2015 Ghent Conference Follow-up

Following an extremely successful conference in Ghent this summer a Storify link of Tweets from the event has now been set up.  With thanks to Shannon Smith for encouraging colleagues to Tweet throughout the event and Helena Goodwyn for bringing the collection together, herewith is the address where the full story can now be found:


RSVP 2015 Conference in Ghent makes international news

RSVP’s 2015 conference in Ghent was a fascinating experience — splendid papers and plenary lectures in a gloriously historic setting. We’ll be posting more about it soon. The biggest news out of the conference, however, was this: scholar and bookdealer Jeremy Parrott revealed at RSVP, for the first time anywhere, his discovery of a “marked set” of All the Year Round. This hitherto unrecorded “deluxe edition” in scarlet binding has handwritten marginalia identifying (almost) all of the contributors by name, next to each one’s contribution. Between 300 and 400 contributors of some 2500 articles, stories, and poems, are now conclusively identified for the first time. As if this were not exciting enough news, experts like Michael Slater and John Drew have been able to confirm that many of these annotations are in Dickens’s own hand. In his paper, Dr. Parrott made a persuasive case that this was Dickens’s own personal set of the magazine, probably kept in his private office at the magazine’s offices in Wellington Street.

The atmosphere in the room when Dr. Parrott delivered his news was electric. As this group of scholars knows better than any other, a “marked set” of any Victorian magazine is an extremely rare and precious thing. Beginning with the astonishing achievements of the Wellesley Index to Victorian Periodicals and continuing today in the Curran Index, RSVP-affiliated scholars have scoured the globe for such sets, and have used these and every other kind of resource — letters, diaries, reprints, ledgers, stylistic analysis, and much else — to discover, once and for all, the names of the authors who contributed anonymously to these hugely popular and influential Victorian journals.

Obviously, there is a great deal of work for scholars to do — experts in Victorian periodicals, as well as Dickensians — before we can know all of the implications of this stupendous All the Year Round discovery. In the meantime, articles have already appeared in the Independent, the Guardian, the Telegraph, and more media coverage is on the way. This could prove to be a wonderful opportunity to let more non-specialist readers know about the fascinating world of Victorian magazines and newspapers, and about the decades-long efforts of scholars to pierce the veil of anonymity characteristic of Victorian journalism to more fully reveal the riches of that world to readers everywhere.

Victorian Periodicals Review, the journal of RSVP, will feature an article by Jeremy Parrott about his discovery in an upcoming issue.

2015 VanArsdel Award – Winner Announced

The Research Society for Victorian Periodicals is pleased to announce the winner of the 2015 VanArsdel Award: Claire Furlong, a doctoral student at the University of Exeter. Her essay, “Health Advice in Popular Periodicals: Reynolds’s Miscellany, the Family Herald, and Their Correspondents,” will appear in the Spring 2016 issue of Victorian Periodicals Review. We offer her our warmest congratulations!


The VanArsdel Prize is awarded annually to the best graduate student essay investigating Victorian periodicals and newspapers. The award was established in 1990 to honor Rosemary VanArsdel, a founding member of RSVP whose groundbreaking research continues to inspire generations of researchers.


For more information about the VanArsdel Award, see http://www.rs4vp.org/prizes.html. A subscription to VPR, which includes membership in the Research Society for Victorian Periodicals, is only $35 ($30 for students): https://www.press.jhu.edu/cgi-bin/order.cgi?oc_id=1707.

Workshop Report: Working with 19th-Century Medical and Health Periodicals, University of Oxford, 30 May 2015

The workshop ‘Working with 19th-Century Medical and Health Periodicals’ was held on 30 May 2015 and co-organized by the ERC-funded ‘Diseases of Modern Life’ Project and the AHRC-funded ‘Constructing Scientific Communities’ Project, both based at St. Anne’s College, University of Oxford. The aim of the event was to facilitate conversation about the use of medical and health periodicals in historical and literary research, a resource which has been central not only to the work of the aforementioned projects, but also to that of many other scholars interested in various aspects of nineteenth-century history and literature. The programme was interdisciplinary, trans-institutional, bringing together both librarians and researchers, and international in its approach, with papers covering an impressive array of topics and countries, including Britain, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Poland, Portugal, and Russia. Overall, approximately 60 participants based at institutions in the United Kingdom, Portugal, Norway, Austria, and the United States attended the workshop and a total of 18 papers were presented. The workshop also featured two poster presentations by Ann Hale (University of Greenwich) and Bernhard Leitner (University of Vienna), on medical jurisprudence in legal periodicals and the role of neurological journals in the development of Japanese psychiatry, respectively.

Full details available on their blog site: https://networks.h-net.org/node/14542/discussions/72773/workshop-report-working-19th-century-medical-and-health-periodicals

In Memoriam: Linda Peterson

Linda H. Peterson, born on October 11, 1948, died peacefully June 25, 2015, on the campus of Yale University, where she was a professor and former chair in the Department of English.  Until days before her death, which ended a multi-year battle against cancer, few friends knew the seriousness of her illness, for she had decided that she wished to focus on the pleasures of her work as an active scholar, finishing her latest book, and as a contributor to university life, which she was, during her 38 years on the faculty.  Her books include Victorian Autobiography (1986), Traditions of Victorian Women’s Autobiography (1999) and Becoming a Woman of Letters (2009). Her work also enriched the teaching of writing nationwide, through her role as general editor of The Norton Reader in five editions published from 1996 through the current edition and in her role as past president of the National Council of Writing Program Administrators.

She will be greatly missed by many colleagues and students; by her mother, Martha Haenlein Boese; by her three younger sisters, Deborah Haenlein Kile, Carla Haenlein Piazza, and Kristy Haenlein Taylor; and by her husband, Fred Strebeigh, her colleague at Yale since 1979.  At her request, there will be no funeral.  Colleagues are creating a fund, in her honor, to support travel by graduate students to conduct research and attend conferences.  A memorial celebrating the publication of her new book, the Cambridge Companion to Victorian Women’s Writing, of which she is editor, with contributions from 17 scholars from around the world, will take place near the book’s publication in late 2015.