Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Blackwood's Magazine

Scottish literary Magazine, 1980 issues, monthly, April 1817-September 1980, published by Blackwood & Sons, Edinburgh; titled The Edinburgh Monthly Magazine April-September 1817, Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine October 1817-December 1905, and thereafter Blackwood's Magazine (popularly known as the "Maga" almost since foundation). Founded by William Blackwood (1776-1834), it had its heyday under his son, John Blackwood (1818-1879), who was editor from 1845.

Although started as a political review, BM nearly folded after six issues in its failed rivalry with The Edinburgh Review. It was revamped, with the emphasis on literature. BM rapidly became the pre-eminent literary magazine of the first part of the 19th century, its format encouraging popular contributions from the literati of the day. Its early issues, especially during the heyday of editorial assistants John Lockhart (1794-1854), James Hogg and John Wilson (1785-1854), established a vibrant cauldron of debate and discussion. This included an early example of the literary hoax – the fictional Book the Chaldee MS, introduced by Hogg in 1819, purporting to be a lost biblical text. BM developed the habit of publishing stories that took the form of mock recollections, often introducing the supernatural via local Legends and Folktales. Among these were Hogg's The Shepherd's Calendar (1827-1828; 1828), Richard Barham's Ingoldsby Legends (which began in BM in 1831 before continuing in Bentley's Miscellany), and The Diary of a Late Physician (1830-1837; 1831 US; rev 1832; rev 3 vols 1838) by Samuel Warren (1807-1877). Wilson and Lockhart championed German literature in BM, which regularly featured Gothic and Romantic fiction, and was instrumental in popularizing Goethe and Schiller in the UK. Edgar Allan Poe admired BM's approach to sensational fiction, and one anonymous story in BM, "Who is the Murderer?" (1842), is attributed to him. Poe may have been influenced by several Horror stories in BM, including "The Man in the Bell" (1821) by William Maginn (1793-1842), a tale of suffocation, and "The Iron Shroud" (1830) by William Mudford (1792-1848), of which traces can be found in Poe's "The Pit and the Pendulum" (1843). A representative selection of early fiction will be found in Tales of Terror from Blackwood's Magazine (anth 1995) ed Robert Morrison and Chris Baldick (1954-    ).

Of special import was "The Haunted and the Haunters" (1859) by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, the most reprinted of all Victorian Ghost Stories. The popularity of this and "The Lifted Veil" (1859) by George Eliot (1819-1880) made BM the primary mid-Victorian magazine for the sophisticated ghost story, and later contributions came from such writers as John Buchan, Hugh Conway, Frank Cowper (1849-1930), Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) and Mrs Oliphant (who published her best stories there over a 40-year period).

By the 1890s BM had lost its pre-eminence to magazines like The Cornhill. It suffered further against popular magazines like The Strand and Pall Mall, though it did well in presenting some of the early, challenging stories of Joseph Conrad. It kept its traditional format and content, always sustaining a core of readers, though after WWII its feature stories concerning the outposts of Empire were becoming dated. The publishers made regular selections from the magazine for a long series of anthologies, including several that were thematic: Strange Tales from Blackwood (anth 1950) and Ghost Tales from Blackwood (anth 1969) both contain stories of the supernatural. The magazine published less Weird Fiction towards the end of its life, although Sheila Hodgson and Fred Urquhart (1912-1995) contributed ghost stories to its final issues. [MA]

further reading: Annals of a Publishing House (3 vols 1897-98) by Margaret Oliphant and Mrs Gerald Porter.

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.