included in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Many of these contributors were not listed in the Wellesley Index, and it is noteworthy that nearly half of the Keepsakes’ contributions were by women.
As always, questions, comments, and suggestions about anything having to do with the Curran Index or attribution research are most welcome. Please send these to firstname.lastname@example.org.