Corps de l’article

The increasing popularity of periodicals during the xixth century coincides with a media transfer between books and periodicals. This interaction was often linked to a contestation of books and periodicals’ status and reputation. The serial periodical text in its connection to book publications offers a specific point of entry to this area of intersection for the periodical student and book historian.[2] Researchers have argued, for instance, that the Victorian novel should be analysed within its original context of publication, i.e. its interrupted, continued presentation within the mixed content of the periodical; and this certainly also holds true for other content such as historical narratives.[3] Others have pointed out that serialized texts in periodicals were often already produced with the later book publication in mind.[4] Analysing these texts’ histories in their original presentation as well as their reissue within another media format by taking into consideration both the serial periodical text and the text in its corresponding book form enables us to compare the specifics of these media, and thus allows for insights into publication agendas, intended readerships, as well as broader considerations of the Victorian print market.[5]

This article explores the media transfer between books and periodicals by example of historical narratives serialized within the Leisure Hour: A Family Journal of Instruction and Recreation (1852-1905) under the regulation of the Religious Tract Society (RTS).[6] Victorian print culture formed an important outlet for history as “the arena in which the past and future identity of the community is debated”[7] at the time of a thriving historical culture, which increasingly negotiated the boundaries between academic and popular approaches to national history. This can also be observed when representations of the past were adapted to different media formats: many magazine articles on history were collected in book volumes, which, as Beetham notes, “signal[[s] the rescue of the text” into a “physically more stable” format as well as into “recognized genre[s]”,[8] and books on the past were popularized in periodicals – a publication format disdained by historians for its “popular and sketchy articles”.[9] The article looks at serials dealing with the past printed in the Leisure Hour which were turned into books or, vice versa, books on the past which informed serials in this evangelical periodical. Each issue of the popular family magazine[10] offered a mixture of genres and topics – among them many articles and serials on the past – in order to attract a broad audience with various interests. Book publications of these serials, by contrast, consisted of a unified text addressed to readers with a specific interest in history. The article approaches this aspect of Victorian print culture from a historical culture perspective as it considers forms and functions of history within Victorian society by looking at the production, distribution and reception of historical knowledge and at the agents involved in this process.[11] The analysis of the textual histories of non-fictional historical narratives serialized in the Leisure Hour thus indicates that the embedding within a different medium and its materiality often goes hand in hand with a change of the text and its negotiation of a (national) historical identity, and that the past may be designed differently according to medium and intended audience. In the case of the Leisure Hour, a look at the travelling of texts and ideas between the two media shows that the RTS not only negotiated media boundaries: the changed reissue of the texts in other formats indicates that the Society at the same time operated at the intersection of other categories, such as class and gender, linked to the reputation of the different media as well as modes of representation and approaches to history, as the increasing professionalization of history at mid-century meant a contestation of popular (often fictional or fictionalized) formats.[12] Reissuing texts in another format was, of course, an efficient way to produce new publications. However, the transition to another medium did not simply lead to a presentation of the same historical knowledge to possibly new readerships through a shortening/lengthening of the text or loss/addition of peritexts due to the medium’s specific materiality. The comparison, for instance, might also indicate semantic changes to appropriate different readerships through the adoption of a specific historical perspective for distinct publication formats as well as a reproduction of material features from book to periodical to accommodate a broad, cross-class readership. After a brief introduction of the RTS’s agenda and historical programme for the Leisure Hour, I will explicate this in three examples of interferences between the Leisure Hour and book publications in their appropriations of the past. These examples further serve to demonstrate how the analysis of the periodical texts, the periodical’s agenda and intended readership, its authorship and its publication format may benefit from a comparison to their book counterparts.[13]

In July 1851, the RTS decided to “issue a popular weekly magazine” which was “to be specially adapted for the working classes”.[14] The aim of the RTS was to counter popular secular periodicals of a “pernicious tendency”[15] with a magazine of similar entertaining and instructive content, yet written in a Christian spirit. With the introduction of the Leisure Hour in 1852, however, the RTS not only tried to battle other secular magazines on the periodical market for a working-class audience, it also had to justify the publication within a contested print genre to its own religious supporters. This is obvious from the way in which the RTS announced the Leisure Hour through a three-page article in defence of “Periodical Literature” printed in its membership periodical Christian Spectator:

