The Lady’s Museum Project: An Open-Access Critical and Teaching Edition of Charlotte Lennox’s the Lady’s Museum (1760–1761)

Henry Robert Morland, 1730–1797, British, Woman Reading by a Paper-Bell Shade, 1766, Oil on canvas, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, B1989.32.

Henry Robert Morland, 1730–1797, British, Woman Reading by a Paper-Bell Shade, 1766, Oil on canvas, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, B1989.32.

Published between 1760 and 1761 and believed largely to be written by Charlotte Lennox (it was marketed as “by the Author of The Female Quixote”), the Lady’s Museum sought simultaneously to educate and entertain its readership.  It did so through a variety of media, including letters to and from the editor, poetry, biography, history, natural history, natural philosophy, translation, educational treatise, geography—even perhaps the first serialized novel.  Initially launched in 2021 and continued through 2023 with the support of the Canadian Society of Eighteenth Century Studies’s (CSECS) D. W. Smith Research Fellowship and the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies’s (ASECS) Women’s Caucus Editing and Translation Fellowship, the Lady’s Museum Project is an open-access, in-progress critical edition of (and learning community around) Lennox’s visually stunning and fascinating early magazine, featuring both audiobook and interactive, textual editions (for a one-page project overview, click here.)

The Lady’s Museum Project presents Lennox’s two-volume magazine—the first updated version since its initial eighteenth-century edition printed by John Newbery—in two forms: an abridged teaching edition intended for an audience of undergraduate-student and public users, and a scholarly edition aimed at eighteenth-century specialists.  Previously, the periodical was housed behind the paywall of Eighteenth-Century Collections Online (ECCO); however, as of fall 2023, volumes 1 and 2 of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library’s holdings are now freely available to the public on its website and linked to from (thanks to Rebecca Maguire, MSW and the Public Services and Reproductions teams at Yale University for these high-quality scans).  Scholars and students can now compare the original edition—including its illustrations, maps, and figures—side by side with the text on, which used as its base text the Oxford Text Creation Partnership (TCP) transcriptions.

The teaching and critical editions are purposefully included side-by-side within the same .com, community-centered site (rather than as a .edu, which would have associated the site with one institution) in order to practice feminist editing principles that decenter traditional binaries of scholar/student, editor/writer.  The co-editors have designed this editorial space and apparatus for “coworkers” from various institutions, nations, and educational and professional backgrounds to likewise work side-by-side to co-create a version accessible to both audiences for this historic feminist recovery work.

The website was initially conceived when (then-graduate students) Karenza Sutton-Bennett (Ph.D., University of Ottawa) and Kelly Plante (Ph.D., Wayne State University) teamed up to design a digital home for the course reader and curriculum developed by Professor Susan Carlile (University of California, Long Beach) and (now Dr.) Sutton-Bennett and published on Aphra Behn Online:  Interactive Journal for Women in the Arts (1640–1840) (Carlile and Sutton-Bennett).  We are grateful to Professor Carlile for her encouragement, support, and positive example in her feminist recovery work.  The site has expanded beyond that initial conception; it has morphed into an in-progress learning community, a communication hub that prioritizes relationships, mentorship, and care.  This site, in other words, values DH process over “product.”

Feminist DH Theory and Method

Past, present, and future collaborators in this transnational and transdisciplinary effort to recover the work of Lennox, the trailblazing editor, and of periodical studies and the history of women in the press more generally, are affectionately referred to as “Triflers,” borrowing the term from the Lady’s Museum’s “The Trifler” section, as outlined in the Eighteenth-Century Fiction article, “A Numerous and Powerful Generation of Triflers”: The Social Edition as Counterpublic in Charlotte Lennox’s the Lady’s Museum (1760–61) and the Lady’s Museum Project (2021–).”  The co-editors adopted this idea of “trifling” as a DH method to center “care and maintenance over innovation” and to draw a distinction between this “small data” project and “Big Dick Data Projects” (Barnett; D’Ignazio and Klein).  Catherine D’Ignazio and Lauren F. Klein characterize “Big Dick Data Projects” as “masculinist, totalizing fantasies of world domination as enacted through data capture and analysis.  Big Dick Data projects ignore context, fetishize size, and inflate their technical and scientific capabilities” (D’Ignazio and Klein).

