The Robert and Vineta Colby Scholarly Book Prize

The Research Society for Victorian Periodicals is seeking nominations and suggestions of books published in 2016 which are eligible for consideration for the Robert and Vineta Colby Scholarly Book Prize.

The Colby Book Prize was endowed in 2006 in memory of Robert Colby by his wife, Vineta Colby, distinguished scholars and long-time members of RSVP. In 2011, following Vineta’s death, the Board of Directors of RSVP unanimously voted to re-name the prize to honor both Robert and Vineta Colby for their many fine contributions to the study of Victorian periodicals and their long commitment to RSVP.

The Colby Prize is intended to honor original book-length scholarship about Victorian periodicals and newspapers, of the kind that Robert and Vineta Colby themselves produced during their careers. The annual prize is awarded to a book published during the preceding year that most advances our understanding of the nineteenth-century British press. The winner receives a monetary award of up to $2,000 and is invited to speak at the following year’s RSVP conference.

In addition to being published in 2016, the nominated book should have any aspect of the nineteenth-century periodical press as either its central focus or as a substantial element in its scholarly discussion. Edited volumes of essays, reference books, bibliographies and scholarly editions are eligible for consideration, as well as biographies or critical studies of people who edited, financed, contributed to, or illustrated periodicals.

Nominations should be submitted to the chair of the Colby Prize Committee, Kitty Ledbetter ( ) by January 31, 2017.

The winner will be announced in April 2017.


The Colby Prize winner for 2016 is Mary Shannon for Dickens, Reynolds, and Mayhew on Wellington Street: The Print Culture of a Victorian Street, from Routledge. Honorable Mention goes to Marianne VanRemoortel for Women, Work, and the Victorian Periodical: Living by the Press, from Palgrave/Macmillan.

The Committee reports: “Mary L. Shannon’s book is an innovate expansion of the current interest in tracing networks into a consideration of the more concrete juxtaposition of bodies and buildings in space. Structured creatively around a day in the life of the street, the book entices us into seeing what would have been obvious to the Victorian eye and ear, but which our standard narratives have occluded. Shannon connects some of the more ephemeral products of the press and the situation of their production with canonical works, such as Bleak House, produced in the same milieu. It’s a book that models new ways to do our business.”

“Marianne Van Remoortel’s is an elegantly written and carefully researched picture of the lives of women press workers who were part of the growth of Victorian periodicals in the mid and late century. With great insight and a sophisticated ability to use new tools to track lives, she persuades us of the interest and value of knowing the biographical details not only of the well-known women who contributed, such as Rossetti, but also the lesser known creators such as “Mrs. Warren” (Eliza Warren Francis) of the Ladies’ Treasury. The book was a delight to read.”

Previous winners of the prize:

  • 2015: Caroline Bressey,  Empire, Race and the Politics of Anti-Caste (Bloomsbury, 2014), Honorable mention: Martin Hewitt, The Dawn of the Cheap Press in Victorian Britain: The End of the ‘Taxes on Knowledge,’ 1849-1869 (Bloomsbury, 2014).
  • 2014: Fionnuala Dillane, Before George Eliot: Marian Evans and the Periodical Press (Cambridge University Press, 2013) and David Latané, William Maginn and the British Press: A Critical Biography (Ashgate, 2013)
  • 2013: Aileen Fyfe, Steam-Powered Knowledge: William Chambers and the Business of Publishing, 1820-1860 (Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press, 2012) and Robert Patten, Charles Dickens and “Boz”: The Birth of the Industrial Age Author (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012).
  • 2012: Joel Wiener, The Americanization of the British Press, 1830s-1914 (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2011).
  • 2011: Patrick Leary, The Punch Brotherhood: Table Talk and Print Culture in Mid-Victorian London (London: British Library, 2010).
  • 2010: Mark Schoenfield, British Periodicals and Romantic Identity (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2008) and Laurel Brake and Marysa Demoor (eds) The Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century Journalism (Gent and London: Academia and the British Library, 2009).
  • 2009: Catherine Waters, Commodity Culture in Dickens’s Household Words: The Social Life of Goods (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008).
  • 2008: Kathryn Ledbetter, Tennyson and Victorian Periodicals: Commodities in Context (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007).
  • 2007: David Finkelstein, Print Culture and the Blackwood Tradition, 1805-1930 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005).
  • 2006: Linda Hughes, Graham R.: Rosamund Mariott Watson, Woman of Letters (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2005).
  • 2006: Peter Morton, The Busiest Man in London: Grant Allen and the Writing Trade, 1875-1900 (0New York and Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005).