‘Victorian Popular Journalism’
Wilkie Collins Journal (Winter 2018)
Guest Editors: Drs Janine Hatter and Helena Ifill
“I hope nobody will be shocked, but it is only proper that I should confess, before writing another line, that I am about to disclose the existence of a Disreputable Society […] Our object is to waste our time, misemploy our intellects, and ruin our morals; or, in other words, to enjoy the prohibited luxury of novel-reading.”
(Wilkie Collins, ‘A Petition to the Novel-Writers’, Household Words, 1856)
These tongue-in-cheek words came from the pen of Wilkie Collins at a time when he was producing numerous articles, many of them for Charles Dickens’ popular periodical, Household Words. With a healthy dash of irony, Collins (in his role as a writer of non-fiction) casts aspersions on the value of fiction (the field in which he was hoping to make a lasting name for himself, and indeed soon would with the publication of The Woman in White). In doing so, Collins raises implicit questions about the relationship between journalism and fiction and about hierarchies of literary form. While Collins’s move into fiction suggests he prized one genre over the other, his journalism demonstrates his versatility – a trait that can be seen in the work of many authors (such as Margaret Oliphant, not to mention Dickens) who also supported themselves through their journalist outputs. His journalism covers travel writing, social commentary and satire, art and history, personal anecdotes, biographical sketches, and much more. As with his novels, Collins aimed to make his journalism both entertaining and socially-engaged. This element of his body of work remains largely untouched by modern critics, as do the journalistic works of many Victorian popular authors.
This special issue seeks to explore the journalism of Wilkie Collins and other Victorian popular authors, and more broadly to review the role of popular journalism in Victorian society. The guest editors are looking for articles that focus on both the content and the contexts of popular journalism. Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:
Full articles of 5-8,000 words in MLA format will be due 28 July 2017. Further information is available at the journal site: http://wilkiecollinssociety.org/journal/. The Wilkie Collins Journal is an online, peer-reviewed academic journal committed to publishing innovative and rigorous research into one of the most successful and important authors of the nineteenth century, as well as his related authors, periodicals and genres broadly defined.