Committed to practicing intersectional feminism wherever and whenever possible, the co-editors have presented on three ways of practicing intersectionality in DH projects (by spotlighting group-, process-, and system-generated inequities for multiply marginalized persons), adapted from intersectional sociology and educational policy research, outlining the methods by which we continuously strive to do so (Robert and Yu; Choo and Ferree; Twenty-First Century Digital Editing & Publishing).  Group-centered intersectionality—representation of multiply marginalized persons—and process- and system-centered intersectionality—spotlighting processes and systemic oppression of multiply marginalized groups—can be discussed and practiced in classes that assign the imperialism curriculum option, including the Lady’s Geography and Princess Padmani series, which depict women of present-day Ambon Island, Sri Lanka, and India (Carlile and Sutton-Bennett).  (The project would be enriched by more critical introductions to orient generalist and nonspecialist readers on these subjects; contact the editors as outlined at the bottom of this article and here, if you and/or your students would be interested in writing and publishing on these and other subjects).

The Abridged Teaching Edition (2021–2023)

The project has, as of fall 2023, completed phases 1 and 2 of its three-phase developmental cycle.  The teaching edition is now 100% annotated by undergraduate students, for undergraduate students, with definitions that reference and link externally to Johnson’s Online Dictionary and critical introductions to contextualize readings (like “Charlotte Lennox, Eco-Feminist?” by Spring/Summer 2023 intern Bailey Meyerhoff).  It is fully ready to enhance and assist your teaching of the historic literary magazine.  Classrooms in institutions across the U.S. and Canada, including the University of Ottawa, Wayne State, Brandeis, and Texas Woman’s universities and the Community College of Rhode Island, have developed the annotations and critical introductions and beta tested the text, assignments, and activities.  All individuals are credited with gratitude on the About this Project page and attributed prominently with bylines at the beginnings of the annotated texts and critical introductions.

The Full-Text Critical Edition (2024–2026)

Entering into phase 3, the project carries forth the collaborative, collegial spirit that built the teaching apparatus into the critical edition.  The team seeks to connect with graduate and postgraduate, early- and mid-career and senior scholars who are interested in participating at various levels in building this very first critical edition of the Lady’s Museum, using feminist DH methods that destabilize the traditional editorial process in ways only possible in an online edition.  In 2024, we will be presenting our plans for the critical edition and soliciting interested collaborators from a variety of institutions and generations of scholars, at the British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (BSECS) and in an ASECS-sponsored roundtable at that organization’s annual meeting with collaborators Professor Ashley Bender (Texas Woman’s University), Professor Carlile, Jennifer Factor (Ph.D. candidate, Brandeis University), Professor Karen Griscom (Community College of Rhode Island), and Bailey Meyerhoff (graduate student, Wayne State University).  Also in 2024, the book chapter “‘The present therefore seems improbable, the future most uncertain’:  Transcending Academia through Charlotte Lennox’s Lady’s Museum (1760–61),” will be published in Twenty-First Century Digital Editing & Publishing, edited by Dr. James O’Sullivan (Scottish Universities Press) in/with support of the C21 Editions initiative funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Irish Research Council (IRC) as part of the UK-Ireland Collaboration in Digital Humanities.

Read/Work with Us

If you are interested in joining this “numerous and powerful generation of triflers” from the eighteenth- and twenty-first centuries, please do not hesitate to contact us at at  Collaborative projects could include, for instance, teaching with this edition, inviting the co-editors for a talk at your institution, learning more about the Lady’s Museum and this project’s theory and praxis, annotating articles or writing introductory, contextualizing essays, or providing students with the opportunity to annotate and write introductions.  Instructors can use our lesson plan as a guide.

