The Strand Magazine, Advertising and the Meaningful Object

Kate Brombley
University of Portsmouth

The nineteenth century saw an increase in literacy and concurrently a
rise in literature for the masses. When George Newnes created a new
kind of periodical in 1890, the Strand Magazine: an Illustrated
Monthly, he wanted to created magazine that was self-contained and
could be classified as ‘cheap, healthful literature.’
(“INTRODUCTION,” 1891) It was important to him that this new
publication was edifying for the middle-class reader. It is because of
this that he has come under scrutiny by critics such as Kate Jackson,
Christopher Pittard, and Ruth Hoberman for being a principle figure in
the wave of New Journalism in the 1890s. I wish to build upon the work
started by these critics, who have established that the Strand had a
purposeful aim to associate objects with certain values, such as
health. I will examine the Strand Magazine as an example of
middle-class periodical publishing, looking at the editorial decisions
surrounding the idea of writing, and in particular writing tools.
As Reginald Pound states: ‘the middle-classes of England never cast
a clearer image of themselves in print than they did in The Strand
Magazine. Confirming their preference for mental as well as physical
comfort, for more than half a century it faithfully mirrored their
tastes, prejudices, and intellectual limitations.’ (Pound, 1966, p.
7) I will build on the work of Pittard and Jackson and evaluate the
middle-class values the Strand sought to associate with writing
through advertising, seeking to highlight the potential problems they
faced. This paper will use rare copies of the Strand Magazine found in
the Arthur Conan Doyle Collection, the Richard Lancelyn Green Bequest
in Portsmouth as first hand material and will note the complexities of
interpreting Victorian objects by using Thing Theory, following the
example of Elaine Freedgood in The Ideas in Things: Fugitive Meaning
in the Victorian Novel.

Newspapers and Periodicals in Britain and Ireland from 1800 to 1900