1a North Earl Street and
At Tallon’s you can buy
M’dleham Opinion 1s
Magazines for Christmas (1898)
In the run-up to Christmas 1898 the Dublin stationer James Tallon, of 34 Grafton Street and 1a North Earl Street, took the unusual decision to advertise in the newspapers not just his best-selling wares, but more or less his entire stock. The Freeman’s Journal for 10 December therefore carries a long advertisement, listing almost 175 magazines and periodicals sent over from London which the Dublin (and ‘country’) public could buy at his shops.
This list gives us an insight into the sort of material that could be bought off the shelf in 1898 by Joyce and his contemporaries, and helps us to imagine the line of distribution by which Joyce acquired it. Joyce cites many of the magazines listed and his familiarity with periodical publications is quite in keeping with his objective of examining the lives and preoccupations of everyday Dubliners in fiction. The items all appear in library catalogues and bibliographies, but they feel more real to us when they appear in a Grafton Street stationer’s list for the price of a few pennies.
The full list appears in the sidebar. Many of the items stand out to those familiar with Ulysses and the other works. High up the list appears the ‘Princess Nov[elette]’: compare “Madame Vera Verity, directress of the Woman Beautiful page of the Princess Novelette” (U. 13.109-10).
Soon after we find the magazine Answers: Joyce’s father struggled with the puzzles in 1898 (“Thinks he’ll win in Answers, poets’ picture puzzle”: U 11.1023-4) in an attempt to obtain some extra cash; see also “tipbids and answers” in FW 101.05.
Just under that, Comic Cuts, published from 1890 right up to 1950. In the first issue the editor writes: “If you like Comic Cuts it will live and grow until it is as well known as our excellent friends 'Scraps' and 'Sloper', to whom greeting” (both Scraps and (Ally) Sloper appear in Tallon’s list). Joyce notes “read Comic Cuts” in the Finnegans Wake Buffalo Notesheets (vol. 6, p. 52).
The British and Irish public were fascinated by the sensationalist stories of the Police Gazette and the Illustrated Police News. Both were on sale through Tallon. Joyce is dismissive of the former in Ulysses: “here she is...that was giggling over the Police Gazette with Terry on the counter”(U 12.1165-6). By June 1920 he writes to his aunt Josephine about “the gazette or police news or whatever the devil it is it was always on sale in low newsagents” (Letters (1966) vol. II, p. 471-2)
As a tour de force Tallon is able to supply Joyce with all three of the magazines which Stephen encountered at Joe Dillon’s house (“An Encounter”, Dubliners 175): “He had a little library made up of old numbers of The Union Jack, Pluck and The Halfpenny Marvel”.
Some of the other items on Tallon’s list referred to by Joyce are:
Modern Society (1880-1917), containing society gossip: “a press cutting from an English weekly periodical Modern Society, subject corporal chastisement in girls’ schools” (U 17.1801-2)
Photo Bits (1898-1926): “The Bath of the Nymph over the bed. Given away with the Easter number of Photo Bits” (U 4.369-70); “Im glad I burned the half of those old Freemans and Photo Bits” (U 18.600-1); “BLOOM You mean Photo Bits? THE NYMPH I do” (U 15.3260-3)
Ally Sloper (1884-1949 in various guises): “prognothic with receding forehead and Ally Sloper nose” (U 15.2151-2)
Gentlewoman (1890-1926): “those kidfitting corsets Id want advertised cheap in the Gentlewoman” (U 18.446-7). Tallon’s reference is probably not to the Figaro and Irish Gentlewoman, though arguably Joyce’s may be.
M. A. P. (= Mainly About People – 1898-1911): “The personal note. M. A. P. Mainly all pictures” (U. 7.97)
Tit Bits (1881-1956): “In the tabledrawer he found an old number of Titbits” (U 4.467); ”a Titbits back number (U 15.934); also “tipbids and answers” (FW 101.05)
Literary World (1868-1919): “ Do not send 'Hallow Eve' to any paper as I have sent it to 'Literary World' which offers prize of £10. 10. 0. Send me at once copies of this paper” (Letters (1966) vol. II, p. 100); “I sent my story The Clay (which I had slightly rewritten) to The LITERARY World” (Letters (1966) vol. II, p. 109)
Lloyd’s (= Lloyd’s Weekly News): “that picture of that hardened criminal he was called in Lloyds Weekly news” (U 18.991-2); “As regards the gazette or police news or whatever the devil it is it was always on sale in low newsagents…. Can you obtain for me Reynold’s or Lloyd’s Weekly News or News of the World” (Letters (1966) vol. II, p. 472)
News of the World: see previous entry
Reynolds (= Reynold’s Newspaper, under various titles from 1849-1923): “He still bought a copy of Reynold's Newspaper every week but he attended to his religious duties and for nine-tenths of the year lived a regular life” (“The Boarding House”, Dubliners 264); see also the two previous entries
Pearson’s Weekly (1890-1939): “those powders the drink habit cured in Pearson’s Weekly (U 13.291-2); “To Become Tintinued in Fearson’s Nightly” (FW 359.27); [April 1929] “A lot of it was read to me but I should prefer the book advertised in Pearson's W[eekly]” (Letters (1966) vol. III, p. 188)
Weekly Budget (1861-1912): “I declare somebody ought to put him in the budget” (U 18.578-9). Tallon has four Budgets on his list. Of these, by far the best known was the Weekly Budget.
Lady’s Pictorial (1881-1921): “it was expected in the Lady’s Pictorial that electric blue would be worn” (U 13.150-1)
Nuggets (1892-1906): “the Snake (Nuggets!) by a Woman of the World” (FW 107.03) (reprinting stories from other Tallon magazines such as Scraps and Snap Shots)
L V Gazette (= Licensed Victuallers’ Gazette: 1872-1966): “suck my thumping good Stock Exchange cigar while I read the Licensed Victualler’s Gazette” (U 15.2897-8)
For bibliographical details of the individual magazines see The Waterloo Directory of English Newspapers and Periodicals, 1800-1900.
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