1. The phrase comes from Leslie Stephen, whose reliance on the antiquarians for assistance with the Dictionary of National Bibliography caused him some exasperation. This letter is quoted in Gillian Fenwick's pioneering 1993 bibliography, Leslie Stephen's Life in Letters (243); Stephen refers to them as "antiquaries," though the term "antiquarians" appears to have been in almost equally common use. (return to text)

2.Margaret Steig appears to have been the first to apply this phrase to the Victorians, in her influential 1980 Library History article, "The Nineteenth- Century Information Revolution." Although Steig focuses on government involvement in the collection and dissemination of information in the form of blue books, the census, and other reports, the phrase is used here in the wider sense suggested by her article's concluding remarks. (return to text)

3. Bell's commission was the standard ten percent, deducted from sales. Interestingly, Bell specifically noted that he did not anticipate the necessity of opening accounts with country newsagents, though the popularity of the journal would soon make this necessary. I am indebted to Dr. Michael Bott, archivist at the University of Reading, for locating the original letter from Bell to Thoms embodying this agreement, in the Bell archives at Reading. (return to text)

4. As in today's on-line communities, readers and occasional contributors must certainly have far outnumbered the most active participants. One such "lurker" was Charles Dickens, who informed Thoms that he was a "diligent reader" of the periodical (N&Q, June 1978, 206), while among the many occasional contributors were Dante Gabriel Rosetti, Douglas Jerrold, and Punch mainstay Shirley Brooks. Brooks would later deliver an amusing speech at the farewell dinner given to honour Thoms on his retirement from the editorship in 1872. (return to text)

5. When in 1852 booksellers John W. Parker and John Chapman sought the support of prominent literary men against rival publishers' attempts to control prices, the great majority of the 121 authors they contacted were scholars, scientists, and clerics, while only perhaps a dozen were known to the public primarily as writers of fiction or poetry. See Barnes 188-89. (return to text)

6. The curious failure of libraries to take advantage of opportunities offered by these advances in photography was the subject of an 1884 address by Richard Garnett, Keeper of Printed Books as the British Museum, entitled "Photography in Public Libraries" (Essays). Diamond also pioneered photographic study of the insane (see Sander L. Gilman's The Face of Madness: Hugh W. Diamond and the Origin of Psychiatric Photography). (return to text)

7. In a plea for briefer contributions and private replies, Thoms put the matter this way: "A little, modest, demure-looking Query slips into print, and by the time it has been in print a fortnight, we find that it has a large family of Replies, who all come about it, and claim settlement on the ground of their parentage" h(1 January 1853, 1-2). This same vein of donnish whimsy so characteristic of the man is reflected in the caption reproduced beneath his photograph in the Jubilee number for November 4, 1899: If you would fain know more Of him whose Photo here is-- He coined the word Folk-lore And founded Notes & Queries (return to text)

8. Apart from Shakespeare, Junius, longevity, and photographic correspondence, some of the longest-running individual threads in the first series (1849-56) included: books burned by the hangman; books chained in churches; coach traveling in England; why judges wear collars made up of A-shaped links; traditional cures for warts and whooping cough; the presence of hourglasses in pulpits; the uses of mistletoe; and the practice of giving thanks for the Gospel during the Anglican service. Among the more intriguing threads in this series was one begun by mathematician Augustus de Morgan, a frequent contributor, who outlined a computational method for identifying a given work's author (8 Sept. 1855: 181-82) that led to a lively exchange. (return to text)

9. The writer of the informative fiftieth-anniversary tribute estimated that the number of gravestone epitaphs featured in the journal had thus far totaled 1600 (4 Nov. 1899: 373). (return to text)

10. Dewey Ganzel, in the course of his effort to rehabilitate the reputation of the hapless Collier, gives the fullest account of this controversy. The acute discomfort of Thoms's position--torn as he was between loyalty to his old friend and his commitment to evenhandedness as editor--comes through clearly in the agonized hesitations and rewritings of his draft letter of September 1853 to A. E. Brae (the irascible "AEB"), which is preserved at the Huntington Library (MS. 27862). I would like to record my thanks to Professor Thomas Prasch of Washburn University for transcribing the Thoms correspondence at the Huntington for me. (return to text)

11. Stymied by this policy, one particularly disgruntled Shakespearean flamethrower, a clergyman named Arrowsmith, went so far as to have a pamphlet privately printed that reproduced his rejected contribution and denounced not only Thoms but also Singer, who had supported Collier against the author in the matter of a disputed passage in Coriolanus. A copy of this peculiar production is now in the British Library (BL 11765.d.9). (return to text)

11. Recently the Internet Library of Early Journals project, sponsored by a consortium of universities, has digitized the entire text of the first twenty years of N&Q and made it available in searchable form on the World Wide Web at http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/ilej/ Mr. Thoms, we can be sure, would have liked that. (return to text)

Last Modified 10 September 2020