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Cover of English Studies

English Studies

Volume 96, Issue 4, May 2015
Pages 424-443

  • DOI: 10.1080/0013838X.2015.1011893
  • Print ISSN: 0013-838X
  • Online ISSN: 1744-4217

Between Fashion and Feminism: History in Mid-Victorian Women's Magazines

The article offers a first exploration of the contribution of women's magazines to mid-Victorian historical culture. Distinguished by a special heterogeneity in form and content, magazines showcase the diversity of historical culture and highlight its contested positions and contradictions. The tensions between conservative ideals and progressive alternatives that marked the debate about the “woman question” also characterise Victorian approaches to women's history. This is shown for a sample of middle-class women's magazines published between 1850 and 1880: the Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine, the Ladies’ Treasury and the Queen, all three being market-leading publications, and, for comparison, the feminist English Woman's Journal. It will be asked what areas of history the magazines address, how they utilise these areas to negotiate the social position of women as well as models of femininity, and how their presentation of history relates to dominant male-biased strands of historiography.