It is undoubtedly our duty, in employing the press in the service of religion, to adopt such a course as may best suit the circumstances of the times. If the periodical obtains acceptance in a vast number of instances where the treatise or the volume cannot find admittance, it is our policy to use this means, and sanctify it to the promotion of truth and piety. [...] In this way the good which the press is capable of yielding will be employed to neutralize the evil which, in vicious hands, it is made to inflict.[16]

The Society here identified the cheap popular weekly as a contested genre in opposition to “volume”, i.e. book publications; because of the “pernicious tendency” of some secular periodicals it appears that the genre itself was disdained. Nevertheless, the Society argued for the use of just this means to reach new audiences which its book publications – and tracts – apparently failed to attract. This is even more explicitly expressed in another Christian Spectator article published on the initiation of the Leisure Hour:

The weekly journal is adapted to answer ends which are not attained by books. Materials elsewhere provided are, by this agency, presented in such quantities, and with such a regard to adaptation and variety, that the short and broken intervals of daily toil may be turned to profit; and the humblest artisan, though denied access to larger stores of knowledge, may treasure up during his leisure hours abundant facilities of usefulness and pleasure.[17]

The RTS here already seems to imply a transfer from “books” as “[m]aterials elsewhere provided” into “the weekly journal” via “adaptation”, and simultaneously points towards the two media’s differences in their print as well as textual genres connected to modes of consumption: the short articles or serial parts of the periodical may be read during breaks in the work day, the periodical is – also through this reduction in “quantity” – available and accessible even to “the humblest artisan”.

The rhetoric implemented by the RTS to justify the use of the periodical form instead of book publication and hence the revaluation of the periodical print genre in comparison to the volume form shows that the RTS operated at the intersection of its new intended working-class readership and its evangelical middle-class members with the introduction of the Leisure Hour. “What the RTS committee had to work out,” Fyfe notes, “was how to balance their religious ideals with the commercial need to appeal to their audience”.[18] One measure the RTS took to further negotiate the boundary between its intended working-class audience and its members was, I would argue, its extensive use of historical descriptions and narratives within the Leisure Hour. The Leisure Hour did feature fiction, thus reacting to the demands of the time.[19] For ideological reasons, however, the Society was generally interested in the presentations of truthful stories, “believing”, as Aileen Fyfe has pointed out, “that [the] power to convert readers would be undermined if the narratives were fictional.”[20] The inclusion of a large portion of historical narratives within the pages of the Leisure Hour could both compensate for the readers’ increasing demand for fiction and placate RTS supporters, as historical narratives could similarly be entertaining and even sensational, while at the same time being based on facts and fulfilling an educating function.

Many of these historical narratives came in serial form – just like the serialized “frivolous and perhaps scurrilous fiction” [21] so important for the success of the popular periodical press at mid-century.[22] In the Leisure Hour’s initial period from 1852 to 1870, we find about 60 non-fictional serials dealing with the past.[23] While it is fairly easy to find serials within the pages of the Leisure Hour, the periodical’s practice of author anonymity[24] makes it difficult to identify book counterparts to the same if titles deviate. The Leisure Hour’s 50-year Jubilee Number provides entries on 111 of its authors,[25] which enables attribution of authorship to some extent; further, payment listings in the RTS Copyright Committee minutes may also be of help (though they mainly note authors’ surnames for the Leisure Hour but fail to provide article titles or issue numbers/dates). As Patrick Leary has shown in his essay “Googling the Victorians”, the increasing digitization of the Victorian archives and libraries also offers a great resource to establish links between texts.[26] Thus, searching for historical actors, events or places portrayed in a Leisure Hour serial, or typing in short text passages, references to secondary sources or quotations used in a serial often succeeds in finding a corresponding text.[27] Through a combination of these search and validation options I have been able to identify authorship for 31 of the non-fiction serials, at least 19 of which have a book counterpart (12 serials precede, 7 follow the book publication).[28] Three of these will be examined as examples for different types of the travelling of texts between the two media: first, the transition from book (Merryweather’s Glimmerings in the Dark) into periodical serial (“The Working Man in the Olden Time”) and its appropriation to the periodical’s agenda of reaching out to an intended working-class audience; second, the collection of a periodical serial (“Shades of the Departed”) into book form (Stoughton’s Shades and Echoes of Old London) and the RTS’s development of a book series out of papers from its periodicals as well as authors’ boundary-work and production under the regulation of the RTS; and finally, the creation of a monthly part (“Windsor Castle”) through the transfer from a book (Stoughton’s Windsor in the Olden Time) as well as the transfer, replication and complication of the media’s material unit, print as well as textual genres. As these examples show, the texts during this process undergo changes, for instance, in historical perspective or historical genre in order to attract either a different readership or accommodate a diverse audience, be it for ideological or commercial reasons.