Social Reading Options

The website enables social reading by integrating and embedding PDFs for upload to course learning management systems and Perusall.  Users can also print the PDFs of the teaching edition and the Lady’s Museum Project bookmark.

The Lady’s LibriVox:  Open-Access Audiobook of the Lady’s Museum 

In the spirit of destabilizing teacher/student and editor/contributor binaries, the Lady’s Museum Project also declines to privilege the printed (or digitized) text over either image or spoken word.  Enter the Lady’s LibriVox subproject in which Factor spearheaded the recording process for the first open-access audiobook of the magazine, starting with her (excellent) narration of Lennox’s satirical “Trifler” essays.  Summer 2023 saw the completion of volume 1, now available to listen to in full (and assign to classes) on and  Volume 1 was project-managed by (now Dr.) Plante, and volume 2 is being managed by Dr. Sutton-Bennett.  You can volunteer to lend your voice to the feminist and periodical recovery project by signing up to read a section at the Lady’s Museum, vol. 2 LibriVox page.

Write and Publish on

The project will be enriched by more critical introductions and essays, especially intersectional-feminist readings of the Lady’s Museum and essays that interrogate imperialism in the History of Princess Padmani, Original Inhabitants of Great Britain, and Lady’s Geography article series.  It would also benefit from more general introductions aimed at student readers and a generalist audience (such as “Critical Reception of the Lady’s Museum,” “Genres in the Lady’s Museum,” “Lennox and Translation,” “Lennox and Samuel Johnson,” etc.).  For a list of critical introduction topic ideas, go to  To pitch or submit a new article, or one you or a student has written for a class, email the editors at at


We have mentored undergraduate and graduate student interns interested in publishing and editing careers from Brandeis University, Texas Woman’s University, the University of Massachusetts, the University of Ottawa, and Wayne State University.  Brandeis and Wayne State universities funded the graduate student internships.  There have also been less formal mentorship relationships, which we are always happy to develop.  Publishing and editing internship and mentorship relationships are always tailored to students’ interests.  Students are coached through the process of writing critical introductions, annotating articles, and/or audiobook narration and publishing.  We are interested in adding the Lady’s Museum Project to other university and college English departments’ lists of internship opportunities, so that more students can have the experience of writing and thinking about literature professionally.


Works Cited

Barnett, Fiona.  “The Brave Side of Digital Humanities,” differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 25.1 (2014):  64–78.

Carlile, Susan.  “‘Before I am Quite Forgot’:  Women’s Critical Literary Biography and the Future.”  Aphra Behn Online (ABO):  Interactive Journal of Women in the Arts, 1640–1840 13.1 (2023).

Carlile, Susan and Karenza Sutton-Bennett.  Aphra Behn Online (ABO):  Interactive Journal of Women in the Arts, 1640–1840 12.1 (2022).

Choo, Hae Yeon and Myra Marx Ferree.  “Practicing Intersectionality in Sociological Research:  A Critical Analysis of Inclusions, Interactions, and Institutions in the Study of Inequalities,” Sociological Theory 28.2 (2010).

D’Ignazio, Catherine and Lauren F. Klein.  Data Feminism.  Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, 2020.

Plante, Kelly J.  “The Lady’s Museum Project:  A Digital Critical Edition in Phase 1 of Its Development, Now Available for Teachers and Students to Learn Collaboratively through Charlotte Lennox’s Lady’s Museum (1761-62).”  Aphra Behn Online (ABO):  Interactive Journal of Women in the Arts, 1640–1840 12.1 (2022).

Plante, Kelly J. and Karenza Sutton-Bennett.  “‘A Numerous and Powerful Generation of Triflers’:  The Social Edition as Counterpublic in Charlotte Lennox’s the Lady’s Museum (1760–61) and the Lady’s Museum Project (2021–).”  Eighteenth-Century Fiction 35.2 (2023).

