Published online by Cambridge University Press: 28 February 2020
William Maginn made the transition from a learned Cork schoolmaster corresponding anonymously with British periodical editors to one of the central figures of the London press. He began by writing gratis for Blackwood’s Magazine, and then, fearful of the ‘cheerless prospect’ of Cork in the ‘Captain Rock’ years, moving to London as a working professional. While he avoided the trap of writing chiefly on the ‘Irish question’ as some expected, he was enveloped in the persona of ‘Morgan Odoherty’, a comic Irish figure invented in Blackwood’s by others. Maginn and Odoherty for some became one – a similar situation to that faced by James Hogg with the ‘Ettrick Shepherd’. In his last fifteen years, Maginn used multiple periodicals to both practise the art of humbug and attack, especially in politics, the humbugs of the age. His founding in 1830 of Fraser’s Magazine for Town and Country was his central innovation in literary magazines and Tory politics during the Reform era.