Thackeray's decorated initial 'A'lthough the publications immediately following Newbery's 1751 Lilliputian Magazine adhered to strictly moral and didactic materials, even publications by the SPCK recognized that there was an extensive market for and interest in more secular, generally non-fiction materials. Thus the SPCK published, alongside their strictly religious tracts, volumes such as Mungo Park's Travels and series containing titles such as 'The Ant' or 'The Tongue' for around 2s or 3d respectively. (Bratton 103) In spite of these forays into factual publications, these early religious periodicals primarily aimed to swamp young readers with morally upright literature. However, chapbooks and other scintillating books continued to be published throughout the early nineteenth century. Moreover, by the 1820s, secular publishers recognized the large and profitable market of children's periodicals and, alongside the gradual secularization of Victorian society, non-religious magazines flourished led by the inception of the Youth's Monthly Visitor in 1822. With occasional colored plates, this periodical, which only ran for two years, reflected the Victorian interest in science and knowledge by purposing to "strew flowers over the thorny path of science." (Youth's Monthly Visitor 1, no. 1, [Feb. 1822], 1)

The market for secular magazines, however, really took off with the introduction of the "Peter Parley" books from North America. Written by Samuel Griswold Goodrich under the pseudonym of Peter Parley, these travel books heralded a plethora of factual narratives and adventure-travel stories, spurred, in large part, by writers such as Captain Marryat and Robert Michael Ballantyne. In fact, the lack of a recognition of copyright meant that throughout the century, English publishers continued to plagiarize Goodrich's works, resulting in at least six different 'Peter Parley' magazines (Drotner 64).

Title-pages The Boy's Own Paper, 1883 (left) and Samuel Beeton's Boy's Own Magazine, 1874 (right). [Click on thumbnails for larger images.]

A more original offering, Samuel Beeton's Boy's Own Magazine: An Illustrated Journal of Fact, Fiction, History and Adventure, which ran from 1855 to 1874, reflected the general thirst for these factual magazines, and by 1862 an estimated 40,000 avid English boys devoured each issue of Boys' Own Magazine despite a tripled sales price from two to six pence (Drotner 67). The market for children's magazines continued to flourish throughout the latter half of the century, and the increasing sophistication and diversification of subsequent periodicals reflects the variety and interests of the young readers and the increasing recognition of various stages of childhood. For instance, Hodder and Stoughton produced a magazine for older boys, Merry and Wise: a Magazine for Young People (1865-1871), and so did Routledge with his Every Boy's Magazine, which begain in 1862 but lasted only four years.

On the other end of the spectrum, Cassell and Company targeted younger readers with their monthly Little Folks which ran for over half a century from 1871 onwards. Furthermore, Alexander Strahan's monthly Good Words for the Young (1868-77) priced at 6p also reflects the move away from strictly religious didactic tales with its merging of Christian values and fairy tales. Charles Kingsley's "Madam How and Lady Why" inaugurated the periodical in 1868 and subsequent editors include Norman Macleod and George MacDonald. In fact, MacDonald's beloved children's fantasy novel, At the Back of the North Wind, first appeared in serial form here (Drotner 68). Finally, 1880 marked the arrival of the Girl's Own Paper, the first magazine that specifically catered to young women. The magazzine, originally priced at 6p for a monthly bound issues, ran until 1956. (Drotner 115)

Related Material


Bratton, J.S. The Impact of Victorian Children's Fiction. London: Croom Helm; New Jersey: Barnes and Noble Books, 1981.

Drotner, Kristin. English Children and their Magazines, 1751-1945. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1988.

Haining, Peter, ed. The Penny Dreadful. London: Victor Gollancz, Ltd., 1976.

Hannabuss, C. Stuard. "Nineteenth-century Religious Periodicals for Children." British Journal of Religious Education. Vol. 6, No. 1, (1983), p. 20-40.

Springhall, John. "Disseminating Impure Literature": The 'Penny Dreadful' Publishing Business Since 1860." Economic History Review: New Series, Vol. 47, No. 3, (Aug., 1994), p. 567-584. Accessed on JSTOR, Brown University.

Last modified 2 August 2007