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In 1868, Thomas Gibson Bowles founded what would become the foremost Society
magazine of Victorian and Edwardian Britain, Vanity Fair. Subtitled
"A Weekly Show of Political, Social, and Literary Wares", it offered articles on
current events and issues of the day, reviews of the theatre and the new books,
reports on social events and the latest scandals, together with serialized fiction,
word games, and other minutiae of the day.
One of the most popular features of the magazine was the weekly caricature. From
January 30, 1869 (Benjamin Disraeli) to January 14, 1914 (Joseph Chamberlain) with
few interruptions, subjects chosen from among the gliterati of the day, were depicted
with humour, candour and even a bit of flattery by the artists. Lawyers, clergymen,
actors and sportsmen, were mixed with businessmen, scientists, authors and social
climbers to produce a unique cross-section of society in the late-19th and early-20th
centuries. Although mostly British, subjects were also chosen from Europe, America, and
virtually all areas of the world.
For detailed information on the caricatures and a fuller history of the magazine, see In 'Vanity Fair' by Roy T. Matthews and Peter Mellini. London: Scolar Press; Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1982.
Last updated: 3/14/20
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