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Format: A cumulative index, Accessing English Literary Periodicals, A Guide to the Microfilm Collection, provides access by title, subject, editor, and reel number. Free with collection. Each reel begins with a contents page.
Media: 969 reels of 35mm microfilm
Coverage Dates: 1681-1914
Sources Covered: 5,255 volumes

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During the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries, periodicals in Britain served the same functions that television serves today: information, education, entertainment, and advertising.

This major collection of 233 titles provides incomparable detail about British life and culture during these centuries. Moreover, almost all the important writers of the period--Defoe, Addison, Steele, Goldsmith, Johnson, Mill, Hunt, Lamb, Tennyson, Eliot--can be found in these pages either as contributors or on the mastheads as editors.

While predominantly literary in nature, these periodicals also encompass a wide variety of subject matter for research in many sub-disciplines of English literature and history.


Pre-18th Century Including nearly all pre-1700 periodical publications, the collection begins with the earliest British periodical published--Heraclitus Ridens (1681-82), which was a comic weekly of ribaldry, mock ads, and burlesque news. The serious, intellectual nature of the era is reflected, too, in such publications as Works of the Learned (1691-92), offering its readers "an impartial judgement of books newly printed."


The 18th Century In the magazines and miscellanies of this century, scholars will find a plethora of cultural information in the form of moral commentary, Parliamentary debates, literary criticism, advice to lovers, learned essays, news summaries, poetry, obituaries, and lists of recently published books.

From the early 18th century, this collection includes Addison and Steele's famous periodicals the Tatler (1709-11), the Spectator (1711-14), and the Guardian (1713), which perfected the English essay and commented on contemporary morals and manners.


The 19th Century Because periodical publication burgeoned after 1800, English Literary Periodicals of necessity narrows its focus and provides predominantly literary selections to represent the 19th century.

This portion of the collection includes:


  • Monthly Repository (1806-38), which championed Robert Browning
  • Cambridge University Magazine (1839-43), a promoter of the Romantic poets
  • Englishman's Magazine (1831), which printed Hallam's important essay on Tennyson
  • Ainsworth's Magazine (1842-54) and Macmillan's Magazine (1859-1907), both of which were popular periodicals of serialized fiction and published such authors as Mrs. Humphrey Ward, Richard Monckton Milnes, and Bret Harte

In addition, researchers will find journals devoted strictly to poetry, such as the Poetical Register (1801-11), and to theater, such as Theatrical Journal (1839-71).

Consisting of 22 subscription units of approximately 100,000 pages each, this collection is based on a bibliography compiled by Professor Richmond Bond of the University of North Carolina in cooperation with a committee of scholars.


Individual reels may be purchased from this collection.

  • Content Type: A cumulative index, Accessing English Literary Periodicals, A Guide to the Microfilm Collection, provides access by title, subject, editor, and reel number. Free with collection. Each reel begins with a contents page.

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