Forget Me Not: The Rise of the British Literary Annual, 1823-1835

Forget Me Not: The Rise of the British Literary Annual, 1823-1835

by Katherine D. Harris


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By November 1822, the British reading public had already voraciously consumed both Walter Scott’s expensive novels and Rudolf Ackermann’s exquisite lithographs. The next decade, referred to by some scholars as dormant and unproductive, is in fact bursting with Forget Me Nots, Friendship’s Offerings, Keepsakes, and Literary Souvenirs. By wrapping literature, poetry, and art into an alluring package, editors and publishers saturated the market with a new, popular, and best-selling genre, the literary annual. In Forget Me Not, Katherine D. Harris assesses the phenomenal rise of the annual and its origins in other English, German, and French literary forms as well as its social influence on women, its redefinition of the feminine, and its effects on late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century print culture. Harris adopts an interdisciplinary approach that uses textual and social contexts to explore a forum of subversive femininity, where warfare and the masculine hero were not celebrated.

Initially published in diminutive, decoratively bound volumes filled with engravings of popularly recognized artwork and “sentimental” poetry and prose, the annuals attracted a primarily middle-class female readership. The annuals were released each November, making them an ideal Christmas gift, lover’s present, or token of friendship. Selling more than 100,000 copies during each holiday season, the annuals were accused of causing an epidemic and inspiring an “unmasculine and unbawdy age” that lasted through 1860 and lingered in derivative forms until the early twentieth century in both the United States and Europe. The annual thrived in the 1820s and after despite—or perhaps because of—its “feminine” writing and beautiful form.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780821421369
Publisher: Ohio University Press
Publication date: 04/28/2015
Series: Series in Victorian Studies Series
Pages: 410
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Katherine D. Harris an associate professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at San José State University, specializes in Romantic-era and nineteenth-century British literature, textual studies and history of the book, and digital humanities.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations vii

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction: The Sociology of the Literary 1

1 British Ingenuity from German Invention The Legacy of Rudolph Ackermann 27

2 A Family History of Albums, Anthologies, Almanacs, and Emblems 61

3 The First Generation s Success Forget Me Not, Friendship's Offering, and The Literary Souvenir 113

4 Second-Generation Annuals A Ballroom Filled with Debutants and Com The Keepsake and The Comic Annual 147

5 The Artistic Influence of the Annual's Engraving "Copyists" 170

6 Accumulating Profits or Constructing Taste Editorial Control of the Literary Annuals 188

7 Feminizing the Textual Body Women and Their Literary Annuals in Nineteenth-Century Britain 226

Conclusion The Literary Annual's Evolution from Nineteenth-Century Gothic to Twentieth-Century Homage 261

Appendix A Chronological Index of British and American Literary Annual Titles 280

Appendix B Prominent Contributors to British Literary Annuals 286

Appendix C Editors and Publishers of British Literary Annuals, 1823-31 321

Appendix D Full Text of Nineteenth-Century Writings from Chapters 3 and 4 327

Notes 335

Bibliography 355

Index 387

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