Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine

Although Andrew Lang’s contributions to Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine were by no means as regular as his contributions to other periodicals such as the Daily News, Longman’s, The Illustrated London News, and The Morning Post, Lang’s association with Blackwood’s is a particularly fascinating study because Lang’s correspondence with William Blackwood III is preserved at the National Library of Scotland. Lang’s name also appears in Blackwood’s correspondence with others, for example, Margaret Oliphant, and her executors Annie Coghill and Denny Oliphant. (I discuss some of this correspondence in an article for Victorian Periodicals Review from Summer 2017: “Lasting Ephemera: Margaret Oliphant and Andrew Lang on Lives and Letters.”)

Lang wrote many mainly signed articles in Blackwood’s, at a time when approximately half the articles appearing there were anonymous. He was also wrote some biographies for Blackwood and a four-volume Scottish history, originally intended to come out in one volume. The frontispieces to Lang’s history show that, when the first volume was published, two were intended, and when the second volume was published, three were intended. When the third volume was published, the publishers omitted speculating on the final number of volumes, though they wrote “in four volumes” when the fourth volume came out.

In the information on Lang’s articles that follow, I have added a link to the Internet Archive scan of bound copies of Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine whenever possible. Please let me know if you find an Internet Archive link to months not listed here. The Online Books Page by U Penn has made a helpful list of available Blackwood’s volumes on various full-text sites. I use the Internet Archive site because it is available to users outside of the United States as well as inside.

Lang’s Contributions to Blackwood’s

Andrew Lang’s first contribution to Blackwood’s was a poem, “The Old Love and the New” on golf and cricket, contributed in June of 1889, which inspired sports enthusiast Horace Hutchinson’s longer article “Cricket v. Golf. A Comparison” in April of 1890.

In July of 1892, Lang contributed “The Jacobite Lord Ailesbury.” “Scandal About Queen Elizabeth” was published in February of 1893, “Ghosts up to Date” in January of 1894, “Ghosts before the Law” in February of 1894, the poem “How They Held the Bass for King James” in March of 1894, “Did Junius commit Suicide?” in March of 1895, and “The Mystery of the Queen’s Marie,” in September of 1895.

No articles by Lang appeared in 1896, though his Life of John Gibson Lockhart was reviewed anonymously in November of 1896 by Margaret Oliphant. Lang wrote to both Blackwood and Oliphant after the review was published, and the minor brouhaha it occasioned also seems to have led Lang to become a more regular contributor the the magazine, with five articles appearing in 1897: “The Bishop’s Plot” (January), “The Celtic Renascence” (February), “Marlborough’s Unconscious Treason” (June), “The Truth about Fisher’s Ghost” (July), “Ker of Kersland, Cameronian, Jacobite, and Spy” (December).

In February 1898 Lang published “Queen Oglethorpe,” which was co-written with Alice Shield and signed A.S. A.L. [As is clear from Lang’s correspondence with William Blackwood III on the matter, Lang would have preferred for Alice Shield’s name alone to appear, evidently from charitable motives. See “Lasting Ephemera” in the Summer 2017 VPR.] Under his own name (A. Lang), Lang published “The Truth about the Cardinal’s Murder” [Cardinal Beaton] (March), “Murray of Broughton” (August), and “A Creeful of Celtic Stories” (December).

His poem “Our Fathers” (on Scott, Wilson, Lockhart, and Hogg) opened Blackwood’s double-length 1000th number in February of 1899. In April he contributed the anonymous review, “A New History of Scotland” [on Hume Brown’s history]. (Until March of 1900, almost all of Lang’s work in Blackwood’s is signed A. Lang. I make a note if this is not the case. Starting in April of 1900, Lang’s signature is Andrew Lang. In July of 1901, Lang’s name first appears at the beginning of articles instead of at the end.) In August 1899 Lang contributed “History as she ought to be wrote.”)

