Distant friends of the people
Howitt’s Journal and Douglas Jerrold’s Shilling Magazine
in The penny politics of Victorian popular fiction
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The final chapter examines a number of reformist periodicals of popular progress and improvement that were concomitant with both the heyday of the popular and the Chartist press. In competition with those presses for working-class audiences, they tended to reject the image of their audience that emerges in them as interested in either cultural or political confrontations, or both. Focusing on Mary and William Howitt’s Howitt’s Journal (1847–48) and Douglas Jerrold’s Shilling Magazine (1845–48), the chapter looks at the way they cautiously responded to the radical canon but flat out rejected popular or ‘low-life’ literatures. The chapter makes clear that what the liberal periodical press feared most was the slippage of cultural and political confrontation between popular and radical genres. The acceptance of radical, and specifically Chartist, grievances by these papers, however reluctant, was contingent on the rejection of cultural challenges, as if the conflation of the radical and popular too dangerously offered a model for the conflation of moral- and physical-force Chartism.

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