A Magazine of Her Own?: The Woman's Magazine 1800-1914 by Margaret Beetham

By Margaret Beetham

Just like the corset, the women's magazines which emerged within the 19th century produced a `natural' suggestion of femininity: the household spouse; the trendy lady; the romancing and fascinating woman. Their legacy, from suffering aunts to model plates, are simply traced of their smooth opposite numbers. yet do those magazines and their provides empower or disempower their readers? of Her personal? is a full of life and revealing exploration of this immensely renowned shape from its beginnings. In interesting element Margaret Beetham investigates the needs, photos and interpretations of femininity posed by way of a medium whose readership was once and nonetheless is nearly solely lady. of Her personal is right away a chronological tracing of the historical past, a suite of exciting case reviews and an intervention into contemporary debates approximately gender and sexuality in renowned examining. it's a e-book which a person who's drawn to the original, influential international of the woman's journal - scholars, students and normal readers alike - probably want to learn

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2 Such patronage died out as press entrepreneurs moved to selling cheaper papers in greater numbers. Nevertheless, this alternative symbolism of royalty and the court remained. The anomalous figure of the female monarch—both model mother and courtly lady—was reworked in women’s magazines throughout Victoria’s reign. THE BEAUTY AND THE FASHIONABLE The older ladies’ magazines and their versions of the courtly lady were in decline, however. In 1832 the Lady’s Magazine and the Lady’s Museum merged and La Belle Assemblée was relaunched as the Court Magazine and Belle Assemblée with Caroline Norton as editor (Perkins 1910:46).

All these impinge upon the creation of the woman’s magazine as leisure reading and the creation of the leisured woman who read it. The purchase of an expensive magazine on a regular basis and the time and space in which to read it assume material prosperity, but the magazine was involved in a gendering of the concept of leisure which gave a new meaning to that material privilege and in turn created new forms of wealth production, not least in the publishing industry. Since the middle-class woman was distinguished from the middle-class man by her exclusion from ‘work’, leisure—always a marker of class—‘became also a marker of gender’ (Shevelow, 1989:55).

Women were addressed specifically as readers but they were also active as writers and editors. ‘Womanliness’ or femininity was installed as a crucial topic for discussion. Thus women were simultaneously positioned as consumers and producers of these texts and as objects of their analysis (Adburgham 1972; Ballaster et al. 1991; Shevelow 1989). The meaning of this feminised space was ambiguous, however. Steele’s double edged compliment dismissed women’s interest as ‘tattle’ while it made the figure of the ‘Tatler’ 18 THE MAKING OF THE MAGAZINE, 1800–50 stand for the whole readership.

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