—. “‘The present therefore seems improbable, the future most uncertain’:  Transcending Academia through Charlotte Lennox’s Lady’s Museum (1760–61).”  Twenty-First Century Digital Editing & Publishing.  Scottish Universities Press, 2024.

Robert, Sara A. and Min Yu.  “Intersectionality in Transnational Education Policy Research.”  Review of Research in Education 42.1 (2018):  93– 121.

Sutton-Bennett, Karenza.  “Intellect versus Politeness:  Charlotte Lennox and Women’s Minds.”  Eighteenth-Century Fiction 35.3 (2023):  375–96.

“No less than High Treason”: Libel and Sensationalism in the Careers of Jacobite Periodicalists George Flint and Isaac Dalton

Unknown artist after Thomas Malton the Younger, 1748–1804, British. Newgate (1799). Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

The early eighteenth-century British press was a hotbed for propaganda wars:  in the midst of the Succession Crisis, both Whig and Tory writers in London kept their fingers on the pulse of foreign affairs, war, and national politics.  Renowned writers Joseph Addison and Richard Steele published on local goings-on, religion, and literature in their notably Whig periodicals, The Spectator and The Tatler.  Henry Fielding satirized Jacobites after the Rebellion of 1745 in The Jacobite’s Journal.  Though far less popular, the pro-Tory and pro-Jacobite press was booming, as well.  One pair of British periodicalists that quietly rose to notoriety was duo George Flint and Isaac Dalton, who published a series of treasonous Jacobite journals from 1715 to 1717.  Weekly Remarks and Political Reflections, Upon the Most Material News Foreign and Domestick ran from 1715 to 1716 and landed Flint, its author, in Newgate Prison after he was arrested in July, 1716 for seditious libel.  He continued to write and have his periodicals published, though, and produced Robin’s Last Shift in 1716, which became The Shift Shifted later that year, and Shift’s Last Shift in 1717 as it attempted to outrun further government censorship.  Dalton, his printer, was arrested and imprisoned four separate times for offences to the crown.  Though their individual timelines are fascinating by definition, it is also worth investigating Flint and Dalton’s popularity and skill as periodicalists.  After the first arrests, Flint began to keep a log of their prison experiences, as well as the subsequent involvement and arrests of their family members, which proved quite popular with readers.  Through their persistence and command of pathos, Dalton and Flint’s periodicals provided both strength and exposure to the Jacobite movement in a time of unmatched government suppression.

Flint first published Weekly Remarks on December 3, 1715—just months after the Jacobite rebellion in Scotland and northern England, and only days before the Pretender himself would land on Scottish soil.  For years, tensions had been brewing between the Whigs, who supported the Hanoverian ascendancy to the British throne, and the Jacobites, who supported the Stuart line of succession and were planning to take immediate action.  With James II still in France, the Earl of Mar called a war meeting in Braemar, Scotland, to discuss plans for the rebellion.  In the fall of 1715, the Jacobites failed to capture Edinburgh Castle, but were successful in taking Inverness, Castle Gordon, Dundee, and Perth—“virtually the whole of Scotland” (Sinclair-Stevenson 96).  However, both the Scottish and English Jacobite forces failed to make an impact against the government armies in October when they fell in both the battles of Sheriffmuir and of Preston.  Shortly after, James sailed from France to Scotland; the December 24 edition of Weekly Remarks reports “this Day or Two, That the Pretender is Landed,” and that a number of Londoners were heard singing Jacobite ballads in the streets (Weekly Remarks, 4: 23-24).  Not long after arriving, however, James escaped from Scotland before the government began to severely persecute the Jacobites.

