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Provincial Readers in Eighteenth-Century England$
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Jan Fergus

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199297825

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199297825.001.0001

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Audiences for Magazines and Serialized Publications

Audiences for Magazines and Serialized Publications

(p.197) 5 Audiences for Magazines and Serialized Publications
Provincial Readers in Eighteenth-Century England


Oxford University Press

This chapter begins by considering four issues in relation to the Clays' large customer base for magazines: the intersection of male and female taste; expansion of subscriptions; subscription attrition; and the relations between audiences for magazines and the novel. For instance, the contributions that a Clay customer, William Gough (probably employed at an inn outside Daventry) actually made to the Lady's Magazine, especially his poem in its praise, are analysed in detail — along with his poetical exchanges with other male readers — as evidence for cross-class and cross-gendered reading of and writing for this important magazine. The chapter also investigates its success in attracting women subscribers. It explores the phenomenon of women's concealed reading: women whose subscriptions are recorded for years under a husband's, father's, or brother's. It considers how subscription histories (what magazines are taken, and for how long) illustrate the workings of the market. The chapter analyses the relation between audiences for magazines and for novels, showing that generally magazine subscribers did not also buy or borrow novels. Although case studies of customers who subscribed to many magazines show their somewhat greater interest in consuming other forms of fiction, even subscribers to the Novelist's Magazine did not necessarily buy or borrow other novels — and most did not subscribe for long. Finally, the chapter turns to the incomplete Clay records for serialized publications; only one novel, Don Quixote, was purchased in serial form by Clay customers, who bought primarily reference books and Bibles in fascicles. The chapter's study of works issued periodically indicates that although the Clays' smaller audience for novels tended to show interest in magazines and even serials, the reverse was simply not true: as the magazines reached wider audiences, their subscribers did not obtain or borrow novels in any greater proportion than other customers. Among provincial customers, proliferation of fictions in magazines did not expand the audience for novels.

Keywords:   magazines, magazine subscribers, Lady's Magazine, novels, serialized publications

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