Cassell’s Family Magazine, later Cassell’s Magazine (1874-1910)
50 vols.: December 1874-November 1897 Cassell’s Family Magazine; December 1897-October 1910 Cassell’s Magazine. Issued monthly; cumulated in yearly volumes until November 1896 and in six monthly volumes thereafter. Vol.47 cumulates five monthly issues however. Cassell’s Magazine ceased publication in 1932. Proprietors: 1874-1878 Cassell, Petter & Galpin 1878-1883 Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Company 1883-1910 Cassell & Company Limited Editors: 1874-1896 Bonavia Hunt 1896-1905 Max Pemberton 1905-1906 David Williamson 1906-1910 Walter Smith (Smith remained as editor until March 1912)
Between 1874 and 1910 Cassell’s Family Magazine, later Cassell’s Magazine, introduced to readers in the then British Empire two fictional characters who have captured the public imagination over several generations: amateur cracksman and gentleman cricketer, A.J. Raffles (In the Chains of Crime, 1898), and Kim (1901). Cassell’s failure to nurture its connections with their creators, E.W. Hornung and Rudyard Kipling, was symptomatic of both the timidity, snobbery and niggardliness of management policies which hampered editorial initiative and a heritage of rigid publishing values which eventually led to a deep trough in the firm’s fortunes between 1905 and 1912.1 After having issued Irralie’s Bushranger (Hornung’s first Stingaree story) as a supplement to Cassell’s Family Magazine and having published in book form three of Hornung’s novels and a volume of short stories, Cassell’s management did not take up the book rights to In the Chains of Crime. Methuen secured those rights, publishing the episodic novel as The Amateur Cracksman. Hornung’s next series of Raffles stories, A Thief in the Night, was published in Pall Mall Magazine; his subsequent Stingaree stories were secured by the market-leading Strand Magazine. Max Pemberton regarded his securing of the serial rights to Kipling’s novel as an editorial coup, but Cassell’s board of management remonstrated with him that it would be too highbrow for the magazine’s traditional working-class and lower middle-class readership and haggled with the well-established and popular Kipling over the 1850 payment for serial rights. To cope with increased demand Cassell’s had to print larger runs of issues containing instalments of Kim, but the book rights to the novel went to Macmillan. Cassell’s mishandling of Hornung and Kipling (and surely other authors whose difficulties are less well documented) contrasts sharply with the practices of The Strand Magazine, which treated its popular authors very generously. In the 1890s and 1900s Cassell’s was slow in adapting to changing community standards, newer magazine styles, and high financial rewards for popular writers. Cassell’s Magazine in this period continued in many ways to reflect the conservative and pious mid-Victorian morality of its founder, John Cassell, its longest serving editor, the Reverend Herbert George Bonavia Hunt, and the ‘grey beards’ on the company’s Board. Cassell’s Family Magazine started life in December 1853 as Cassell’s Illustrated Family Paper. The indexes to fiction published in it commence, though, when the magazine began to be issued in monthly rather than weekly parts (December 1874) and close at the end of the Edwardian period. John Cassell, founder of the Family Paper, was, like the publishers William and Robert Chambers and Charles Knight, concerned to issue publications which would, in his view, improve the moral, social and intellectual well-being of the working classes. Before the Select Committee on Newspaper Stamps in 1851 he testified:
I am one of those individuals who have sprung from the working classes; I have associated with them, and I know their sympathies well, and the position in which I am placed as a publisher has made me acquainted with the tendency of their minds, and also the tendency of our literature [to deprave]…. The people want cheap publications, but they will not take what is termed a namby-pamby literature.2
The rigidity of his social and literary values is suggested by his magazine formulae. In fiction Cassell’s tastes were austere and moralistic, supportive of the Protestant work ethic and reflective of the social complacency of many a ‘self-made’, self-educated religious man: he appreciated tales ‘ennobling and pure, in the place of that which is corrupting and false’,3 tales ‘illustrative of the triumph of religion, temperance, morality, industry, energy a^d self-control over idleness, apathy, intemperance and habitual self-indulgence’.4 The triumph of the former qualities would guarantee, he believed, upward social mobility on an individual level and the furtherance of true Christian principles. For The Quiver, a fundamentalist Protestant family magazine that he also published, Cassell demanded ‘one article to address the intellect, one full of gushing feeling addressed to the heart, one literary, and one juvenile tale’ (Nowell-Smith, p. 127). This formula reflects