In order to conform to the Leisure Hour’s agenda, the RTS appears to have selected books for serialization that could easily be amended to fit the periodical’s historical programme and intended readership. The seven historical serials which are preceded by a book publication tend to feature strong textual changes as well as a loss of the books’ peritexts.[29] In all instances, there is a significant reduction in the volume of text, reproducing only select chapters or passages which may sometimes be amended in such a way that the book can rather be said only to inform the periodical serial. This can, for instance, be seen in Frederick Somner Merryweather’s[30] adaptation of his Glimmerings in the Dark; Or Lights and Shadows of the Olden Time (1850) as the six-part serial “The Working Man in the Olden Time” (1 January 1852 – 11 November 1852).[31] Merryweather’s book, which had been published by the bestselling publishing house Simpkin, Marshall, & Co. two years prior to the Leisure Hour’s commencement, had been laudably reviewed in The Athenaeum, The Critic and the Eclectic Review – and less laudably in the Dublin Review for its anti-catholic sentiment.[32] It can hence be assumed that the work was well known within educated evangelical circles and was selected for its close fit to the RTS’s agenda for its new periodical. Merryweather’s serial commenced in the Leisure Hour’s first issue in second place, yet even before the mandatory readers’ address introducing the new periodical. Overall, the Leisure Hour, especially during its initial years, appears focused on attracting a working-class readership also through the way it (re)appropriated the past, and the early presentation of Merryweather’s “Working Man in the Olden Time” clearly sets the tone for this agenda.

The transformation from book into periodical serial went hand-in-hand with substantial changes to text and peritext in order to adopt an explicitly working-class perspective in the serial’s construction of national historical identity. Merryweather’s Glimmerings sets out with a preface, in which he directly addresses the audience he has in mind broadly as “the reading class” who wants “to become familiar with former times—to catch a glimpse through the mist and gloom of history, of what our fathers did before us”.[33] In the Leisure Hour, the purpose of the book’s preface can be paralleled, on the one hand, to the editor’s address outlining the periodical’s overall agenda and historical programme in the article succeeding the serial’s first part.[34] Hence, “The Working Man in the Olden Time” both prefigures and exemplifies the Leisure Hour’s historical agenda presented in “A Word with Our Reader”: “Dismissing the idea that the key of knowledge is the exclusive possession of the sons of genius or wealth, we shall bid the working man accompany us in our visits to the hoary relics of other times.”[35] This text external to the serial itself must be seen in connection to it, as similarly to the preface of Merryweather’s book, which introduces his approach to history, the Leisure Hour’s editorial defines the use of history in the serial. On the other hand, Merryweather’s preface may find resemblance in the introductory paragraph of the serial’s first part, which more precisely outlines the serial’s conduct: “We purpose, then, in a few short papers, to depict […] the social and moral condition of the working man in the Dark Ages; to peep at him at home; to watch him at his work; and to enter into a contemplation of some of the trials and difficulties with which he was surrounded”.[36] Thus, while the book is more open in considering its intended audience, the Leisure Hour serial in its introductory part and the editorial external to the serial clearly focus on a representation of working men.

