These questions were originally created for English 394: The Victorian Novel from Dickens to Hardy, at the University of British Columbia, Summer Session Two, 1989. They have been augmented with pertinent excerpts from Tillotson's seminal criticism of the early Victorian novel for English 3412 (Victorian Fiction), Lakehead University, January through May 2004. For additional questions click on the "Contexts" icon at the foot of the screen.

Introductory: The Illustrated Magazine and the Magazine Serial [Page 30]

Left: Phiz's June 1859 monthly wrapped for Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities. [Click on image to enlarge it.]

In the end one cheap form of publication devoured the other; the part-issue was driven off the market by its rival the magazine serial. When Macmillan's Magazine and the Cornhill, costing a shilling 1 instead of half-a-crown, were founded in 1859-60, the doom of the part-issue was in sight; for the reader could now get his instalment of a novel and much else besides at the same price. 2

Right: Helen Patterson Allingham's January 1874 opening vignette for Hardy's Far from the Madding Crowd in The Cornhill Magazine, Volume 29, page 1. [Click on image to enlarge it.]

The history of the magazine serial is a much longer one, extending through the eighteenth century to our own day and adorned by great names such as Meredith, Hardy, and Henry James. Reprinted fiction had appeared in eighteenth-century magazines; the first new novel to appear in that form was Smollett's Sir Lancelot Greaves in The British Magazine (1760-1). Later, in the eighteen-thirties, Marryat had several serials running; Oliver Twist ran through twenty-four numbers of Bentley's Miscellany; and by 1840 serials are usual in the half-crown monthlies; Fraser's, for example, had Thackeray's Catherine (1839-40) and The Luck of Barry Lyndon (1844). At first, they tend to be shorter works than the novels issued in parts . . . . [Tillotson, pp. 30-31]


1 An earlier venture in the field was Douglas Jerrold's Shilling Magazine (1845-8) with serials by Jerrold, R. H. Horne, and others, as well as articles, short stories, reviews, and poems. According to Jerrold's biographer [Blanchard Jerrold], The Life and Remains of Douglas Jerrold, 1859, ch. x) this was at first successful, but fell off later because Jerrold had so many other irons in the fire. But in any case it was probably too radical, and too 'low', to offer a serious challenge to the half-crown monthlies in that period.

2 See Trollope, Autobiography, ch. xv. Serials in the Cornhill included Framley Parsonage, Lovel the Widower, Philip, Romola, and Wives and Daughters; in Macmillan's, Hughes's Tom Brown at Oxford, and Kingsley's Water Babies.

Question Nine

What factors led to the eclipsing of part-publication by monthly and weekly magazines? What special problems did the magazine serial pose for authors and editors?


Tillotson, Kathleen. Novels of the Eighteen-Forties. Oxford: Clarendon, 1955, rpt. 1983.

Created 25 December 2004

Last modified 20 January 2024