Reviews

Laurel Brake and Marysa Demoor, eds. DNCJ: Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century Journalism in Great Britain and Ireland. Gent and London: Academia Press and the British Library, 2009. ISBN: 970 90 382 1340 8. Price: £65.00. Cambridge: ProQuest, 2009 ff (online)[Notice]

  • Georgina O’Brien Hill

…plus d’informations

  • Georgina O’Brien Hill
    University of Chester

There have been a number of publications attempting to guide the reader through the maze of nineteenth-century print media, of which the DNCJ: Dictionary of Nineteenth Century Journalism in Great Britain and Ireland is the latest. Such guides are needed: as an increasing number of periodicals become available through numerous projects of digitization, the problem facing students and scholars of Romantic and Victorian literature is often no longer one of access, but one of discrimination as we are overwhelmed by multiple sources of information. The editors of the DNCJ, Laurel Brake and Marysa Demoor, acknowledge that the Dictionary “takes its place beside distinguished predecessors and contemporaries” including the Waterloo Dictionary of English Newspapers and Periodicals 1800-1900, British Library Magazines, and the Wellesley Index of Victorian Periodicals (v). They also make special mention of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography as a crucial tool which helped them to compile the DNCJ. British Library Magazines and the Wellesley Index are, as the editors recognize, “more selective” than the Waterloo Dictionary and therefore are more limited in their scope (v). The DNCJ is designed to bridge the gap between British Library Magazines and the Wellesley in particular. However, any print dictionary must also engage with the ongoing expansion in electronic resources and the digitization of print material, and for those with access to subscribing libraries, the electronic edition of the DNCJ will prove extremely useful, for it will be constantly updated, revised and corrected. Scholars without access, however, will gain much from the print edition alone. This impressive tome (weighing in at over 1,000 pages and including 1,620 entries) is designed to be “large-scale,” reflecting the huge range of the periodical press in the nineteenth century, and including the subjects of “art, children, illustration, literature, religion, sports, politics, local and regions titles, satire, and trade journals,” as well as newspapers and periodicals across Great Britain and Ireland (back cover). But Brake and Demoor are clear that the purpose of the DNCJ is not to lead the reader through the mass of Victorian print media; the Dictionary is designed to be a “one-volume, rapid reference work,” a “snapshot” as they put it (v). Although this goal raises the question of balance--pitting breadth of coverage against depth of exploration--I believe that the editors have largely achieved this balance. About 37% of the Dictionary is dedicated to periodical and newspaper titles, but significant space is also given to individual journalists and editors (30%), with a small proportion (9%) given to publishers and proprietors, 7% to illustrators and 2% to printers, distributors and inventors. Thirteen percent of the Dictionary covers topics such as the “Popular Press,” “Weeklies,” the “Juvenile Press,” “Class and the Press,” “Mastheads,” “Local Press,” and “Court and Parliamentary Reporting” (v). A list of “Contributors and Acronyms” is also included and this list indicates much of the “authoritative new research” that the publishers (rightly) boast of (back cover). There is a “Chronology on the Nineteenth-century Press in Britain and Ireland” which extends for almost 200 pages. The editors state that only “Eighteenth-century newspapers that continued into the nineteenth century” are included and while this is appropriate within the remit of the Dictionary, some readers might find this limitation regrettable (ix). Brake and Demoor hope that the DNCJ will offer a “gateway to the period,” and they have certainly achieved this aim, for what is noticeable on first flicking through the Dictionary is its sheer scope (v). Specialist subjects, such as the “Nursing Press,” “Readers and Readership: Real or Historical Readers,” “New ...

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