This is also indicated by the deviating titles of serial and book or serial parts and book chapters. Thus the Leisure Hour, via the title “The Working Man in the Olden Time”, already introduces a focus on a historiography of “working men”, a focus which is repeated for each part of the serial in addition with subtitles such as “His Social Condition”, “His Morals, and Religious Knowledge”. The titles and subtitles also deviate from the chapter titles of Merryweather’s book: The serial part “His Social Condition”, for instance, is based on the book’s chapter “Slavery in England”, while “His Morals, and Religious Knowledge” follows the argument of “The Bible; its Dangers and Triumphs in an Age of Gloom”.

As the comparison of article titles and book chapters already indicates – as well as the reduction in volume from the book’s more than 300 pages divided into 18 chapters to a six-part serial amounting to a total of about 17 pages – we may not speak of the ‘same’ text. Rather, the serial selects passages from the book which could easily be amended for a working-class perspective and some new parts are introduced which draw on information provided in the book. These passages are selected, rewritten or introduced as they specifically conform to the RTS’s agenda with topics such as intemperance, education, Sabbath obedience, Bible reading, or anti-Catholicism. The periodical serial generally follows the book’s argument and style, i.e. both seem interested in constructing an image of historical objectivity by making vast use of source material documented in footnotes, and in both texts the we-narrator[37] does not directly identify as being part of any of the groups portrayed. However, the narrator’s strong value judgements concerning, for instance, anti-Catholicism, are restructured in the Leisure Hour to present not a general “English people” but specifically the “working men” as suppressed by both nobility and Roman church, while he portrays Christianity as the working men’s saviour.

When comparing paragraphs and terminology in book and periodical, it is obvious that what is referred to in the book as “the English people”, in the magazine version is frequently paralleled to or substituted by “working men” or “working classes” – terms which never appear in the book version at all. By using the term “working men” in this context, the serial applies a contemporary concept to the past, as it seems to identify both the struggle between Saxons, Angles, and Danes and the Norman Yoke as the origin of a class struggle and creates a history of progress from the Middle Ages up to the present.[38] The topic of the oppression and exploitation of the English people – which in the serial become the “working men” – by the Church during the Middle Ages is thus well chosen to implement a “Christian tone” so important for the RTS’s purpose.[39] The articles, on the one hand, point out the benefits found in Christianity, while at the same time contemporary issues of Anti-Catholicism are debated on the platform of the past. Thus the serial in its commencing article states that

Christianity has always been the friend of the oppressed, and in proportion as her presence has been honoured, so has a nation grown in liberty. Through her influence in the dark ages many a working man, born in servitude, received his freedom, had his children restored, and his home made happy.[40]

This positive attitude towards Christianity is apparently contradicted two pages earlier when the narrator accuses “monkish chroniclers” of “recording [only] the exploits of kings, the triumphs of chivalry, and the quarrels of churchman” while

they have thought it beneath the dignity of their calling to describe the social and moral condition of the English people. We read of kings and barons, of knights of the tilt-yard, and of mailed crusaders; we read of monks and nuns, their miracles and works; but find no honourable mention of the working man.[41]

The periodical serial thus overall stresses the importance of working men for society and Christianity’s involvement in bettering their situation over the course of history. This appears to have been precisely the editors’ aim – the equivalent passage in Merryweather’s book, for instance, does not feature a reference to the “working men”, who in the periodical, however, are clearly equivalent to the “English people”.[42] Thus, while the book follows contemporary practice of writing a history of “the common man”, the Leisure Hour amends the text to fit into the magazine’s agenda of reaching out to and teaching the working classes by inscribing them into the national historical identity as the “common man”.

The collection of periodical text into book format – which occurs in 12 out of the 19 non-fictional serials – appears, by contrast, to have been a pretty straightforward process, mostly showing little changes in the serials’ original text,[43] while – reciprocal to what has been observed of the transformation from book into periodical – adding peritextual features characteristic for book publications such as table of contents and indices, lists of illustrations,[44] dedications, prefaces, or introductions. Significantly, the transfer from periodical to book in most instances, of course, reattributes authorship in contrast to the periodical’s anonymous presentation of articles, i.e. the transfer signifies a shift from the periodicals’ title-function to the books’ author-function.[45] The practice of anonymous publication in periodicals thus helped contributors to blur their authorship and demarcate popular writings from more academic output.[46]

This can be seen, for instance, in John Stoughton’s work for the Leisure Hour.[47] Stoughton was a Congregational, nonconformist minister with a strong interest in historical issues, to which he tended by holding lectures, writing periodical articles and books. From 1872 he held a chair as professor for Historical Theology at New College for twelve years. With his profession as a minister and his interest in history, Stoughton perfectly fitted the RTS’s agenda of combining instruction and entertainment in a Christian spirit, and he contributed historical and descriptive articles and serials to the Leisure Hour from its first issue up until the late 1880s.