Cassell’s publishing priorities: firstly cultivation of intellect through reading to acquire knowledge, then evangelical sentimentalism, improving fiction for adults, and finally improving fiction for children. Cassell’s Illustrated Family Paper (1853-1867) published undistinguished fiction by Percy B. St. John, John Frederick Smith, Francis H. Keppel, Captain Mayne Reid, Harriet Beecher Stowe (Cassell having met her through his vigorous temperance campaigning), Anthony Trollope, and Alexander Dumas and Octave Feuillet in translation. The magazine owed its success in this period to its low price and its many illustrations printed from electrotypes procured from the Paris office of L’Illustration. Its illustrations of the Crimean War, in particular, proved very popular. Within two years of John Cassell’s death the firm of Cassell, Petter and Galpin, proprietors of Cassell’s Illustrated Family Paper, realised that in order for it to compete more effectively with Charles Dickens’ All the Year Round a change of style was needed: its name was changed to Cassell’s Magazine in 1867; a succession of new editors was brought in; and efforts to attract writers of circulating library renown were made. As book publishers Cassell, Petter and Galpin had always catered for the stationer’s shop and bookstall trade rather than the circulating libraries. Between 1869 and 1872 Cassell’s Magazine was to carry serials by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, Wilkie Collins and Charles Reade. Simon Nowell-Smith, the official historian of the Cassell company, suggests that the strife surrounding publication of Reade’s A Terrible Temptation and Collins’ Poor Miss Finch may well have contributed to the company’s decision in 1874 to return Cassell’s Magazine to its ‘proper mill-pond of “family” mediocrity’ (p. 125). The publication of these serials had brought the firm loss of an important retail account, public outcry, a brush with Reade over censorship, and trouble with Collins over Smith’s refusal to order adequate stock of his novel in three-decker form – a refusal which forced Cassell, Petter and Galpin to drop mention of Collins’ serial from their advertisement of the half-yearly volume of Cassell’s Magazine. With the December 1874 number a newly appointed editor of the rechristened Cassell’s Family Magazine, to appear in monthly parts, was entrusted to provide the magazine’s readers with ‘a dead level of romance and adventure, varied at most by sociological purpose but never touched with inspiration’ (Nowell-Smith, p. 125). The management’s choice of Herbert George Bonavia Hunt as the new editor guaranteed a return to the piety and conservatism of the magazine in John Cassell’s day. The eighteen-year-old Hunt had jointed Cassell, Petter and Galpin in 1865 as sub-editor of The Quiver; within six months he had taken over editorship of this earnest publication which endeavoured, in John Cassell’s words, to ‘make men feel the reality of religious things: of God, of their Duty to Him, of Eternity’ (Nowell-Smith, pp. 250-251). Hunt was a man well able to accommodate that vision. He was brought up by strict Nonconformist grandparents, and his religious commitment was eventually to lead to his taking orders in the Church of England in 1878 and to a series of positions as curate and vicar, held until 1905 in conjunction with various Cassell’s editorships. John Cassell would, too, have approved Hunt’s efforts at self-improvement through community leadership, reading, musical discipline and formal education. By the time Hunt took over Cassell’s Magazine in 1874 he had founded and was first warden of Trinity College, London, a position he held from 1872 until 1892. After studying for university entrance while at Cassell’s, he took his Mus.B. at Christ Church, Oxford in 1876 and his Mus.D. at Trinity College, Dublin in 1887. By 1874 Hunt had had published The Golden Gate and Other Stories (1870) and An Initiatory Inquiry into the Philosophy of Beauty (1871). Later he would have published in the Cambridge School and College Text Book series A Concise History of Music from the Commencement of the Christian Era to the Present Time (a book which went through many editions and various revisions). A collection of his sermons was published in 1884. His scholarship in music was recognised in his appointment as a teacher of musical history at the University of London from 1900 until 1907. Hunt was also to found and be first warden of Kilburn Grammar School.5 The esteem in which Cassell’s Board held Hunt is amply demonstrated by his long tenure of the editorships of The Quiver (1865-1905) and Cassell’s Family Magazine (1874-1896) and his founding editorship of Little Folks (1871-1875). Hunt encouraged his readers to practical charitable Christianity. A retrospective glance at his editorship of The Quiver shows that he devoted one page to the charity drives he organised, a Quiver tradition begun by John Cassell, and two paragraphs to the literary side of the magazine. An initiative of John Cassell’s