Thursday, 9 February 2012

The Eclectic Review

The Eclectic Review was a British periodical published monthly during the first half of the 19th century aimed at highly literate readers of all classes. Published between 1805 and 1868, it reviewed books in many fields, including literature, history, theology, politics, science, art, and philosophy. The Eclectic paid special attention to literature, reviewing major new Romantic writers such as William Wordsworth and Lord Byron as well as emerging Victorian novelists such as Charles Dickens. Unlike their fellow publications, however, they also paid attention to American literature, seriously reviewing the works of writers such as Washington Irving.

Although the Eclectic was founded by Dissenters, it adhered to a strict code of non-denominationalism; however, its religious background may have contributed to its serious intellectual tone. Initially modeled on 18th-century periodicals, the Eclectic adapted early to the competitive periodical market of the early 19th century, changing its style to include longer, more evaluative reviews. It remained a generally successful periodical for most of its run.

The editing history of the Eclectic can be divided into four periods: the first is dominated by co-founder Daniel Parken, who helped establish the popularity of the periodical; after Parken's death, Josiah Conder, after purchasing the periodical, edited it from 1813 until 1836, during years of financial hardship; from 1837 to 1855, Thomas Price edited the periodical, returning it to its popularity and success; in its final years, several people served as managing editor and the Eclectic had some of its best years. Although few of the contributors of the Eclectic remain famous today, such as the poet James Montgomery, many of them were well-known academics or reformers of the time, such as the abolitionist George Thompson and the theological scholar Adam Clarke.

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