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When Dickens Was News - Classic Magazines
Compiled by Richard Seltzer

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When Dickens Was News

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When Dickens Was News
Classic Magazines

Compiled and Indexed by Richard Seltzer
B&R Samizdat Express - November 9, 2004
ISBN: 0-931968-95-X
Genre: History, Social Science, Literature

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - December 12, 2004

Reading magazines has been a favorite pastime of readers the world over - for decades. Many of today's best-loved authors, such as Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Elizabeth Gaskell, and Alfred Lord Tennyson had their works published in the magazines of their day, long before their names became household words. In many cases, these writers had novels initially published, in serial form, in a magazine. Novels that first saw the light of day as a magazine serials includes The Woman in White, by Wilkie Collins, Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens, and Jude the Obscure, by Thomas Hardy.

Magazines not only provide a forum for writers, but many also provide their reader's with informative articles, advertisements, and advice. In addition, magazines also provide a snapshot of the cultural and social history of the period in which they were published, providing historians, students, writers, and the curious with a window into the past. In When Dickens Was News: Classic Magazines Richard Seltzer has compiled an outstanding collection of Victorian era magazines from both the United States and Britain. Contained on a single CD, this collection is comprised of the text of various editions of some of the best Victorian magazines, including: I did a rough count, and there appears to be about 500 issues, from more than 15 different magazines, in this impressive collection. Not only do these issues contain the works of many of the Victorian era authors that are now deemed to have been literary masters, but they also provide an unprecedented glimpse into Victorian era life, the American Civil War, the British perspective on the Napoleonic Wars, and World War I.

Many of these works also include questions sent in to the magazine. For example, in the January 19, 1850 issue of Notes and Queries: a Medium of Inter-Communication for Literary Men, Artists, Antiquaries, Genealogists, etc. someone asked the question, "Can any of your valuable correspondents give me the origin or derivation of the word Snob?" The edify answer to the question was, "In the town in which I reside, in the north of England, the word Snob was formerly applied to a cobbler, and the phrase was in use, "Snip the tailor, and Snob the cobbler." This is just a minor taste of the unique and fascinating tidbits of information that are contained within these magazines. Historians and writer's of historical fiction will be especially delighted with this collection as it serves as a ready font of information into this bygone era. These magazines are also unbelievably fascinating just to browse through as you never know what you'll stumble across, from Rise of the Kiuprili Family - Siege of Candia, part of a series on Turkish history that was published in the June 1843 issue of Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine to a treatise against slavery published in the February 1862 issue of The Continental Monthly.

Many of these magazines, such as The Strand, were, in their original form, illustrated. This collection, however, just contains the text of the magazines. As well, all the files in this collection are plain text files (ASCII). This means that the files can be readily accessible using computer screen reading and magnification software. In addition, you can easily use your computers search or find and replace function to search for specific keywords that you are interested in.

This CD is designed for use with a Window's based PC. You will also need to have a web browser (such as Internet Explorer or Netscape) and/or a Windows based word-processing program such as Microsoft Word, or Corel's Word Perfect, in order to read the text. Once the text is opened, you can enlarge the font to suit your reading needs.

Included on this CD is a freeware copy of ReadPlease 2003, a text-to-speech software program that will read the text of the books aloud to you. Also included is a trail version of the commercial version of this program, called ReadPlease Plus. The freeware version can only handle 16k of data at a time. In most cases, I found this to be more than sufficient. The commercial version will read files of any size. To find out more about these programs, or to purchase the commercial version, visit: www.readplease.com. Instructions on how to install and use the freeware version, and the trial version, are included on the Classic Magazines CD.


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