The selection of six titles for the ncse edition out of the possible 30-50,000 estimated to have been published in the period by John North (in the Waterloo Directory ) is by definition somewhat arbitrary. Several objectives governed our choice. In so far as we were interested in the nature of the press itself and the cluster of journals, we were keen to choose titles that represented a variety of types of serial. We have included a newspaper as well as periodicals; frequencies vary: monthly, weekly, and fortnightly; titles emanate from the North as well as the South, and there are pictorial papers as well as non-illustrated titles. We have also tried to gender the cluster, showing the masculinity of the majority of the press and including an early feminist title.

The cluster comprises a selection of general periodicals, ‘class’ titles, and a trade paper, and the trade is publishing. Moreover, we have selected titles that together span the century, with a few overlaps. Many of these papers involve individual figures – editors or journalists - whose names are still recognisable to students of the nineteenth century: the Unitarian minister William J. Fox, the MP Feargus O’Connor, the journalist George Henry Lewes, the female activists Jessie Bourcherett and Emily Faithfull, and the a Becketts family of engravers. There is some range of class, but what we have not included is the radical, cheap, unstamped or popular press. Still, it is probably untrue that all of the ncse titles fall into what was called by contemporaries ‘the higher journalism’, as the Northern Star, steeped as it is in activist politics around the Charter, is on the borders of the popular press, despite its high price.

These types of serial, in all their variety, attach to key strains of nineteenth-century cultural life. Thus in the Monthly Repository (1806-1837) we chose a theological/religious/philosophical journal, associated with reform and vigorous debate around issues of belief. Our earliest title, it is steeped in eighteenth-century models of organisation and notions of a community of serial contributors, whereby letters from correspondents made up the copy in its early period. The Northern Star (1837-1852), originally from Leeds, is a weekly broadsheet newspaper, rooted in Chartism and political organisation across the country; distributed partly at political meetings in a variety of urban centres of industry, with its focus on parliamentary and social reform. The Leader (1850-1860) is a type of weekly newspaper, in three-column folio, distinctive from the broadsheet example of the newspaper press as exemplified by the Northern Star. Similarly committed to political reform, and overlapping chronologically with the Northern Star, the Leader, however, is open generally to exploration of radical reform rather than focussed on a single extant campaign. It also contains a political front and an arts back, in which literature, poetry and fiction appear, as well as reviews of books, art, theatre and music. The English Woman’s Journal is a monthly, and one of the earliest committed to women’s rights in the nineteenth century, in particular to the education and employment of women. In so far as it was published from early on by the Victoria Press, Emily Faithfull’s outfit that trained women in aspects of the print trade, it also draws attention to the cultural industry of serial production. The other point about the English Woman’s Journal is its link not with a formal issuing body, such as the Unitarians, the SDUK, or the Chartists, but with a small group of political activists, the Langham Place Group. Tomahawk is here as part of the tradition of satirical, illustrated papers, a short-lived, more radical contemporary of Punch, involving a family of former Punch engravers.

It gives ncse an opportunity to engage with the pictorial press. Lastly, we chose a decade of the Publishers’ Circular, as a fortnightly trade paper, involved with aspects of the industry responsible for the other titles in the project. We were reluctant to include earlier issues of this publication, when it consisted largely of advertisements, so we selected a decade towards the end of the century, when it had begun to incorporate narrative commentary to accompany the elaborate map of the industry represented by the advertisements, and which featured the seasonal efflorescence of Christmas numbers. It also includes the most elaborate supplement of all, the annual English Catalogue, which bears witness to the close relation between the publication of serials and the book trade.