In March 1900, Lang contributed “The Evolution of Literary Decency,” in which he asked why the British reading public had “become so dainty between Smollett’s death (1771) and the rise of Mrs Radcliffe (1789)? . . . . Those persons are very young and ill-informed who think that the change is “Early Victorian.” That theory, if correct, would be intelligible; but the revolution was really late Georgian: it arose in an age of heavy courtly licence,—an age when popular life was nearly as rough as it had been in 1740. Yet quite a large class of topics was now banished, not only from books, but from conversation between the sexes” (367). Lang is uncertain of the reason, but surmises that perhaps “the change was caused by the rise of a larger reading middle class, especially by the increase in the numbers of women of the middle classes, and in the country, who read books. They had not hitherto been literary: they had simply been housewives and stitchers; good mothers, not bookish. At no time had their class been so free, in conduct or conversation, as the women in “Society” and in London. What they avoided in life, they disliked in literature. They now began to get into contact with literature through book clubs” (368).  Lang further postulated that “on the whole, the most obvious and probable cause of the sharp and sudden revolution of taste was probably what we may call the Wesleyan Reformation acting on the middle classes far beyond the bounds of the Wesleyan communion. Wesley’s movement was really (though he did not know it) part of the Romantic movement: it begin in an asceticism, and in an emotion, and in ‘supernormal experiences’ after the model of the ideals of the ideals of the medieval Church. . . . But these hypotheses may be inadequate or erroneous, in which case the problem becomes vastly more curious and interesting” (369). “Henceforward [from Scott] every hero was a Galahad, till Mr Rochester broke away from the rule and Richard Feverel fell into the ancient errors of Captain Booth” (370).

In April of 1900, Lang contributed “Scotland and Mr. Goldwin Smith,” and, in December, “The Casket Letters.”

In July of 1901 (vol. 170), he contributed “A Gentleman of Scotland” (pp. 94–105) which, as noted above, was the first Blackwood’s article in which Lang’s name appears in a byline rather than at the end of the article. In October (vol. 170), he contributed “Games in Old and Modern France” (pp. 484–491).

In April of 1902 (vol. 171), he contributed “A New Reading of the Gowrie Mystery” (pp. 480–92).

In July of 1903, Lang contributed “A Christian Under the Covenant” (vol. 174, pp. 41–53). (Finkelstein 287)

In April of 1905, Lang contributed “The Scottish Religious Revolution (History versus Tradition)” (vol. 177, pp. 532–43). In October, Lang contributed “My History Vindicated,” which appears on pages 477–495 of vol. 178 of the magazine. In December of 1905 (vol. 178), Lang contributed “The Tweed,” pp. 833–840 (Finkelstein 287).

In July of 1907 (vol. 182) Lang contributed “New Light on Mary Queen of Scots” (pp. 17–27).

“Homer and the Critics” appeared in volume 183 in January 1908 on pages 76–93.

“The Sisters of Golf (Pall-mall)” appeared in October of 1909 (vol. 186, pp. 508–15).

“Betty Barnes the Cook” appeared in February of 1910 (vol. 187, pp. 231–41). “The Mystery of ‘Auld Maitland'” appeared in June (vol. 187, pp. 872–80). The American edition is available from Internet Archive.

“The Mystery of Edwin Drood”/”A Mystery of Dickens” (Finkelstein) appeared in May 1911, vol. 189, pp. 670–81. The American edition is available from Internet Archive.

“The Tobermory Galleon” appeared in March 1912, vol. 191, pp. 422–36. The American edition is available from Internet Archive.

It is also worth noting that Lang’s wife, Leonora Blanche Lang, contributed five articles to Blackwood’s, the last four from 1911–1913: Her first article with Blackwood’s was written in 1893: “Paris theatres from 1750-1790.” Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine 153 (April 1893): 522–31 [Wellesley Index]. She also wrote “The Recollections of Baron de Freilly” (vol. 190, October 1911, pp. 533–544, unsigned); “Pitfalls for Collectors” (vol. 191, February 1912, pp. 201–14, Signed Mrs Andrew Lang); “The Wife of Benedict Arnold” (Vol. 192, October 1912, pp. 469–84, Signed “Mrs Andrew Lang”); and “The Bookseller of the Rue St. Jacques” (Vol. 193, June 1913, pp. 832–43, Signed “Mrs Andrew Lang”). See Finkelstein p. 287. (I link to the American editions of the magazine.)

Return to the list of known periodicals to which Lang contributed.
Learn more about Lang’s contributions to The Author, Folk-Lore, Longman’s Magazine, and The Morning Post.

Works Consulted

Blackwood Papers, National Library of Scotland.

Finkelstein, David. An Index to Blackwood’s Magazine, 1901–1980. Aldershot: Scolar Press, 1995, p. 287.

Green, Roger Lancelyn. Andrew Lang: A Critical Biography. Leicester: Edmund Ward, 1946.

Langstaff, B. Meredith. “Andrew Lang articles: [a bibliography compiled by B. Meredith Langstaff]” [New York: B. M. Langstaff, 1956.]

Langstaff, Eleanor De Selms. Andrew Lang. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1978.

The Wellesley Index. Proquest.