1st Edition

William Maginn and the British Press A Critical Biography

By David E. Latané Copyright 2013

    The first scholarly treatment of the life of William Maginn (1794-1842), David Latané’s meticulously researched biography follows Maginn’s life from his early days in Ireland through his career in Paris and London as political journalist and writer and finally to his sad decline and incarceration in debtor’s prison. A founding editor of the daily Standard (1827), Maginn was a prodigal author and editor. He was an early and influential contributor to Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, and a writer from the Tory side for The Age, New Times, English Gentleman, Representative, John Bull, and many other papers. In 1830, he launched Fraser’s Magazine for Town and Country, the early venue for such Victorians as Thackeray and Carlyle, and he was intimately involved with the poet 'L.E.L.' In 1837, he wrote the prologue for the first issue of Bentley’s Miscellany, edited by Dickens. Through painstaking archival research into Maginn’s surviving letters and manuscripts, as well as those of his associates, Latané restores Maginn to his proper place in the history of nineteenth-century print culture. His book is essential reading for nineteenth-century scholars, historians of the book and periodical, and anyone interested in questions of authorship in the period.

    Contents: Preface; Part I 1794-1823: 'And the city is Cork!'; The Cork correspondent; 'The whiskey of the compound'. Part II 1824-1829: London is London; 'A very prosopopoeia of the public press'; Bearing the Standard. Part III 1830-1835: Regina; 'Something shabby about Bulwer'; 'Put the rogues to rout in the year 32'; 'Prison spikes'; 'A strange mystery’ ’Attila’ and ’the sweep’. Part IV 1836-1842: 'Shot at by Doctor Maginn!'; 'The wits of Bentley'; 'Can unhappy poverty sing songs?'; The heart leaps up; 'Reduced to want'; Epilogue: 'a famous subject for moralizing'; Appendices; Sources; Index.


    David E. Latané is Professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University, USA.

    Prizewinner: Joint winner of the Robert and Vineta Colby Scholarly Book Prize 2013, awarded by The Research Society for Victorian Periodicals 'Shakespeare, [Maginn] commented, recreates for us the wonderful court of princes, beggars, judges, swindlers, heroes, bullies, gentlemen, scoundrels, justices, thieves, knights tapsters and the rest whom he drew about him, and this is what David Latane, in the teeth of considerable difficulty, has done for Maginn’s world.' Times Literary Supplement '... What this biography does achieve is to piece together, at times ingeniously, the fragmented and wayward life of a unique man of letters.' Library and Information History '... Latané's book thus makes an unusually valuable contribution to modern scholarship on early-nineteenth-century British periodical culture. ... with its wealth of literary and political details and anecdotes, this is a book that belongs in the library of any scholar interested in Blackwood's, Fraser's, and nineteenth-century British periodicals in general.' NBOL19 ’Latané’s study does a fine job of balancing a careful assessment of Maginn’s excesses with an appreciation of his immense productivity. Latané has offered an extraordinary picture of the bustling world of literary London that[...] runs against the grain of Romantic stereotypes of creative genius.’ BARS Review '[The book] is a significant study of the dilemma of working with words that has troubled writers, authors, editors, publishers and scholars from the nineteenth century to the present day. ... a pleasure to read. Always clear and well-crafted, the prose is often enhanced with unexpectedly apt turns of phrase ...' Victorians Institute Journal