Stoughton’s serial “Shades of the Departed in Old London” (11 parts, 8 January 1852 – 12 May 1853), though printed anonymously in the Leisure Hour,[48] was later collected into book form as Shades and Echoes of Old London (1864) published by the RTS under Stoughton’s name. The republication of articles in book form would have meant an easy and economically advantageous enterprise for the Society[49] – and also for the author himself. Thus, Stoughton had proposed a republication of “Shades” in book form already in 1859,[50] and as Stoughton’s daughter points out, the popular articles and books he wrote paid for his travels abroad.[51] It therefore seems that Stoughton was interested to earn some extra money through the book and the RTS wanted to build on the success of the serial.

The rescue of “Shades of the Departed in Old London” into book form indicates that the RTS must have considered the serial a success, as they published it together with Stoughton’s serial “Echoes of Westminster Hall” (8 parts, 17 April 1856 – 19 June 1856) as Shades and Echoes of Old London under the imprint of “The Leisure Hour Office” in 1864, and republished the book again in 1889. In “Shades of the Departed in Old London”, Stoughton established what would become his common pattern of narrating history in the Leisure Hour: It uses descriptions of present-day objects like buildings and landscapes as a starting point to connect to past events and historical actors. Each part of “Shades of the Departed” was dedicated to the biography of one or two persons which would have been well known to a Victorian audience. The serial overall follows a chronological set-up and roughly covers the xviith and xviiith centuries. It can be split up into three sections presenting different types of actors: Dissenters involved in religious struggles, writers and artists, and political and social reformers. Thus, the first four parts on Baxter, Milton, Walton, Marvell and Russell are concerned with and linked through their preoccupation with a time of religious unrest, and the selected persons are presented as role models for integrity, religious faith and strife for the acceptance of Dissenters. These parts on the xviith century reach from the Civil War and the Restoration to the Glorious Revolution with a clear focus on a religious development towards tolerance of nonconformity. During the xviiith century, the serial’s focus shifts from actors directly involved in religious struggles to a narration of the cultural achievements of Enlightenment writers, artists and scientists such as Addison, Newton, Goldsmith, Reynolds and Johnson. Although they are portrayed with their literary and artistic output in mind, their lives are always evaluated under the aspect of their religious involvement and beliefs. With the final two parts, the serial returns to more political issues by evaluating Howard’s and Burke’s beneficial influences as a prison reformer and a statesman, political orator, and author respectively under the idea of Christian duty. It is striking, however, that no political figures such as Cromwell, Charles II, James II, William III, George I, or the first two female monarchs Mary and Anne are chosen as protagonists. Though these are, of course, mentioned within the biographies, the selection of figures made by Stoughton and the focus on them in the respective biographies enabled him to write a history of religious controversy on Unitarianism from a protestant, nonconformist perspective, and he thereby appropriates the past to address his contemporary interests in nonconformity. While the articles themselves appear mainly unchanged in the book publication, the “Introduction” to “Shades of the Departed” is elongated and hence gives more information on the use of the papers than the original publication in the Leisure Hour did. The book’s introduction reproduces the first two paragraphs of the serial, but then adds another eight pages on the history of London mixed with meta-historical references; the preface thereby adds a more academic character to the book, as it can be considered as a stand-alone essay on the use of history. It clearly outlines the didactic quality of history when it states that

