The importance of Victorian periodicals to modern scholars can scarcely be exaggerated. In scores of journals and thousands of articles there is a remarkable record of contemporary thought in every field, with a full range of opinion on every major question - a range exceeding what could be found, in many cases, in such books as were devoted to the topic being investigated. Furthermore, reviews and magazines reflect the current situation and are indispensable for the study of opinion at a given moment or in a short span of years.
Because nearly 75 per cent of all the articles in Victorian journals were published anonymously or pseudonymously,the identification of most of these writings is the major contribution of The Wellesley Index to Victorian Periodicals. The Index has made possible, for the first time, bibliographies of the periodical writings of almost ten thousand writers in thrity-five major journals. By assigning an average of 87 per cent of the articles to their contributors, it as enabled the scholar to read them more intelligently by knowing the charactersitic outlook of the author, and has provided the student of a particular writer with the names of the principal critics of his work.
The editors of the Index have chosen an initial date in the mid-twenties because the age seems to begin with the recognition, patent in the early essays of Carlyle, Macaulay, and Mill, that radical changes in politics and religion were on the horizon. The particular year, 1824, marked the founding of a major vehicle of new ideas, the Westminster Review. Index I covered eight journals, among them the Edinburgh (from its beginning in 1802), the Quarterly, the Contemporary, and the North British Reviews, together with Blackwoodd's Magazine and the Cornhill. Index II continued with the Dublin and Fortnightly Reviews, the Nineteenth Century, and, among magazines, Fraser's and the Pre-Raphaelite Oxford and Cambridge.
Volume III now adds fifteen more periodicals: Ainsworth's Magazine, the Atlantis, the British and Foreign Review, Mill's London Review and London and Westminster Review, the Modern Review, the Monthly Chronicle, Bagehot and Hutton's National Review, the New Monthly Magazine (1821-1854), the New Review, the Prospective Review, Saint Pauls Magazine, Temple Bar, the Theological Reviews, and the Westminster Review.It also contains an appendix of corrections and additions to Volumes I and II.
In all three volumes, Part A contains a tabular view of the contents, issue by issue, with the exception of poetry. This provides a student with the contents of a journal not available in a particular library. Moreover, when the contents of a number of journals are examined together, it becomes a record of the subjects being discussed in a given year or during a given period of time. Part B is a bibliography of articles arranged under the contributors' names. It provides, for most authors, the only list of their periodical writings, and in nearly all cases a more extensive one than now exists, because the unveiling of anonymity has meant the recapturing of "new" work. The combination of Parts A and B enables a scholar to learn either who wrote a given article or story, or what articles and stories were written by a given author. Part C is the first index of pseudonyms for nineteenth-century English periodicals.
By opening up new possibilities for the study of men and ideas, the Wellesley Index is proving to be an invaluable guide to the history of Victorian opinion in the fields of religion, politics, science, economics, travel, law, linguistics, music, the fine arts, and literature.
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