After I finished my essay for the Punch Digital Archive that I mentioned in my last post, I turned to a fun project I had thinking about for quite some time: to put together a historical archive for my own Victorian magazine, Allan’s Miscellany, complete with selected articles. Fictional reporters reporting about (mostly) real news? Yeah, that’s my kind of historical-geek-catnip. 🙂
Earlier this week, the Allan’s Miscellany digital archive finally went online, complete with very serious scholarly commentary –
“Though articles were published anonymously or pseudonymously, as was the wont in the Victorian Age, the early issues of Allan’s clearly display the influence of its charismatic editor, William MacNeil.”
– and a selection of articles from October 1839, December 1842, and April 1847. Real news!
“Visitors to Madame TUSSAUD’S elegant exhibition of waxworks will find that the collection has recently been extended to include figures of Calvin, Knox, and Luther as well as Her Majesty, in her Robes of State.”
Snarky reviews of (mostly) real books!
“The second part of Lady CHARLOTTE GUEST’s translation of the “Mabinogion” from the Welsh has just been released. While the “Literary Gazette” was thrown into raptures over the volume, we cannot help but wonder whether such old-
fashioned romances as are included in the “Mabinogion” will not induce even more chivalric delusions in readers who easily fall victim to such humbug. We therefore cannot recommend Lady CHARLOTTE’s translation to young men of the gentry and the aristocracy.”
This was, of course, the perfect excuse to rummage around several Victorian magazines in search for contemporary amusements, theatrical productions, book releases, and political news. And I found the most amaaaaaaaaazing stuff!!! (she squeals.)
Like the Christmas pantomime that the guys from Punch (yes, my Punch!!!!) wrote for the Christmas season of 1842: “PUNCH’S PANTOMIME; or, Harlequin, King John, and Magna Charta,” performed at Covent Garden.
Even better than that: for the same year I also stumbled across a mention of the Glaciarium – London’s very first ice-skating rink with artificial (!!!) ice. It was installed in the Baker Street Bazaar at Portman Square, and the rink itself was surrounded by an Alpine panorama, which seems to have been partly painted and partly a scenery with rocks, little cottages and benches for visitors to explore. (The image above, however, is from Punch.) The Glaciarium was only open for two years, from 1842 to 1844. When it closed at the Baker Street Bazaar, it was apparently removed to another location, though I wasn’t able to find anything on that.
Still – an ice-skating rink with artificial ice in 1842? That find pleased my inner historical geek to no end! 🙂
What about you? What kind of news would you be looking for when rummaging through old magazines? Book reviews? News about the Queen? The latest fashion trends?