Living by the Press. Women, work and the Victorian periodical

Start - End 
2019 - 2019 (completed)



This project deals with Victorian women’s work and the Victorian periodical press. Weeklyand monthly magazines proliferated in the nineteenth century, opening up new opportunitiesfor female employment. Women from a variety of social backgrounds pursued careers in thepress, selling stories, poems or essays to the magazines. Others established their own journalsor sought employment as illustrators or typesetters. This project seeks to present acomprehensive overview of the different types of work that Victorian women undertook forthe press in a career context. In addition, it will consider women’s periodical work in relationto their life trajectories, examining why and at what particular moments in their lives womendecided to embark on a career in the periodical press. At the heart of the project is thehypothesis that there is frequently a gap or discrepancy between what women wrote in themagazines and the lives they were leading. Often struggling to make ends meet, womencreated fictional voices and sold norms and ideals to which they themselves did not alwaysadhere. This project will examine how women reinvented themselves in the press, andconsider what they gained and lost in the process. In doing so, it will shed light on thefunctions of the press in the personal and professional lives of Victorian women, andconversely on the ways in which they as individuals, leading their own unpredictable lives,contributed to that massive body of texts known as “the Victorian periodical press.”