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English 4970: Victorian Short Fiction: Find Fiction and Periodicals

Victorian Periodicals in the MU Libraries

The MU Libraries collections include many 19th century periodicals in print format. We list here some of the major examples. If you need to request volumes from the Depository, click on the title below to open the MERLIN catalog record, then click on "Request" at the top of the screen and follow the directions.

Most of these have also been digitized and are searchable in full text as part of the Hathi Trust Digital Library or may be available online in the British Periodicals database. To search within a specific journal in the Hathi Trust Digital Library, use the Advanced Catalog Search to locate the specific journal record, then view the catalog record to see the individual years. Click on a year to open the full text and search within that volume. Note that different catalog records come from different libraries and may contain different years. A volume that is not available in one place, may well be in another.

English Literary Periodicals 1681-1941 is a set of microfilm that includes many journals of interest. These are shelved alphabetically by the title of the journal or magazine in the microforms area of Special Collections. This collection is reproduced online as part of British Periodicals, but the microfilm may still be of use if you find the quality of the digital image to be less than satisfactory. The guide Accessing English Literary Periodicals (Special Collections Reference PN5124.P4 A25 1981) includes a subject index, listing journals by broad subject category. Those focusing on 19th century fiction include:

  • Ainsworth's Magazine
  • Cabinet, A Monthly Magazine of Polite Literature
  • Cabinet, or Monthly Report of Polite Literature
  • Censor
  • Edinburgh Literary Journal, or Weekly Register of Criticism and Belles Lettres
  • Hood's Magazine
  • Hood's Magazine and Comic Miscellany
  • Ladies' Monthly
  • Lady's Monthly Museum, or Polite Repository of Amusement and Instruction
  • London Review
  • Macmillan's Magazine 
  • Monthly Magazine
  • Monthly Magazine, or British Register
  • National Magazine
  • New Monthly
  • New Monthly Magazine
  • New Monthly Magazine and Literary Journal
  • New Monthly Magazine and Universal Register
  • New Universal Magazine, or Miscellany of Historical, Philosophical, Political, and Polite Literature
  • St. James's Magazine
  • Saint Pauls
  • Saint Pauls Magazine
  • Sharpe's London Journal
  • Sharpe's London Magazine
  • Sharpe's London Magazine of Entertainment and Instruction
  • Sixpenny Magazine
  • Time
  • Universal Magazine
  • Universal Magazine of Knowledge and Pleasure
  • Yellow Book

Catalogs of Additonal Periodicals

These sources list additional periodicals.

Finding Fiction in the Serials

C19 is the most comprehensive index of 19th Century serials, but does not search the full text of periodicals. British Periodicals does search the full text of articles within journals, but lacks the detailed subject tagging that C19 has.

If you don't have a specific author or title in mind, but want to browse fiction within the serials, use the British Periodicals section within C19 and limit to content type "fiction/narrative".

If C19 does not have full text of an article, the FindIt@MU links will appear and link you to online or print copies. If we have neither, it'll link you to ILL@MU. We should be able to get copies of things we don't have via interlibrary loan. 

More Tools for Finding Short Fiction

Some works originally published in serials may appear in anthologies or collected works. To find a short work published within a larger one, try searching in Google Books, the Hathi Trust Digital Library, or use the Short Story Index to locate stories within anthologies.

The following bibliographies indicate additional sources:

  • British Short Fiction in the Nineteenth Century: A Literary and Bibliographic Guide
    PR861 .H35, stacks 2 East
  • A Checklist of Women Writers, 1801-1900: Fiction, Verse, Drama
    Z2013.5.W6 A48 1990, stacks 1 West

Background on Periodicals


See Lionel Madden and Diana Dixon, "Histories and Studies of Individual Periodicals,"  and Joel H. Wiener, "Circulaton and the Stamp Tax" in Victorian Periodicals: A Guide to Research (Reference PN 5124 .P4 V5) for excellent directions on researching publishing history.  

Use these resources for quick background information on specific serials:

  • Waterloo Directory of English Newspapers & Periodicals: 1800-1900
    This directory provides detailed bibliographical records for 70,000 periodical and newspaper titles published in the 19th Century. Coverage includes titles published on a regular basis (daily to annually) in every language within England. Library locations, online sources, facsimile title pages and personal name entries are also included. A family tree providing all titles related through mergers, common issuing bodies and title changes is also available. Trial ends May 1, 2015.
  • Wellesley Index to Victorian Periodicals
    Click on "browse" to search by publication title. This displays extensive introductory material with notes on additional sources.
  • Dictionary of Nineteenth Century Journalism
    The DNCJ also has very useful background information on periodicals, publishers, editors, printers, distributors, and topics. Click on Browse at the bottom of the search page for a helpful overview.

To find studies on periodicals, use the standard research tools (MLAIB, LION, MERLIN, etc.) but also consult these more specialized bibliographies:

  • Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature, vol. 4, sec. 16 "Newspapers and Magazines"
    Reference PR83 .N45 1999
  • The Nineteenth-Century Periodical Press in Britain: A Bibliography of Modern Studies 1901 to 1971
    lists studies of individual periodicals that may contain useful information.
    Z6956.G6 M3, stacks 1 West
  • Victorian Periodicals Newsletter (1968-1978) and Victorian Periodicals Review (1979-present) provide updates.

The following works are helpful in exploring the world of Victorian publishing and reading habits:

  • Victorian Publishing: The Economics of Book Production for a Mass Market, 1836-1916
    Z325 .W425 2003, stacks 1 West
    The first chapter, on the use of archival resources, is available online.
  • The English Common Reader: a Social History of the Mass Reading Public, 1800-1900
    Z1003 .A57, stacks 1 West
  • Politics and the Press c. 1780-1850
    Depository 072 As66p

These 19th Century sources give insight into the marketing and distribution of reading material:

  • Bent's Literary Advertiser, Register of Books, Engravings, &c. 1835-1839
  • Bookseller: the Organ of the Book Trade 1861-1907 (incomplete)
  • Z6956.G6 M3, stacks 1 West
  • "Appendix A: A Descriptive Guide to the Contents of the Stamp Returns, 1824-70," in Victorian Periodicals: A Guide to Research, pp. 166-169 (Reference PN 5124 .P4 V5) indicates where to find records of the tax on periodicals in the parliamentary papers.
  • "Appendix B: Some Sample Circulations Derived from the Stamp Returns, 1829-54," in Victorian Periodicals: A Guide to Research, pp. 170-173 (Reference PN 5124 .P4 V5) provides estimates of circulation derived from the tax returns for a sample of periodicals.

Archival Sources

These sources help locate archival records for periodicals, publishers and authors.

  • WorldCat
    Search the name of the publisher as a "named corporation" to find business records or archives.
  • National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections (NUCMC)
  • British Book Trade Archives 1830-1939 : a Location Register
    Special Collections, Rare Reference Z325 .W444 1996
    An abbreviated list is available online.
  • A Guide to Archives and Manuscripts in the United States
    CD3022 .A45 1961, stacks 3 East
  • National Archives (UK)
  • Index of English Literary Manuscripts
    Vol. 4: 1800-1900
    Special Collections Rare Reference PR83 .I52 1980
  • Location Register of English Literary Manuscripts and Letters: Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries
    Special Collections Rare Reference PR441 .L6 1995
  • Primary Sources for Victorian Studies: A Guide to the Location and Use of Unpublished Materials  
    Depository Z2019 .S86

Subject Librarian

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Anne Barker
164 Ellis Library

Course Links

Prof. Elizabeth Chang

362 McReynolds
Office Hours: Tuesday 9-12 and by appointment

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