Peeps into the Past

April 26, 2011

Peeps into the Past: A Detailed 1919 History of Bloods and Journals

Compiled by Bill Blackbeard and Justin Gilbert (2001)

Boys of England image courtesy E. M. Sanchez-Saavedra

Introduction by Bill Blackbeard

When the old London Journal expired, its title was purchased by the publisher of Spare Moments, F. A. Wickhart, in June of 1918. A long devotee of sensational fiction, Wickhart revived TLJ as a supplement to the weekly SM, starting on October 27, 1918. As the leading feature in this new LJ, Wickhart asked a major collector and scholar of bloods and penny journals named Frank Jay to write a chatty, informal (but detailed and accurate) history of this field, based on Jay’s own very extensive collection and the BM files, to be published over as many issues of TLJ as it might take. Starting with an in depth account of the LJ and its authors, editors, and illustrators through the two initial installments, then thence to The Penny Storyteller, the various half-penny journals, and so on, to Reynolds Miscellany, where he dwells at length on Reynolds himself and then lists the fiction contents of the full run of the magazine. Next, Jay tackled the old boys journals in a virtually exhaustive look at the field, citing contents at length, and profiling major authors and publishers, all in three jammed microprint columns per page through several weeks, finally turning to bloods for the reminder of this initial part of the history on April 5, 1919 and going on in great depth though innumerable titles with discursive data on authors, publishers, and artists at almost every point, wrapping the account up in the LJ for May 17, 1919. Apparently both the publisher and a vocally effective number of readers were delighted with Jay’s effort, for in July, 1920, Jay returned with a further series of “Peeps Into The Past,” based on further research over the intervening year, which ran in the LJ/SM supplement through 12/15/20, just as richly detailed on bloods and boys journals as the foregoing history had been. With its exhaustive lists of story paper contents and blood publishers’ titles, there is adequate material here, coupled with the lists of Montague Summers and A. E.  Waite, to serve as the basis for a really fine index of the field.

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