The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XIV. The Victorian Age, Part Two.

IV. The Growth of Journalism

§ 25. The Athenaeum

In specialised journalism, literature has always had a prominent place. In the first half of the eighteenth century, a weekly literary paper was founded entitled The Grub Street Journal, Alexander Pope being an early contributor. Its most notable successor, in the early part of the nineteenth century, was The Literary Gazette, established by William Jerdan, in 1817. George Crabbe, Mary Russell Mitford and Barry Cornwall wrote for it, and its career extended into the fifties. In 1828, it met an antagonist destined to win the first place—The Athenaeum. A full history of this long-lived literary paper has been written by the son of John Francis, who, at an early age, became associated with its business management. The Athenaeum, in 1830, was only struggling for existence when Charles Wentworth Dilke was placed in authority. The help given him by John Francis was of great value, but Dilke, in addition to being an enterprising proprietor, was, also, a man of letters, and, by his own writing, did much towards making secure the position of the paper. It would be impossible here to enumerate the nineteenth-century English writers who had more or less close connection with The Athenaeum and though, at various times, endeavours—such as those of The Reader and The Academy—have been made to depose it, these have not been attended with success.

Of journalism dealing with society in its many phases, much has been seen, not only in daily newspapers but, also, in specialised weekly publications. Of these, in the first half of the century, John Bull, which was also a political paper, became notorious, and was often threatened with prosecutions for libel, so much so that its chief conductors, Theodore Hook, R. H. Barham, T. Haynes Bayley and James Smith (of Rejected Addresses), sheltered themselves in an anonymity which prosecutors were not able to penetrate. In more recent years, The World, founded by Edmund Yates and Henry Labouchere, and Truth, launched by the latter after some disagreement with Yates, became celebrated by their daring criticisms.