Mary Howitt and Howitt's Journal (1847–48)

  • Joanne Shattock University of Leicester

Abstract

This article examines a rare phenomenon in nineteenth-century British print culture, a periodical jointly edited by a husband and wife team. Howitt’s Journal, a weekly miscellany with a progressive political agenda, ran for only eighteen months from January 1847 to June 1848, edited by William and Mary Howitt. The history of Howitt’s Journal is particularly relevant to the question of women’s agency in the world of periodicals, the ways in which women editors could have a public voice and engage in debate on political and social issues. One methodological issue the article raises is how we assess an editor’s contribution to any publication, the nature of their input, and the extent to which they drive the agenda. In the case of a joint editorship, how do we identify the contributions and responsibilities of each editor? The paper is based on an examination of Mary Howitt’s unpublished letters in the Houghton Library, Harvard, which provide new evidence of the extent of her involvement in the Journal. It tests the Howitts’ editorial style, and Mary’s in particular, against theories of editorship put forward by Patten and Finkelstein (2006) and Matthew Philpotts (2012) and suggests that these models of editorship are essentially masculine.

Author Biography

Joanne Shattock, University of Leicester
Emeritus Professor of Victorian Literature
Published
2021-07-01