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  • Cited by 3
  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: July 2010

10 - Journalism

Summary

The Victorians witnessed a boom in the volume of affordable books, magazines and newspapers produced to satisfy the demands of the first mass reading public. Wilkie Collins described this new audience as the 'Unknown Public', the millions of readers of cheap print who were more likely to acquire their literature from the tobacconist's shop than the circulating library. Collins's surprise at discovering this audience suggests how quickly affordable print had spread to sectors of the population formerly overlooked by publishers. Nearly everyone was exposed to print of some kind during an era offering over 25,000 different journals to the growing reading public. Periodicals, not books, were the most widely read genre of the nineteenth century. The innumerable kinds of prose writing by Victorian authors extended well beyond the novel, which was just one among many forms of print favoured by Victorian readers as a way of spending their leisure time. The ephemeral publications of this period capture in their pages nearly every aspect of Victorian culture. Journalism at this time encompassed a wide range of formats, from the quarterly review to the monthly magazine to the daily newspaper. While the term 'journalism' first entered the English lexicon in the 1830s, by the end of the century it had become one of the most distinctive features of the Victorian era.

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