The Broadway Annual

George Routledge & Sons

General Description

Date: 1867-1868


◦ Altick, Richard D. The English Common Reader: A Social History of the Mass Reading Public 1800-1900. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1963.

◦ Ives, Maura C. “Descriptive Bibliography and the Victorian Periodical.” Studies in Bibliography 49 (1996): 61-94.

◦ Barnes, James J., and Patience P. Barnes. “Routledge, George.” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford UP, 2004-2007.

◦ Ellegård, Alvar. The Readership of the Periodical Press in Mid-Victorian Britain. Göteborg: Göteborgs Universitets Arsskrift, 63:3. 1957.

◦ Mumby, F. A. The House of Routledge 1834-1934. London: George Routledge & Sons, 1934.

◦ North, John, ed. “The Broadway Annual.” The Waterloo Directory of English Newspapers and Periodicals: 1800-1900. North Waterloo Academic Press.

◦ Peattie, Roger W., ed. Selected Letters of William Michael Rossetti. University Park: Pennsylvania State UP, 1990.

◦ Sutherland, John. The Longman Companion to Victorian Fiction. Burnt Hill, Engl.: Longman, 1988.

◦ Trollope, Anthony. “Introduction.” Saint Pauls 1 (1867-68): 1-7.

Scholarly Commentary

Guest Editor: Paul Fyfe


The Broadway Annual: A Miscellany of Original Literature in Poetry and Prose. London and New York: George Routledge & Sons, September 1867-August 1868. The Broadway: A London Magazine. New series. September 1868-July 1870. The Broadway: A London Magazine of Society and Politics. Second new series. August 1870-December 1872.

The Broadway Annual was, as its first subtitle suggests, “a miscellany of original literature in poetry and prose” founded and edited by Edmund Routledge (1844–1899). Modeling itself upon the Cornhill, Macmillan's, and the Belgravia, the Broadway tried to capitalize on the popularity during the 1860s of monthly periodicals, which, as Thackeray claimed, “afford to the reading public the greatest part of the modern literature which it demands” (2). Debuting along with Thackeray's Saint Pauls Magazine in 1867, The Broadway predominantly published serial fiction along with literary essays, poetry, and illustrations. It drew contributors from the stable of writers already publishing with George Routledge & Sons and the young Edmund Routledge vigorously pursued many more, including William Michael Rossetti and Algernon Swinburne. (WMR, in a letter to Swinburne, called The Broadway “[t]he most groveling of publications” [Peattie 181].) Other notable contributors included Henry Kingsley, W.S. Gilbert, Tom Hood, and Annie Thomas (a.k.a. Pendler Cudlip).

Having become a partner in his father's business in 1865, Edmund Routledge likely developed The Broadway to expand his editorial work beyond the company's successful reprints and magazines for children (Mumby). The Broadway—named for the address of its office on Ludgate-Hill—was published in London and New York, as George Routledge & Sons had a Manhattan office (416 Broome Street) for distribution and access to American writers (Sutherland 84; Barnes). The plan to include trans-Atlantic contents aimed to appeal to both markets. As the The Broadway claimed in a full-page advertisement in The Atheneaum (10 August 1867) just before its own debut, “It is our earnest desire that Britannia should shake hands with Columbia intellectually, and that both should shake hands with us financially” (189). The advertisement plays on the name Broadway, claiming itself as an “International magazine” that bows to the international spirit of the age. But Gohdes suggests that The Broadway remained “merely a London journal which devoted more than the average amount of space to American topics and which included a few [American] contributions” (60-61).

The pre-launch advertisement also hints at the magazine's perhaps unfocused editorial direction: “‘THE BROADWAY’ is our Title, and our Scheme is as broad as our Name”. Routledge wanted his magazine to be widely popular and made sure his prospectus had few sharp edges: “The tone of our periodical will be decidedly entertaining, recreative, and light: that is to say, we shall endeavour to be sociable without being frivolous; and if we occasionally aim at being instructive, we shall most scrupulously avoid being indigestible. Politics we shall eschew: politics being dull things, which few understand, and fewer still are any better for understanding” (189). With its “light” tone, Routledge's magazine casually dismisses the vogue for rational recreation and offers instead the polite but knowing pleasures of a cosmopolitan literary miscellany. Ellegård claims that the magazine's readership was “predominantly feminine” and middle class (33). The frontispiece of a bound copy of the magazine seems to illustrate this: a pair of well-dressed young women in a rose bower sharing an issue of The Broadway.

The Broadway demonstrated no particular affiliation with an aesthetic movement, but it did publish WMR's interesting exercise in applied Pre-Raphaelite poetics, “Mrs. Holmes Grey”. Routledge contacted WMR twice in 1867 to ask for his contributions, interested mostly in WMR's fame rather than in any of his particular works. However, unimpressed by the magazine's “broad scheme”, WMR declined Routledge's first offer, “instancing their prospectus as of itself enough to warn off any human writer”, as he wrote to Swinburne (Peattie 181). Routledge decided to shift his editorial policy and promised WMR in a second letter that The Broadway would seek out increasingly distinguished contributors. WMR consented, offering his long narrative poem “Mrs. Holmes Grey” and an article on John Ruskin (printed as “Ruskin as a Writer on Art” in March 1868). But WMR severed ties with the magazine in December 1867, annoyed by Routledge's irreverent treatment of Swinburne (Peattie 189).

Production History

The Broadway Annual was available to individual subscribers, booksellers, and libraries like Mudie's (Ellegård 33). Each monthly issue cost sixpence. Contributors received a standard £1 rate per page of prose (Peattie 182). The Broadway produced its first issue in September 1867 with a conspicuously large print run: 90,000 copies, according to the publisher's records. Altick points out that even the leading monthlies averaged a circulation of 15,000 or less (359). Unsurprisingly, The Broadway's numbers quickly fell: 50,000 by the second issue, 30,000 by the seventh, and 20,000 by the twelfth. Competition was intense. The Broadway did not win much esteem nor did its fortunes change with two subsequent new series. In September 1868, the magazine began a new series with a title perhaps better suited to its capacities, The Broadway: A London Magazine, also relaxing its attitude about political contents. A second new series began in August 1870, again with a different subtitle: A London Magazine of Society and Politics. Costs were cut, the number of pages and illustrations scaled back, and by 1869 printings dropped off to 4000-5000 copies per issue (see Ives for more, 90). The magazine was discontinued in December 1872; the January 1873 issue was its last.

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