Members of this literary society were part of the congregation of Bridge Street United Presbyterian Church, located in Musselburgh, East Lothian, to the east of Edinburgh. (For a brief history of the church, see the National Records of Scotland catalogue entry.)
There are three extant volumes of the manuscript magazine that this society produced. The ‘Index’ at the start of the 1890-1891 volume lists the contributions by the date of the meeting at which they were read aloud. This tells us that the society held regular ‘Magazine Nights’ during their yearly sessions. Thus, almost all of the contributions included in the magazine were intended to be heard first and then read later.
‘Magazine Evenings’ or ‘Magazine Nights’ were meetings that were devoted to the reading of original essays (or occasionally poems) written by group members that were submitted to the Magazine Editor beforehand. The Editor would be responsible for collecting, occasionally selecting, and reading the pieces aloud to the group (more rarely this was done by the contributor him/herself) on the appointed night. This would be followed by ‘criticism’ — or discussion on the piece’s positive and negative points — by the group members.
After the meetings, these contributions were sometimes bound and saved in the society’s library (if they had one) or would be kept by one of the office bearers. In these cases, it was intended that the magazine was to be preserved and that group members would have access to it at a later date. It is of note that literary and mutual improvement groups used the term ‘magazine’ to refer to the oral as well as the material medium.
The 1890-1892 volume is a ‘typical’ issue containing a mixture of prose non-fiction articles and essays, original poems, along with a few letters to the Editor. There is no artwork in any of the issues. Interestingly, readers’ criticisms — the comments written into the magazine by readers on the various aspects of the contributions and/or the magazine itself — are not included in this magazine, but a regular feature entitled ‘Appendix’ (later called ‘Editor’s Remarks’) written by the Editor works in a similar manner. This reports on the society’s magazine nights and provides us with some indication of the reception of each piece that was read aloud. In addition, it discusses the ‘Appendix of Criticism’ that was also read aloud at the meetings, which did include comments about the previous issue of the magazine.
Name of Club, Society or Group That Produced the Magazine
Bridge Street United Presbyterian Literary Society (Edinburgh)
Date of Existence
Date of Magazine
Vol. II, 1890-1891; Vol. IV, 1892-1893; 1899-1901
Number of Issues
Contents and Contributions
Articles (non-fiction); Editorials; Essays; Indexes; Letters to Editor; Poems (original); Reports; Table of Contents; Title page
National Records of Scotland