Buildings, dingy and dilapidated, or tastelessly modernized, in which great geniuses were born, or lived, or died, are, in connexion with such events, transformed into poetic bowers […]. Tales of valour and suffering, of heroism and patience, of virtue and piety, of the patriot’s life and the martyr’s death, crowd thickly on the memory. Nor do opposite reminiscences [...] of vice and crime, of evil passions and false principles, fail to arise, fraught with salutary warnings and cautions.[52]

Besides a few changes in the chronology of chapters, two more entries are included in the book under the category of the “Shades”, namely a chapter on “Margaret Godolphin” and a chapter on Isaac Watts. The chapter on “Margaret Godolphin” was originally printed in the Leisure Hour under the title “A Star at the Stuart Court”[53] between the “Shades” papers on Milton and Walton – also prominently with a cover illustration, yet as a stand-alone biography and not as part of the serial. As the book publication re-attributes the authorship of the Godolphin-article to Stoughton, the neglect to include it within the original “Shades” serial suggests that the RTS did not want to break with the serial’s presentation of male role models in the periodical – though it did not bother about this in the book. The Watts biography was originally printed in 1859 within the more obviously Christian Sunday at Home (a source not credited in the volume publication) as three parts of the serial “Memorial Chapters”.[54] While both of these additional chapters are biographical sketches, they do not use the city-walk pattern of the other “Shades” articles and were not amended to conform to this pattern for the volume publication; furthermore, the article on Watts features a tone different from the Leisure Hour articles, which is also due to the chosen topic of the chaplain, preacher, and writer Isaac Watts. The inclusion of these articles ‘foreign’ to the “Shades” serial, and the combination of two serials suggests that Stoughton and the RTS used the book publication as an easy means to gain further profit from their earlier work without having to invest too much additional time. Since the marketing of the Shilling Books for Leisure Hours Series promised a length of 288 pages, the two chapters were probably simply included to make up the mandatory space, and the book itself hints at a neglect of editing with a note that “These Papers are reprinted from the ‘Leisure Hour’ of 1852 […], which will account for several references not applicable at the present time”.[55]

The Shilling Books for Leisure Hours Series arose from RTS members’ suggestions to turn articles from the Leisure Hour and the Sunday at Home into books for railway reading.[56] The book series was finally advertised as offering “interesting reading, especially for the young” with “the higher purpose of” presenting “lessons of Christian faith and duty”.[57] While the text as presented in the Leisure Hour – directed at a family readership – does not appear to be intended for an exclusively young readership, book reviews allow for a further determination of reception and readership, as they assess the book as especially suitable for Sunday schools and children or adolescents.[58] The adoption of “Shades of the Departed” for the Shilling Books for Leisure Hours Series therefore suggests that in the Leisure Hour it served its purpose not only to cater to a broad family readership, but to entertain while instructing with a Christian tone, thereby thwarting secular papers presenting sensational fiction.

While most reviews – from Christian and educational periodicals – favourably reviewed the book for a popular audience, John Doran in the Athenaeum complained about the “careless editing and strange blundering” of the book, as well as Stoughton’s neglect to provide sources for some quotations.[59] The Athenaeum here indicates a carelessness of Stoughton towards popular publications. Fyfe observes in her study on the RTS’s Monthly Volumes:

Popular works, such as the Monthly Volumes and their equivalents, were at least more likely to make money, since they were by definition expected to reach a wide audience. However, the routine omission of these works from the published memoirs of ordained writers, including Stoughton, [...] suggests that they did less for reputation than tracts and sermons. Ministers sought reputations not merely as writers but as theological scholars. A successful Monthly Volume might commend its writer to a publisher seeking a “popular” volume, but it was not equal commendation to the learned.[60]

This also holds true for Stoughton’s periodical articles, which must have reached a larger public than his books: In his memoir, he did not reference his periodical output,[61] but rather gave credit to his more established book publications, such as his five-volume Ecclesiastical History of England. Following common conduct for periodicals, most serials by Stoughton were printed anonymously in the Leisure Hour, thereby helping him to establish a boundary towards his most popular writings, which suggests that the latter was a necessary and welcome activity for financial ends.