renewed by Hunt in Cassell’s Family Magazine was the offering of small prizes of money and publication in literary competitions for his readers. (John Cassell earns a place in the history of Victorian publishing for the working class for having actually published the writing of his working-class readers as part of the prize in such competitions. The price of Cassell’s Family Magazine – it peaked at 7d. – would have put it beyond the reach of many working-class families however.) One feature of Hunt’s editorship of Cassell’s Family Magazine which perhaps surprises is his running of various pieces on employment for women. The very first number of Cassell’s Family Magazine he edited contains a piece titled ‘Women Who Work: The Hospital Nurse’; a series of articles in 1890 usually titled ‘Employments for Gentlewomen’ offered sound practical advice on careers in medicine, dental surgery, chiropody, piano tuning (a career reportedly hampered by few openings), shorthand reporting, typing, dressmaking, massage and cooking. Hunt’s low-key promotion of women in the workforce might reflect a social awareness that many lower-middle-class women, a large part of his readership, were compelled to earn a living or, and probably also, his endorsement of the Protestant work ethic. A graphically illustrated article in the first number he edited, ‘Drawn from the Life I – The Unemployed’, clearly depicts the slide of an idle person into depravity and slovenliness. Writing in 1958 Nowell-Smith asserts that the only readable fiction published during Hunt’s editorship is that written by writers for boys like George Manville Fenn (p. 121). Certainly few of the individual authors published in Cassell’s Family Magazine would repay detailed research and criticism in their own right. The magazine’s most regular serialists were John Berwick Harwood, Frank Barrett, Florence Warden and Arabella Hopkinson. Nowadays the best-known authors to have had stories published in Cassell’s Family Magazine are Arthur Conan Doyle, Grant Allen, and, in Australia, Ada Cambridge: their contributions, though, were not extensive. Victorian scholars might find the fiction published in Cassell’s Family Magazine of value in investigating the ideologies of the family and the courtship romance genre, the conventions and formulae of popular moral fiction, lower-middle-class and working-class reading, and semi-religious publishing. The Board of Cassell’s initially underestimated the potential impact of the spectacular successes of their new rivals in the 1890s, The Strand Magazine, Windsor Magazine and Pearson’s Magazine. In November 1894 they were forced to reduce the price of Cassell’s Family Magazine from 7d. to 6d., the price of The Strand Magazine. The move did not recapture Cassell’s Family Magazine‘s lost market share; Sir Georg Newnes, the founder of The Strand Magazine, identified a major problem of Cassell’s Family Magazine in describing it as inadequate to the changed spirit of the times (Nowell-Smith, p. 131). By 1896 the fortunes of Cassell’s Family Magazine were perceived to be desperate enough for the Board of Cassell’s to take the editorship from Bonavia Hunt and offer it to Max Pemberton, who had successfully revamped the boys’ magazine Chums for Cassell’s in 1892 and who was a popular writer of fiction for boys, his first success having been The Iron Pirate (1894). The son of a rice broker, Pemberton had been educated at Merchant Taylors’ School and Caius College, Cambridge. His tentative plans for a career at the bar had been abandoned for casual journalism at the instigation of his close personal friend, Alfred Harmsworth, later Viscount Northcliffe. The pair shared rooms early in their journalism careers and indeed the first copy of Harmsworth’s Answers was sold to Pemberton, the paper’s ‘Mr Answers’. Pemberton’s familiarity with the new journalism ushered in by Harmsworth must have impressed the Cassell’s Board when they deliberated about offers of editorships to him. Northcliffe would later allow his influence to be used to help Pemberton establish the London School of Journalism in 1920 – this was apparently Britain’s first professional school for journalists.6 As the story surrounding Cassell’s Magazine‘s publication of Kim indicates, Pemberton’s editorial initiatives were hampered by the conservatism of Cassell’s Board. The editorial announcement in December 1895 of changes in the format of Cassell’s Family Magazine, thenceforth to be known as Cassell’s Magazine, is wary of giving offence. It stresses that the ‘guiding traditions’ of the magazine’s history – its niche in hearth and home, its moral conservatism and its standard of illustration – would be insulated from new fashions and announces an expansion from 80 to 112 pages. It also, however, points to efforts to achieve a wider general appeal; Pemberton strove to achieve that appeal principally through provision of adventure, crime, historical and mystery romances. When the morality of a story might alarm readers not diverted by the gusto of the