The Research Society for Victorian Periodicals is delighted to announce the Winner of the
2023 Robert and Vineta Colby Scholarly Book Prize, awarded annually to the book,
published in the preceding year that most advances our understanding of the nineteenth-
The Colby Book Prize was endowed in 2006 in memory of Robert Colby by his wife, Vineta
Colby, both 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.
Our 2023 Winner of the Colby Scholarly Book Prize
Jennie Batchelor, for The Lady’s Magazine (1770-1832) and the Making of Literary History (Edinburgh University Press, 2022). The committee described Batchelor’s book as ‘compelling’, ‘bold’, ‘exciting’, and highly impactful for the discipline. The study is focused entirely on recovering the historical and literary importance of a major but understudied title. It displays considerable archival work, is meticulously researched, and offers a sophisticated argument that also manages to be powerfully and entertainingly written. Batchelor’s The Lady’s Magazine is a model of an extended case study that also makes an intervention in literary studies, with a reach that links communities of writers and readers from the end of the eighteenth century to well into the nineteenth century.
In addition, the committee selected Matthew Wale’s Making Entomologists: How Periodicals
Shaped Scientific Communities in Nineteenth-Century Britain (University of Pittsburgh Press,
2022) for Honourable Mention. The committee praised Wale’s thorough and substantial
study of natural history periodicals, pointing out the thoughtful way in which material is
organised around four entomological modes of discourse. Archival work informs the strong
narrative thread running through the book, and the whole greatly increases our
understanding of the role of periodicals in the popular representation of science in the
The committee also shortlisted Andrew King, ed., Work and the Nineteenth-Century Press:
Living Work for Living People (epub, Routledge, 2022) commending its broad and deep
importance for Victorian periodical studies, its innovative organisation, and its combination
of weighty original research with some ambitious conceptual models.