There are currently 104 periodicals listed on this website. Following early feedback from our presentations to local and international groups to launch the site, the Project Team decided to be more inclusive with regards to the type of materials included in this online resource; similarly to the definitions (self and otherwise) of the groups themselves (see ‘Background‘ on our Resources page), the definition of what constituted a mutual improvement and literary society magazine was porous. For example, a not uncommon case would be where a church group would also be a young men’s mutual improvement society that later became a mixed-gender group, before changing its name to a literary society to reflect their enlarged membership and perhaps their changing remit.
The majority of the groups that produced these magazines were church and/or mutual improvement societies. The three most common types of contributions were non-fiction articles, essays and original poems. Original artwork in a variety of media was also featured in many of these magazines. Musical scores (typically for one or two voices and piano accompaniment) were less common.
With very few exceptions, only one issue was produced at a time, and could be a weekly (the least common), a monthly (the most common), or yearly magazine. The issue was circulated according to a readers’ or members’ list that was sometimes included in the front or back of the magazine. Next to the names could be the addresses along with a list of the dates received and/or dates passed on. The magazine rules (included in some issues) usually stipulate how many days each reader could keep the magazine before passing it on to the next reader/member on the list.
One particularly note-worthy feature–one may say the genre’s most distinctive feature–in some of these magazines were the ‘Criticisms’, or readers’ responses (or what is also known today as feedback). These comments were written into the pages of the magazine. Blank pages were sometimes left after each contribution or more commonly at the back of the issue for this purpose. This feature was a dynamic, interactive medium for the discussion of various aspects of the magazine itself, but could also be a site for the discussion of larger issues such as the purpose of reading and writing, the place of the novel and poetry in contemporary culture, and could extend to include broader, topical political and social issues.
Searching for materials
A brief description of each magazine is available on a separate web page devoted to it and is listed on this site according to its title.
You can further refine your search by entering a Keyword (e.g. Publication Title, Also known as, Place of Publication, or Publication date) and then clicking ‘Submit‘.
You can also choose to search by a Category (e.g. Publication Producer, and/or Contents and Contributions). Multiple boxes may be ticked to help customise your search. Once you have ticked the category/categories you wish to search under, click the ‘Submit‘ box at the bottom of the page.
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The Literary Bonds Project Team is always delighted to receive feedback, and any information about further sources would be very welcome! To inform us of other magazines in your area, please use the Contact form.