In his introduction to the first installment of Weekly Remarks, Flint claims the publication would be the source of “a pretty clear and impartial Judgement” (Weekly Remarks, 1: 1).  Each Saturday, the journal printed the news of a number of countries (like Spain, Italy, Germany, and Great Britain) and paired entries with a “Remarks” section, in which the author editorialized on that week’s foreign affairs.  For this Flint was arrested and tried in the summer of 1716:  the Old Bailey criminal court record states he “confess’d he was concern’d in writing the said Libel with another Person, which was to be of a different Nature from any yet publish’d:  That the Prisoner was seen to write some Part of the said Paper.  That it came from his own Hands to the Press.  And that he had own’d to my Lord Townshend and others, he wrote it for his Bread” (“Trial of George Flint”).  Though he had been arrested and imprisoned earlier that year for printing Robin’s Last Shift,I Dalton was again indicted and imprisoned alongside Flint; he was found guilty of cursing King George and attempting to pay prison guards to drink to the Pretender’s health.  He was also charged with seditious libel for printing Weekly Remarks, but “the Evidence failing in fixing that particularly, for which he was cried, upon the Prisoner, he was acquitted” (“Trial of Isaac Dalton” July, 1716).

Dalton would be found guilty of two more crimes related to his Jacobitical printing activities:  in November of 1716, he was charged with seditious libel for printing The Shift Shifted.  In May of 1717, he was again found guilty of libel—this time for printing a pamphlet (titled “Advise to the Freeholders of England”) a number of years previous to his work with Flint.II  This resulted in two additional imprisonments to be served following his July sentence of one year at Newgate, as well as fines to be paid and a day spent in the pillory.  In the article “Liberty and Libel:  Government and the Press during the Succession Crisis in Britain, 1712-1716,” P. B. J. Hyland describes this punishment as “a symbol of the ministry’s triumph, and perhaps to avenge its earlier humiliation” (Hyland 881).  But the Weekly Remarks would not be put down so quietly, no matter the efforts the government took to silence Flint and Dalton.  Through their own writing (before that privilege was taken away) and the interference run by family members, they continued to publish their periodicals, condemning the treatment of prisoners at Newgate and the overall actions of the government with a renewed passion.  One excerpt from the August 18, 1716, edition of The Shift Shifted describes Flint’s imprisonment as unthinkable and cruel.  As they starved and endured overly cramped quarters, the inmates were punished for attempting to share their rations with one another.  Flint himself “contracted another cruel Sickness,” and his wife was soon also sent to prison for helping publish The Shift Shifted (The Shift Shifted, 16:94).  The account, a dramatic exercise in pity and shock, reads,

“Yet his Wife for endeavouring to help her Husband, (which most think to be a Wive’s Duty) and in a way which she could not think unlawful, is also close imprison’d, and cannot be let out upon Bail, tho’ the Husband (beside the Bail) offers to take upon himself whatsoever his Wife can be charg’d with.  Now one would think her Crime could be no less than High Treason, and at the same time it is alledged to be no more than Ordering the Carriage of a few News-Papers.”  (The Shift Shifted, 16:94)

Neither man was stranger to this kind of rhetorical appeal.  In remarking on the Battle of Sheriffmuir in the December 3, 1715, edition of Weekly Remarks, Flint describes the horrors seen by the Jacobite soldiers on the battlefield:  they stood “like Motionless Statues, seeing their Friends cut to pieces by one third of their Number” (Weekly Remarks 1:5).  But perhaps the most provocative account Dalton and Flint provide is another entry in the August 18 edition of The Shift Shifted, following Dalton’s July arrest.  In an sensationally dramatized fashion, it details the subsequent arrest of Dalton’s sister, Mary, for continuing to print the treasonous periodicals after Flint and Dalton were arrested:

