Marriage or Celibacy?: The Daily Telegraph on a Victorian Dilemma

Overview

In July 1868 the Daily Telegraph congratulated itself on providing the arena for a controversy marked by 'good sense, liveliness, practical wisdom, and hearty humanity.' The controversy was over the choice -: 'Marriage or Celibacy?' - faced by middle-class youth trying to reconcile economic facts with moral values, social customs - and love. The arena was the correspondence page of a newspaper just establishing itself as the most successful London daily through its appeal to the...

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1995 SOFTCOVER Brand new. [I will ship immediately] Book in great condition: no markings, slightly worn covers and edges, nice binding.

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Overview

In July 1868 the Daily Telegraph congratulated itself on providing the arena for a controversy marked by 'good sense, liveliness, practical wisdom, and hearty humanity.' The controversy was over the choice -: 'Marriage or Celibacy?' - faced by middle-class youth trying to reconcile economic facts with moral values, social customs - and love. The arena was the correspondence page of a newspaper just establishing itself as the most successful London daily through its appeal to the middle-class reader.

Public attention was first caught by a court report of a failed attempt to entrap a Belgian girl into prostitution. This induced blistering editorial comment and angry letters to the paper deploring ineffectual controls over the 'Great Social Evil.' The next development was unusual for the Victorian press: readers began to write extensive and richly varied comment on the root of the problem - young people did not have in possession or expectation enough money or the right qualifications for marriage. The Telegraph initiated a new form of popular journalism by filling its correspondence columns for almost a month with readers' letters under the heading 'Marriage or Celibacy?', which they supplemented with lengthy leading articles.

John Robson places in contemporary context the central issues facing Victorian youth: What is a proper marriage? How to balance income and expenditure? What are the ideal qualities of young women and men? 'Emigration or starvation?' In examining these debates, he looks closely into methods of argument, connecting rhetorical techniques with public persuasion. The letters being a special kind of discourse, he shows how in the debates rhetorical and logical arguments are specifically designed to persuade the Telegraph's readers.

Marriage or Celibacy? contributes to our knowledge of Victorian manners and mores, particularly among the lower middle-class, and is a telling episode to the history of popular journalism.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
An extensive series of news accounts, leading articles, and letters to the editor, most of the last under the heading "Marriage or Celibacy?", appeared in the London newspaper, the Daily Telegraph, in June and July 1868. Making abundant use of direct quotations, the author presents an analysis of the debate, which focused on prostitution, its causes and cures; ideal and practical marriage; and emigration, its promises and dangers. The result is a fascinating picture of the era's middle class family life and morals. Paper edition (unseen), $29.95. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802077981
  • Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division
  • Publication date: 4/19/1995
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 366
  • Product dimensions: 6.02 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 1.09 (d)

Meet the Author

The late John M. Robson was professor emeritus, University of Toronto, and General and Textual Editor of the Collected Works of John Stuart Mill.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction 3
1 The Great Social Evil 10
2 Marriage or Celibacy? The Daily Telegraph Series 26
3 Marriage and Mores: Arguments and Practices 45
4 "The Equation of Income and Expenditure" 95
5 Celibates and Celibacy 139
6 Problems and Solutions: The Ways In and the Way Out 165
7 Emigration or Starvation? 194
8 Conclusions 241
Appendix A The Correspondents 269
Appendix B Budgets 288
Appendix C Comparison of the Expenditures in "Marriage or Celibacy?" and Other Sources 299
Notes 303
General Index 349
Index of Correspondents 360
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