However, the republication of the serial in book form reattributed Stoughton’s authorship to a popular work. But the book publication within a series under the Leisure Hour Office imprint – thus marketing and emphasizing its relation to the periodical – makes it clear that book publications must also be seen as collaborative enterprises. While Merryweather under the regulation of the RTS made significant changes to his text for the publication in the Leisure Hour, Stoughton may not have been ordered to do so for the publication in book form, as both periodical and book were edited by the RTS with a similar agenda in mind. In other instances, however, where serials from the Leisure Hour were proposed to be published in book form, the RTS explicitly regulated that authors rewrite texts to conform to the principle of a Christian tone.[62] While the mixed content of the periodical could in the same issue present Christian content balancing out more secular writings, book publications, as Fyfe explains, needed to clearly present evangelical values:

Since its foundation the RTS had insisted that every publication must contain a statement of the route to salvation through faith in the atonement. This had been true of the Visitor [a forerunner to the Leisure Hour] and of the Monthly Volumes. It was not true of the Leisure Hour, if a weekly issue is taken as the unit of publication.[63]

Fyfe also already points towards the different units of publication for the Leisure Hour. While in the previous two examples the focus was mainly on semantic changes to reappropriate the past for different readerships, a consideration of media transfer must also take into account a negotiation of different media characteristics and boundaries concerning the material unit in connection to the use of print as well as textual genres. Periodical critics often question what is to be regarded as ‘the text’ or unit of text when looking at periodicals – the single issue, the monthly part, the annual volume and so forth.[64] In contrast to the book, the periodical text was offered in different material units connected to the time of publication (weekly, monthly, annually). With the Leisure Hour, it is interesting to consider what the Society itself saw as the unit of text. The Leisure Hour was available in weekly numbers – attractive for readers with a small budget – but it could also be bought in monthly parts, making it, as the RTS in the Christian Spectator carefully pointed out, “in every respect [...] a MONTHLY MAGAZINE”.[65] The Leisure Hour thereby oscillated between less reputable weeklies and more up-market periodicals published in monthly form, and the Society appears to have made use of this double character of the periodical’s material unit to reassure its middle-class members.[66] As Fyfe notes, “substantial sales were made of the 5d. monthly parts, presumably to ‘the middling ranks’”.[67] This intersection of publishing unit, price and (actual or intended) readership – which not only applies to the distinction between weekly issue and monthly part but also to that between periodical and book – plays an important signifier for the media’s divergent reputation. Hughes and Lund, for instance, observe that “anything that appeared in installments was fragmentary, inferior to a work that was confined within certain boundaries or was whole and complete”.[68] It seems therefore indicative that the reputation attributed to the media is linked to their financial value and, hence, to their availability to and consumption by specific market audiences. In return, this appears to have led to a devaluation of content. While, as Fyfe pointed out, the weekly issue may not include references to Salvation, the monthly parts – which presumably were mainly consumed by the evangelical middle-class fraction of buyers – certainly did.

The material unit of the monthly part was often further supported by the content constrained within the borders of a monthly wrapper: thus, “special issues” were created for instance through the presentation of a serial within the monthly part, which helped create a thematic as well as material unit similar to a book.[69] This similarity to books’ thematic as well as material unity was further underlined by the advertisements of such monthly parts, thereby addressing a specialist audience beyond the usual subscribers.[70]

When we look at the “Windsor Castle” part for June 1859, the comparison with the book counterpart – or counterparts – shows a shift not only of material but also of textual genre. A footnote in the first article states that “[i]n this and the following papers we have made considerable use of the recently published “Annals of Windsor,” by [...] Tighe and [...] David, but still more of “Windsor in the Olden Time,” by the Rev[everend] J[ohn] Stoughton”.[71] The article thereby references sources which are of a historical – though rather antiquarian than academic – interest. The last article, “A Summer’s Day at Windsor”, by contrast, which gives specific instructions and travel recommendations on how to conduct a visit to Windsor from London, also references “Brown’s useful “Windsor Guide,” thereby pertaining rather to the genre of tourist guide books. While Stoughton’s book was unillustrated, the vast inclusion of illustrations and also of a bird’s-eye view of Windsor further resulted in a transition of the textual genre from historiography to travel guide for historical sightseeing. Through this shift in textual as well as material genre, the periodical introduced a new means of usage: instead of being read only as an armchair travel, the text provided explicit travel information, and thereby reached in a way beyond the text to the physical world – enabling readers to take along the monthly part and experience history in situ.