To do Good and Suffer Evil, is to act a Royal Part; and therefore I am not a little pleas’d that it is faln to my Share, to undergo so much Evil for endeavouring to do good to my Country … However, to imprison a Man for a Fancy, tho’ he be thereby ruin’d, we wave that as a Trifle, a Nothing to Moloch.  But to take his young Maiden Sister only for happening to receive a little Money for him; for this, I say, to cram her into a Messenger’s, and thence bring her directly to the Bar, all overwhelm’d with Tears and Confusion, without a Moment’s Preparation for her Tryal, and there after a Fine of 30 Marks, appoint the beautiful young modest Maiden to remain confin’d for a Twelvemonth in a loathsome Gaol, conversing with the Strums of Newgate.  Suppose she have innocently assisted her Brother in his Distress, does that (call it a crime) come up to this Punishment?  Was ever such a Virgin ever so unmercifully expos’d for such a Crime.”  (The Shift Shifted, 16:94)

As McDowell asserts in The Women of Grub Street:  Press, Politics, and Gender in the London Literary Marketplace 1678-1730, Dalton was clearly crafting his words in an entirely gendered way to gain sympathy from the public for his and his sister’s situation:  “Isaac Dalton represented [Mary] as a sentimental heroine in the merciless clutches of an oppressive ministry … as a genteel young lady” who ultimately “became a martyr to the government” (McDowell 108-109).  And it worked.  Randall McGowen notes that the pillory “inflicted humiliation and brought notoriety to an offender, at least as much as physical suffering” (McGowen 123).  But the crowd that assembled the day Dalton was pilloried at Newgate did not curse at him or throw rotten tomatoes his way; they cheered him on and collected money for him to pay his fines instead (Hyland 881-882).

Flint and Dalton’s powerful publications accomplished what the English government wanted to avoid at all costs.  As Kathleen Wilson argues in “Inventing Revolution:  1688 and Eighteenth-Century Popular Politics,” they and other Jacobite journalists had become successful critics of Whig ideology, penning vivid editorials on the party’s corruption and abuse of power.  They believed “the government was a trust, based on popular consent, in which people of all ranks had residual rights separate from those of their representatives.  These included the rights to a free press, to lawful assembly, and to canvass public affairs and protest against bad governments and bad laws” (Wilson 372).  When those rights were infringed upon, Flint and Dalton were quick to remark on it in their writing, and their subsequent arrests only bolstered the frenzied reports featured in their periodicals.  They had amassed a following—both among fellow Jacobites, and among the pro-government Whig newspapers that continuously reported on their misdeeds and run-ins with the law.  What started out as an underground effort to undermine the politics of their enemies quickly became an intense and public battle that gave the Jacobite movement new exposure in London.  In using descriptive storytelling, interrogating moral and ethical norms, and appealing to the sympathies of their audience, Flint and Dalton brought the Jacobite movement to the forefront of English politics by changing the government’s own game.


I.  See both the March 17 and 31, 1716 editions of James Read’s The Weekly Journal, Or, British Gazetteer, Being the Freshest Advices Foreign and Domestick for briefs on Dalton’s original arrest.

II.  See both the November, 1716 and May, 1717 trials of Isaac Dalton on the Old Bailey Proceedings Online.

Works Cited

Flint, George.  “Great Britain.”  The Shift Shifted, Or, Weekly Remarks and Political Reflections, Upon the Most Material News Foreign and Domestick.  August 18, 1716.

—.  “Great Britain.”  Weekly Remarks and Political Reflections, Upon the Most Material News Foreign and Domestick.  December 24, 1715.

—.  “Introduction.”  Weekly Remarks and Political Reflections, Upon the Most Material News Foreign and Domestick.  December 3, 1715.

Hyland, P. B. J. “Liberty and Libel:  Government and the Press during the Succession Crisis in Britain, 1712-1716.”  The English Historical Review 101.401 (1986):  863-888.  JSTOR.

McDowell, Paula.  “‘To Run Oneself Into Danger’:  Women and the Politics of Opposition in the London Book Trade.”  The Women of Grub Street:  Press, Politics, and Gender in the London Literary Marketplace 1678-1730.  Oxford:  Clarendon Press, 1998.  1-120.

