The Fortnightly Review

Chapman and Hall

General Description

Date: 1865-1954


◦ Everett, Edwin Mallard. The Party of Humanity: The Fortnightly Review and Its Contributors, 1865-1874. Chapel Hill: U.N.C. Press, 1939.

◦ Houghton, Walter, ed. The Fortnightly Review. The Wellesley Index to Victorian Periodicals, 1824-1900. Vol. 2. Toronto:Univ. of Toronto Press, 1966. pp.173-183.

◦ Sullivan, Alvin, ed. The Fortnightly Review. British Literary Magazines. vol. 3. Westport, CT:Greenwood Press, 1983-. pp.131-135.

Scholarly Commentary


The Fortnightly Review.London: [Chapman and Hall 1865-1931], [Horace Marshall 1931-1954].

Founded in 1865 by Anthony Trollope and associates (including Walter Bagehot, George Eliot, Frederic Harrison, T.H. Huxley, and G.H. Lewes), The Fortnightly Review became an influential fixture of late Victorian society, publishing important work on a variety of subjects from the pens of the best writers of the day. It began in reaction against the partiality of contemporary journalism, meaning to provide an open forum for the discussion of issues and ideas. The Fortnightly was also an early advocate of signed articles, a radical practice at the time. For its first year, it appeared twice a month at 2 shillings, and was published monthly thereafter.

As the Fortnightly's first editor, the brilliant and iconoclastic journalist and critic George Henry Lewes attracted many well-known writers while introducing a tone of liberalism that was to characterize the journal in perpetuity, despite its profession of impartiality. Lewes resigned due to poor health at the end of 1866, and the 28-year old John Morley assumed the editorship. The Fortnightly had lost money under Lewes, but Morley turned it around, increasing circulation to 2,500 by 1872 ( Houghton, 176 ). Also liberal in his sympathies, Morley published articles supporting reforms in education, labor relations, women's rights, and the church. Morley also encouraged new literary talent: “During the years 1865-1875 the Fortnightly published serially three novels by Trollope and two by Meredith, and poetry by Swinburne, Meredith, Rossetti, and Morris, among others” ( Sullivan, 132 ).

Morley eventually quarrelled with the more conservative publishers of the journal, and T.H.S. Escott took over in 1882. He made efforts to restore the balance of The Fortnightly's politics by encouraging contributions from conservatives. By 1886, Escott's health had declined and Frank Harris became the editor for eight years, during which time he attracted high quality submissions to the journal. As Houghton says, “almost every distinguished English writer and critic of the day was among his contributors” ( 180 ). Harris was also too liberal for The Fortnightly's directors, and he retired in 1894. Yet well into the 20th Century, The Fortnightly Review maintained its high standards of intellectual content, publishing Joyce, Yeats, and Pound under editor W.L. Courtney (1894-1928).

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