telling, illustration (and possibly titles) could be used to allay their fears. The illustrated heading to Hornung’s In the Chains of Crime (reproduced on p. ii) is a case in point. Pemberton’s own literary ambitions are sufficiently indicated by H.W. Massingham’s review which successfully launched The Iron Pirate: it hailed Pemberton as ‘The Lost Liar Found’, an allusion to Oscar Wilde’s denunciation of realism and elegiac celebration of ‘the wit to exaggerate’, ‘the genius J:o romance’ and the limitations of probability in his essay ‘The Decay of Lying.’7 During his editorship of Cassell’s Magazine, which lasted until the death in 1905 of Cassell’s general manager Sir Wemyss Reid, an ally and mentor, Pemberton was to write nineteen novels and many short stories. The five novels serialised in Cassell’s Magazine are distinguished by liveliness and some novelty in handling the formulae of adventure romance rather than by wit, genius and courage and he can manage a sprightly style. David Williamson, who worked in the Cassell’s Magazine office during Pemberton’s editorship wrote of him that: ‘He came into the office like a breeze from the Atlantic, and his light-hearted vivacity brightened the whole day.’8 Bret Harte and Stephen Crane, both past their literary prime; William Le Queux, the writer of detective and spy romances; Halliwell Sutcliffe, writer of popular historical romances; Gertrude Atherton; empire writers Guy Boothby and Louis Becke; and L.T. Meade and Robert Eustace, the successful mystery writing partnership, were introduced to Cassell’s Magazine readers during Pemberton’s editorship. Despite the momentum gained under Pemberton’s editorship the magazine had not fared as well against its rivals as the Board hoped. The cheaper London Magazine was a new threat. David Williamson, an experienced journalist, popular biographer, writer of tracts for the Religious Tract Society, and Bonavia Hunt’s successor as editor of The Quiver, was offered the editorship of Cassell’s Magazine after Pemberton’s resignation; Williamson, though, was to step down from the position in 1906. His reminiscences of his editorship record frustration at dealing with William Le Queux over episodes of The Spider’s Eye: Williamson had had to ‘threaten to go to press without them unless he [Le Queux] sent the matter at once. A messenger would be requisitioned to fetch the story from Le Queux when he was staying at the Savoy Hotel, and in the lounge the lad would wait while the author scribbled the last few pages’ (Williamson, p. 178). Under this sort of pressure Le Queux could produce 4,000 words in four hours but the state of the manuscripts distressed Williamson – errors of spelling and grammar, confusions between the names of characters and Le Queux’s alteration of the name of the hero half-way through the story called for meticulous last-minute editing. In casting about for another new editor Cassell’s Board settled on James Walter Smith, an American journalist and American editor of The Strand Magazine. The editorial flair which contributed to the success of The Strand Magazine in the United States did not extend to Smith’s conduct of Cassell’s Magazine: its sales slipped steadily to 34,000 copies at a time when the proprietor of The London Magazine worried about a circulation of 300,000 and The Strand Magazine consistently sold in excess of 500,000 copies. One reason for falling sales was undoubtedly staleness – Max Pemberton was still Cassell’s Magazine‘s leading serialist. In 1912 Cassell’s Board invited one of the company’s most successful editors, Walter Newman Flower, to produce a dummy for a revamped Cassell’s Magazine. Walter Smith resigned the editorship and Newman Flower became editor of Cassell’s Magazine of Fiction, each issue of which promised 260 pages comprising a 30,000 word novel, about 20 stories, four or five illustrated articles and a fully illustrated fashion section. A lower price of 5d. was announced. The same success which had attended Flower’s editorship of The Storyteller was to attend his conduct of Cassell’s Magazine of Fiction. Later, still under the directorship of Newman Flower, Cassell’s sold Cassell’s Magazine of Fiction, along with its other magazine interests, in 1926. In the Edwardian period Cassell’s Magazine editors certainly encouraged the staples of popular periodical fiction – direct narrative, suspense and relatively uncomplicated characters. Cassell’s Magazine‘s comparative standing at this time may he gauged by the range of publications in which the renowned literary agent J.B. Pinker placed the second-rate stories collected in Joseph Conrad’s A Set of Six and the inferior stories Henry Lawson wrote in London. The former appeared in Cassell’s Magazine, Pall Mall Magazine, the Daily Chronicle and Harper’s Magazine; the latter in Black and White, Outlook, Onlooker, Cassell’s Magazine, Chambers’s Journal and a couple of unidentified others. Cassell’s Magazine was of middling quality, avoiding the merely sensational and willing to publish stories enlivened