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Jennie Batchelor , Manushag N. This innovative volume presents for the first time collective expertise on women's magazines and periodicals of the long eighteenth century. While this period witnessed the birth of modern periodical culture and its ability to shape aspects of society from the popular to the political, most studies have traditionally obscured the very active role women's voices and women readers played in shaping the periodicals that in turn shaped Britain.

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The lavishly illuminated late 13th century North French Hebrew Miscellany contains mostly biblical and liturgical texts, but also legal material, over poems, and calendars. The Trevelyon Miscellany of , an oversized illustrated manuscript of pages, depicts a wide range of subjects including herbal cures, biblical stories, a list of the mayors of London, proverbs, calendars, and embroidery patterns.

Verse miscellanies are collections of poems or poetic extracts that vary in authorship, genre, and subject matter. The earlier tradition of manuscript verse continued to be produced in the 16th century and onwards, and many of these early examples are preserved in national, state, and university libraries, as well as in private collections. The Devonshire Manuscript is a verse miscellany that was produced in the s and early s, and contains a range of works, from original pieces and fragments to translations and medieval verse.

Compiled by three eminent women, it is one of the first examples of men and women collaborating on a literary work. Printed verse miscellanies arose in the latter half of the 16th century, during the reign of Elizabeth I — First printed in , it ran into nine further editions before ; it was not then printed again until the 18th century. The poetry in these miscellanies varied widely in genre , form, and subject, and would frequently include: love lyrics , pastorals , odes , ballads , songs , sonnets , satires , hymns , fables , panegyrics , parodies , epistles , elegies , epitaphs , and epigrams , as well as translations into English and prologues and epilogues from plays.

The practice of attributing poems in miscellanies was equally varied: sometimes editors would carefully identify authors, but most often the miscellaneous form would allow them to disregard conventions of authorship.

Authorship in the Eighteenth Century

Often authors were indicated by a set of initials, a partial name, or by reference to a previous poem "by the same hand"; equally often there were anonymous or pseudonymous attributions, as well as misattributions to other authors — or even made-up or deceased persons. Within a miscellany, editors and booksellers would often exercise considerable freedom in reproducing, altering, and extracting texts. Due to early copyright laws, lesser-known authors would regularly play no part in the printing process, receive no remuneration or royalties , and their works could be freely redistributed and sometimes even pirated once in the public domain.

Throughout the 18th century, the miscellany was the customary mode through which popular verse and occasional poetry would be printed, circulated, and consumed. Michael F. Suarez, one of the leading authorities on miscellanies, states:.

Periodical Eidolatry | Eighteenth-Century Life | Duke University Press

The importance of printed miscellanies is evidenced by the fact that there are some 1, surviving verse miscellanies and anthologies including reprints and separate issues, but excluding songbooks for the seventy-five years from to — more than fifteen per annum. Including songbooks, the New Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature lists almost verse miscellanies which were printed between and In a competitive market the title of miscellanies was increasingly important.

Without a specific selling-point, more generic complications would use catch-all titles as a tactic to familiarise themselves with a wide range of audiences and to appeal to a breadth of tastes. Despite these categorizations, miscellanies attempted to appeal to a wide audience by containing a variety of material for different tastes.

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Although an editor might orient the miscellany towards an intended audience, by nature of the variety of verse a much wider readership would have been possible. Often the commercial success of a miscellany would stimulate the publication of similarly titled, parasitic, and even entirely pirated works. Dublin booksellers, outside the jurisdiction of the Statute of Anne which had established copyright in England, could legally reproduce any popular miscellany that they thought would make a profit.

Although poetry maintained cultural pre-eminence for most of the 18th century, it was at the same time retreating before the advance of prose, and particularly the rise of the novel , as the new dominant form of literary expression in the West. Lee Erickson argues:. Once the materials and means of printing became cheaper, diffuse prose was no longer at a comparative economic disadvantage with compressed poetry.

The periodical format, in particular, gave rise to a variety of shorter prose forms that competed for and largely won over the audience for poetry. There were few, if any, miscellanies devoted to poetry. Instead, verse would be the minority of content, in order to provide variety from the extensive prose:. Barbara M. Benedict argues:. Printing technologies and the rise of the novel played an important role in reshaping the nature of miscellanies, as did changing ideas about the native literary canon. Attempts to construct a credible canon of English verse had been ongoing since the early 18th century, and with its success the place of poetry was determined by the advent of authoritative anthologies which claimed to represent the very best of the English poetic tradition.

In contrast to anthologies , whose aim is to give a canonical history of literature, miscellanies tend to reflect the dynamic literary culture of the time in which they were produced. As Michael F. Suarez states:. Miscellanies are usually compilations of relatively recent texts designed to suit contemporary tastes; anthologies, in contrast, are generally selections of canonical texts which have a more established history and a greater claim to cultural importance. Sign In or Create an Account.

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