On the other hand, however, the thematic and material unit of the monthly part was, of course, complicated by the original set-up of the Leisure Hour into five weekly numbers as well as the intermingling of other articles with the Windsor part. And it was also complicated by other serials presented at the same time which, however, exceeded the boundaries of the monthly part towards the annual volume or beyond. The “Windsor Castle” series presented in June 1859, for instance, intersects with four other serials.[72] Readers who bought the monthly part because of its advertised “Windsor Castle” content hence inevitably came across fragments of other serials that might lead them to continue buying the next number or fill in on previous numbers. This means, however, that instead of the unified book text, which addresses readers solely interested in Windsor, periodical readers are presented with a fragmented variety of articles and serials, which may have informed and complicated readers’ understanding of the past presented in the “Windsor Castle” series. Hughes and Lund observe that serialization is intrinsic to an understanding of Victorian historical consciousness:

Focusing more specifically on historical literature published in installments, we can state that to understand history in the Victorian era meant to find oneself on a line running from the past through the present to the future; this sense of the linearity of time and its forward-moving nature was embodied in the serial form, in which readers repeatedly found themselves in the middle of a story whose past was earlier installments and whose future was “to be continued”.[73]

This idea can be supported as long as we focus specifically on a serialization of historical literature – and as a focus on almost any one serial on the past (mostly structured chronologically) in the Leisure Hour would allow for this observation. The juxtaposition with other articles and serials presented at the same time, however, – be it presentations of other historical epochs, contemporary fiction or observations on present-day life – may not only reconcile readers to such a view of historical progression but also lead to a more complicated, fragmented outlook on the past and its link to the readers’ lifeworld. Thus, as Claes points out, “Successive articles (not just within one issue, but also throughout the run of the periodical) can transtextually influence each other’s signification, making it more problematic for periodicals than for books to achieve some form of textual ‘closure’”,[74] a defiance of closure not only in terms of the thematic but also the material unit.

This defiance of closure intrinsic to the periodical form is also still obtained in the annual volumes of the Leisure Hour – despite their similarity in physical appearance to the more reputable book format which defies the periodical’s ephemeral quality through the implication that the annual volumes are to be collected and kept like books. Readers returning to the “Shades of the Departed” serial in the volume publication would still be ‘distracted’ by other content provided between parts, and they would have to obtain the second volume as well, as the serial crosses the annual boundary. In the volume’s two-paged alphabetical though uncategorized index, readers would be able to locate the parts of “The Working Man in the Olden Time”; in contrast to the detailed nine-paged table of contents presenting chapter outlines in Merryweather’s Glimmerings, however, they would here only see the subtitles. Nor would readers be able to look for specific historical actors, events or places treated in the “Windsor Part” as possible in the nine-paged index to the revised edition of Stoughton’s Windsor: A History and Description of the Castle and the Town (London: Ward and Co. 1862).

The attempt to impose thematic and material unity characteristic of the more reputable book format upon the juxtaposition of content intrinsic to popular periodicals shows yet again that the Society in its appropriations of the past negotiated media boundaries to cater to its intended audience while also complying with its members’ attitudes towards the popular press. With the serialization of the past in and out of the Leisure Hour, therefore, the RTS not only operated between different media but had to negotiate boundaries on a variety of levels. For the periodical student, the comparison of serials and their book counterparts opens up a variety of possibilities to analyse the periodical’s enterprise. The serialization of the past in and out of the Leisure Hour indicates that the transfer of texts into another format offered the time- and money-saving opportunity to reach a new audience by building on earlier success. Semantic changes to choice selections from the source text could be used to inscribe a different – working-class – historical identity into the target text in order to conform to the RTS’s periodical agenda. And shifts in textual as well as material genre could serve to reappropriate the past for different readerships by also challenging the medium’s reputation. Thus, instead of turning to book reviews, texts and authors as easy additional sources of information on the periodical, both media must be assessed and compared with regard to their specific content, context, and materiality.