McGowan, Randall.  “From Pillory to Gallows:  The Punishment of Forgery in the Age of the Financial Revolution.”  Past & Present 165 (1999):  107-140.  JSTOR.

Read, James. “Great Britain.”  The Weekly Journal, Or, British Gazetteer, Being the Freshest Advices Foreign and Domestick.  March 17, 1716.

—.  “Great Britain.”  The Weekly Journal, Or, British Gazetteer, Being the Freshest Advices Foreign and Domestick.  March 31, 1716.

Sinclair-Stevenson, Christopher.  Inglorious Rebellion:  The Jacobite Risings of 1708, 1715, and 1719.  New York, St. Martin’s Press, 1971.

“Trial of George Flint, July 1716 (t17160712-5).” Old Bailey Proceedings Online.  Accessed May 1, 2019.

“Trial of Isaac Dalton, July 1716 (t17160712-4).”  Old Bailey Proceedings Online.  Accessed May 1, 2019.

“Trial of Isaac Dalton, November 1716 (t17161105-81).”  Old Bailey Proceedings Online.  Accessed 1 May, 2019.

“Trial of Isaac Dalton, May 1717, (t17170501-54).”  Old Bailey Proceedings Online.  Accessed May 1, 2019.

Sheffield: Print, Protest and Poetry, 1790-1810

SheffieldSheffield:  Print, Protest and Poetry, 1790-1810 is an ever-growing digital anthology of protest poetry printed in Sheffield’s radical press at the end of the eighteenth century.

Directed by Dr. Hamish Mathison and researched by Dr. Adam James Smith, the anthology was born of an AHRC-funded cultural engagement project focusing on the full collections of The Sheffield Register (1787-1794) and The Sheffield Iris (1794-1825), newspapers held in University Library Special Collections.  The Register was edited by Joseph Gales, the Iris by Sheffield’s legendary poet and prolific champion of cause, James Montgomery.

Writing under the close scrutiny of suspicious local authorities both the Register and the Iris presented their most controversial material in a section referred to affectionately by readers as “Poetry Corner.”  This section saw the publication of a different poem each week (either written by a Sheffield resident or aggregated from elsewhere) but usually addressed to one of a series of recurrent themes:  religious integration, racial equality, worker’s rights, universal access to education, and political enfranchisement for all.

An overarching concern was that if the government could not legally be criticized, then there remained no safe-guard against tyranny.  As one reader’s poem warned in April 1793, this seemed to be increasingly the case:

We may speak (it is true) if we mind what we say;

But to speak all we think, will not suit in our day.

These lines proved prophetic, with the Register coming to an abrupt close a few months later.  Charged with “conspiracy against the government,” Gales was forced to abandon the paper to start a new life in America as a fugitive.

The Sheffield: Print, Protest Poetry, 1790-1810 project has been releasing a different poem every week, and online readers have been surprised and excited by how prescient they have proved.  One poem titled “On the Effects of Gold” warned that political reform was never likely whilst politicians were more interested in lining their own pockets.  This poem was made live on the Sheffield: Print, Protest Poetry, 1790-1810 website the day before the Panama Papers story broke.

The first installment of the anthology focuses on poems printed between 1794 and 1796, marking the transition from the Register to the Iris.  This transition was brought about when the editor of the Register was charged with conspiracy against the government and forced to flee to America.  There will also be a printed anthology titled Poetry, Conspiracy, Radical in Sheffield (Spirit Duplicator, 2016), and new recordings of some of these poems have already been released on Soundcloud.  We also have a Podcast, which seeks to situate these poems in broader national contexts.  You can follow Sheffield: Print, Protest and Poetry, 1790-1810 on Facebook and Twitter.

