The only information we currently have on the Crescent Literary and Debating Society comes from the magazine it produced. Members were most likely part of the congregation of the Crescent Congregational Church, which was located on Everton Brow in Liverpool. (Along with this society’s magazine, the records for this church are also housed at Lancashire Archives. Please refer to their catalogue for further details.)
From the magazine, we know that the society met in the Assembly Rooms, which were located at the back of the chapel. How frequently they met is currently unknown. This may have been a relatively small group: instead of a list of readers and/or members at the front, there is a list of 12 contributors, two of which were unmarried women.
The magazine has 14 contributions including the ‘Editorial’ and is 64 pages in total. Like other society magazines, it is a miscellany containing a mixture of non-fiction essays and fictional stories. In terms of subject matter, it may be that the Editress assigned each contributor a subject, as is suggested in the ‘Editorial’ (p. 1). There are no original poems in this issue, but, interestingly, at the close of several articles are quotes from a variety of published authors including Ellen Hooper, Henry Ward Beecher, François de La Rochefoucauld, Samuel Johnson and Cicero, to name a few.
The magazine was originally produced in manuscript and was read aloud at a society meeting at what was generally called a ‘Magazine Night’. ‘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.
Name of Club, Society or Group That Produced the Magazine
Crescent Chapel Literary and Debating Society (Walton, Liverpool)
Date of Existence
Date of Magazine
Number of Issues
Typescript (previously in manuscript)
Contents and Contributions
Annotations; Articles (non-fiction); Caricatures; Essays; Fiction/Narratives; Letter to Editor; Poem (republished material); Republished materials; Table of Contents; Title page
Lancashire Archives (Preston)