British Short Fiction in the Early Nineteenth Century by Tim Killick

By Tim Killick

Inspite of the significance of the belief of the 'tale' inside of Romantic-era literature, brief fiction of the interval has bought little recognition from critics. Contextualizing British brief fiction in the broader framework of early nineteenth-century print tradition, Tim Killick argues that authors and publishers sought to provide brief fiction in book-length volumes as a fashion of competing with the radical as a valid and prestigious style. starting with an outline of the improvement of brief fiction in the course of the overdue eighteenth century and research of the publishing stipulations for the style, together with its visual appeal in magazines and annuals, Killick exhibits how Washington Irving's highly renowned collections set the level for British writers. next chapters give some thought to the tales and sketches of writers as various as Mary Russell Mitford and James Hogg, in addition to didactic brief fiction by way of authors reminiscent of Hannah extra, Maria Edgeworth, and Amelia Opie. His e-book makes a resounding case for the evolution of brief fiction right into a self-conscious, deliberately smooth shape, with its personal strategies and imperatives, become independent from these of the unconventional.

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Moir. Fraser’s Magazine also took over from the declining London Magazine as the most significant publisher of folklore and traditional material. The novelist Andrew Picken performed a similar role for Fraser’s to that of Allan Cunningham at the London, and supplied a steady stream of Scottish tales and legends. In fact, Cunningham himself joined Fraser’s at the end of his career, contributing a series titled ‘Rustic Controversies’ in 1840. As well as these Scottish writers, the folkloric output of Fraser’s included articles by the Irish antiquarian Thomas Crofton Croker, who published a series of ‘Specimens of Irish Minstrelsy’ in the magazine, as well as an assortment of traditions and sketches.

The Literary Speculum (1821– 22) appealed to a similar market to Blackwood’s and the London, and published a handful of tales during its relatively short life. Other periodicals directed themselves at more specific markets, and usually proclaimed their target audience in their titles. The Lady’s Magazine, for instance, which started in 1770 and went through several incarnations over the years, began a new run in 1820 and published some of Mary Russell Mitford’s first sketches. In the main, magazines published in London and Edinburgh enjoyed the largest circulations, but other regions were also represented by a large number of titles, such as the Kaleidoscope (1818–20), a Liverpool-based magazine which was the first British periodical to publish Washington Irving’s Geoffrey Crayon sketches.

Even twentieth-century magazines, such as the New Yorker, which define themselves to a large extent by the short stories they publish, owe a significant debt to the innovations of Blackwood’s Magazine during the 1820s. Magazines are a literary mode which it is difficult to idealise. They are too clearly stamped with the politics and pragmatics of Grub Street to conjure up the same sort of fantasies of inspired composition which poetry and the novel can sometimes engender. Nonetheless, magazines were often spaces in which writers and editors 46 For further details of this series see Robert Morrison and Chris Baldick (eds), Tales of Terror from Blackwood’s Magazine (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1995).

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