by small doses of subtlety, for example, Vance Palmer’s ‘The Little Typewriter Girl’ which plays on the sentimentality of its characters and readers to expose the false basis of sentimentality. Edwardian scholars would be able to use the fiction published in Cassell’s Magazine to extend or correct bibliographies of individual authors, for Cassell’s Magazine attracted writers better known today than those published in Cassell’s Family Magazine; the fiction could also be used to trace the development of adventure, detective, spy and mystery romance and the openings for empire writers in London, which were in fact quite fair, contrary to established scholarly opinion in Australia at least. The fiction in Cassell’s Family Magazine and Cassell’s Magazine appeared alongside articles of general interest. The December 1874 number contained, for instance, in addition to those on nursing and the unemployed, pieces on such topics as dress, cooking, sport in Albania, life on an emigrant ship, Christmas decorations, and the postman. In a regular ‘The Gatherer’ section paragraphs on popular scientific, technological and technical topics were published, ‘The Gatherer’ for December 1874 containing, for instance, paragraphs on Fog Signals and Sounds at Sea, Typhoid Fever and Disinfectants, Sea-Sickness and its Cure and Antipathies to Flowers. The information conveyed in ‘The Gatherer’ generally had some practical applications. Gradually some paragraphs of literary news began to appear there. By December 1900 the articles of general interest were less immediately domestic – ‘Christmas in Old London’, ‘The Prince of Wales’ Horses’, ‘Ice Boats and Ice Boating’, ‘Christmas at the Front: A Reminiscence of Christmas at Modder River’, ‘The Inky Cloak: Legislators and Their Garments’ and ‘Old Drury’ – and ‘The Gatherer’ had been rechristened ‘Something New.’ Controversy was scrupulously avoided. Cassell’s Family Magazine, later Cassell’s Magazine, never achieved great popular success, but until the 1890s the proprietory company might have been satisfied that the magazine was performing satisfactorily in meeting the perceived moral and social needs of its readers. Even moralising, cosy domesticity and social complacency must continue to pay its way though, and in the 1890s and 1900s when Cassell’s realised that tough, new competition made a change of style mandatory, it acted slowly and overcautiously, clinging to its rapidly out dating ‘guiding traditions’, and always content to react rather than lead in the marketplace.
A NOTE ON PSEUDONYMS AND ATTRIBUTIONS
Unless otherwise indicated the sources for identification of pseudonyms and for attributions are the British Museum Catalogue, Halkett and Laing’s Dictionary of Anonymous and Pseudonymous English Literature, the Wellesley Index, and Bruce Nesbitt and Susan Hadfield’s Australian Literary Pseudonyms: An Index (Adelaide: Library Board of South Australia, 1972).
- In 1892 George Newnes Ltd., publisher of The Strand Magazine, declared a dividend of 10% on assets of £400,000 and Cassell and Co. 10% on assets of £500,000; in 1905 George Newnes Ltd. was able to declare a dividend of 10% on assets of £1,000,000 while Cassell’s declared no dividend at all. By 1905 editors of Cassell’s cheaper and less prestigious publications were expected to commission struggling authors to write stories around old picture-blocks dating from 1870 and stored in an appropriately nicknamed cliche department. By 1912 one leading agent would not offer book manuscripts to Cassell’s because ‘the terms offered by Cassell’s were so low, and even at that the haggling so acrimonious, that he could not be bothered with such a firm’. Simon Nowell-Smith, The House of Cassell 1848-1958 (London: Cassell & Co. Ltd, 1958), p. 177, p. 204; Newman Flower, Just As It Happened (London: Cassell, 1950), pp. 27-28. [↩]
- ‘Report of the Select Committee on Newspaper Stamps’, English Parliamentary Papers, 1851, XVII.I, p. 338. [↩]
- John Cassell in his Prospectus to a New Series of The Quiver in 1864 titled ‘Social, Intellectual and Religious Progress’, Appendix I, Nowell-Smith, p. 250. [↩]
- This prescription formed the criteria for entry in a literary competition conducted by Cassell in Cassell’s Illustrated Family Paper. Quoted by Nowell-Smith, p. 42. [↩]
- Sources of biographical information on Bonavia Hunt are Nowell-Smith, pp. 90-91; Hunt’s obituary in The Times Educational Supplement, 4 Oct. 1917, p. 382; and the British Museum Catalogue. [↩]
- Sources of biographical information on Max Pemberton are Reginald Pound and Geoffrey Harmsworth, Northcliffe (London: Cassell, 1959), passim; Max Pemberton, Sixty Years Ago and After (London: Heinemann, 1936); and the British Museum Catalogue. [↩]
- Oscar Wilde, ‘The Decay of Lying’ in his Intentions (1891); rpt. in Poems and Essays: Oscar Wilde, ed. Kingsley Amis (London & Glasgow: Collins, 1956), p. 253. [↩]
- David Williamson, Before I Forget: A Busy Life’s Harvest of Memories and Stories (London: Sampson Low, Marston & Co. Ltd, 1932), p. 176. [↩]