Irish patriots and Scottish adventurers: the Irish Penny Journal, 1840-1841.
Canadian Journal of Irish Studies, 35(2) pp. 36–41.
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Periodicals were the mass-media of the nineteenth-century. Numerous studies have focused on the central role played by popular “penny” periodicals in the development of a mass reading audience in Britain from the 1830s. Their success, however, seems not to have been replicated in Ireland. Dublin publishers Robert Gunn and John Cameron decided to exploit the market opportunity for an Irish-themed penny magazine when they began the Irish Penny Journal in 1840. They recruited scholar and veteran editor George Petrie, and solicited contributions from the leading Irish writers of the day. However, when they curtly rejected a play from John Banim, the Kilkenny author retaliated by leaking their entire correspondence to the nationalist press. The article examines the ensuing dispute as an example of the challenges faced by periodicals in the contested cultural climate of 1840s Ireland.
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