The Robert and Vineta Colby Scholarly Book Prize

routledge handbook nineteenth

Nomination Deadline: February 19, 2018, for books published  in 2017.


Submit your nomination by February 19, 2018 using the form that can be found at:


Nomination Eligibility

Titles for the year 2017 can be nominated by the public, publishers, or self-nominated by the author. In addition to being published in 2017, 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.

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.

The chair of the Colby committee this year is Andrew King: he can be reached at

The 2017 winner of the Robert and Vineta Colby Scholarly Book Prize is The Routledge Handbook to Nineteenth-Century British Periodicals and Newspapers co-edited by Andrew King, Alexis Easley and John Morton. 

The Committee describes the book as “a standard reference work” that offers “cutting-edge, comprehensive scholarship by experts in each area”. The volume was seen as “wide-ranging and diverse” in ways that stepped beyond Great Britain to consider British newspapers and periodicals in relation to North American, European, Australian and Asian publications.

Of the fourteen nominated titles for this year’s award, four were shortlisted for further consideration. As well as the Routledge Handbook the shortlisted books were Maria Damkjaer’s Time, Domesticity and Print Culture in Nineteenth-Century Britain; Jude Piesse’s British Settler Emigration in Print; and Kimberley Stern’s The Social Life of Criticism: Gender, Critical Writing, and the Politics of Belonging.

It was heartening to see such a range of ambitious, volume-length publications that relate in different ways to the further understanding of Victorian periodicals and newspapers.

Previous winners of the prize:

  • 2016: Mary Shannon for Dickens, Reynolds, and Mayhew on Wellington Street: The Print Culture of a Victorian Street, (Abingdon: Routledge, 2015).
  • 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).