Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in History (PhD)

Degree Level





Joel Gordon

Committee Member

Laurence Hare

Second Committee Member

Ren Pepitone


British History, Journalism, Periodicals, Victorian Era


Covering a period roughly from the mid-1820s through the early-1880s, this dissertation investigates transformations in the style and substance of political discourse practiced in British organs of “higher journalism.” Animating certain key moments and figures along the way, it explains the shift from a periodical market dominated by the anonymous, lengthy treatises found in quarterly reviews like the Edinburgh Review (f. 1802) and its rivals, to an industry dominated by monthly reviews that generally eschewed both the anonymity of its contributors as well as the prohibitive length of its predecessors. In exploring this transition from the “Age of the Quarterlies” to the “Age of the Monthlies,” the essentially domestic source of Victorian anxieties is underscored, especially as it pertained to spread of democracy at home. Additionally, the roles of Thomas Carlyle and Thomas Babington Macaulay are given central importance, highlighting the continuous interaction between stylistic clarity and political substance in Victorian higher journalism. As the two chief non-fiction essayists of the “Age of the Quarterlies,” Carlyle and Macaulay respectively provided subsequent generations of higher journalists with both positive and negative examples regarding substance and style. Analyzing critical essays by Walter Bagehot and Matthew Arnold, it will be seen how a mid-century reaction against the once universally admired quarterly reviews culminated in the creation of a monthly system of reviews, around which British public debate soon began to revolve. Having established the foundation of the “Age of the Monthlies,” the career of John Morley is evaluated as a representative figure of this newly-dominant forum of British political discourse. Highlighting various sources of continuity and change between the “Age of the Quarterlies” and the “Age of the Monthlies,” we gain an appreciation of higher journalism’s ability to adapt to ever-changing conditions and, in the process, remain a relevant genre of opinion-making journalism right up to the present-day.