The Lady’s Magazine (1770-1818): Understanding the Emergence of a Genre

LadysMagazineThe Lady’s Magazine (1770-1818): Understanding the Emergence of a Genre’ is a two-year project funded by the Leverhulme Trust Research Project Grant scheme.  The team of academics behind it is based at the University of Kent and is led by Jennie Batchelor, who works closely with the project’s two full-time Postdoctoral Researchers:  Koenraad Claes and Jenny DiPlacidi.  Our aim is to shed new light on one of the first and longest running women’s magazines of all time.

In an 1840 letter to Hartley Coleridge, Charlotte Brontë wrote that she wished “with all [her] heart” that she “had been born in time to contribute to the Lady’s magazine,” a periodical that ran for 13 issues per annum from more than six decades and had an estimated circulation of 10,000 monthly copies at the height of its popularity.  170 years later the history and cultural and literary importance of a publication, the vast majority of the original content of which was produced by unknown and unpaid reader-contributors, remains undocumented.

Our project fills this significant gap through a detailed bibliographical, statistical and literary-critical analysis of one of the first recognizably modern magazines for women from its inception in 1770 until the launch of its new series in 1818.  In its two-pronged book history/literary critical approach, this project sets out to answer three key research questions:

  • What made the Lady’s Magazine one of the most popular and enduring titles of its day?
  • What effects might an understanding of the magazine’s content, production, and circulation have upon our conceptions of Romantic-era print culture?
  • What role did the Lady’s Magazine play in the long-term development of the women’s magazine and the history of women’s writing?

In response to these questions, we are producing an open-access fully annotated, downloadable index of the magazine’s content for its first 50 years, which will launch in September 2016.  Titles of articles are accompanied by the names or pseudonyms of their contributors, and their contributors’ status (author, translator, extracter, or pilferer) is given wherever it can be clearly ascertained.  Attributions are made where possible.  In fact, we are amassing a small but growing body of evidence about a number of regular and mostly unknown contributors to the magazine and their lives or careers beyond its pages.  We regularly publish about these discoveries, and many other topics besides, on our project blog.

In addition to illuminating the production and composition of the magazine, we also pay detailed attention to its diverse, text-based contents.  Since the titles of articles in the Lady’s Magazine are often misleading (an article purporting to be about women’s dress might make an impassioned plea for reforms in female education, for instance), our index tags content by genre, key stylistic features and prominent keywords (marriage, education, politics, for example) making it easy for readers to find items of particular interest.

We are mining the data we are collating and will be presenting our findings in the form of web, book, and journal articles on attributions, the career profiles of magazine contributors, and statistical and interpretive analyses of the shifting content of the magazine over the course of its long history.  Jennie is also in the process of writing a book about the magazine’s place in the Romantic literary marketplace.  By making the annotated index of contributor signatures and content analysis freely available online, we also hope to promote further research by scholars and other interested parties on the Lady’s Magazine, late-eighteenth-century periodicals, and authorship and print culture in the period more generally.

One of the greatest joys of the project has been disseminating and talking about our research in progress via our Twitter feed, Facebook page, and blog, all of which are regularly updated. Through social media, we have entered into conversations about the magazine, its diverse content, and the issues it debates and generates with modern-day readers all over the world.  Establishing a community of interested parties who felt they had a stake in the publication was vital to the success of the Lady’s Magazine, whose readers and subscribers were also its authors.  We like to think that, in a small way, the online community that has grown around the project captures and perpetuates something of the spirit of the magazine itself.

It has certainly been a genuine and generative collaboration that has advanced the project in ways that we could not have anticipated when we began.  For instance, Jennie’s happy acquisition of a copy of the periodical from one of our blog’s readers, which contained a number of rare surviving embroidery patterns, led to a flutter of Twitter excitement that snowballed into ‘The Great Lady’s Magazine Stitch Off,’ a non-competitive sewing bee in which dozens of people all over the world have recreated 10 Lady’s Magazine patterns for display at an exhibition at Chawton House Library to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen’s Emma (1816), a novel whose hero and a major plotline are taken from a short story in the Lady’s Magazine.

To find out more, do visit the project website and blog, or contact Jennie ([email protected])