Punch and the Victorian Periodical Press Collection


The cartoons and satire of Punch magazine, also known as The London Charivari, are iconographic symbols of the Victorian era, making Punch a particularly rich source for studying mid-Victorian life and urban change. Published weekly from 1841, the main cuts provide a striking visual representation of current news and affairs. The popularity of the magazine endured throughout the nineteenth and twentieth century, finally ceasing publication in 2002. This particular collection examines its contribution to an understanding of Victorian social, cultural and political life from 1841 – 1901.

Despite Punch being a ubiquitous source of contemporary humour and social commentary, the magazine has attracted little detailed research. This Special Collection and the Digital Project that accompanies it are part of a series of ongoing projects started by Dr Clare Horrocks (Lecturer in Media, Culture, Communication) and the Research Society for Victorian Periodicals in conjunction with the British Library where the Punch publishing archive is housed. For more information on this project please see Punch and the Victorian Periodical Press.

The collection held at LJMU consists of a complete run of Punch from 1841 until 1936, along with a few additional volumes – a list of items in the Punch Collection (PDF) is available.

The accompanying Digital Project is an interactive database of the contributors to Punch currently only recorded in the Punch Archive at the British Library. In December 1842 Bradbury and Evans became sole owners of the magazine, introducing the Contributor Ledgers in 1843 which started to detail who were regular contributors on the salaried staff, the title and length of their work for each week. Given the anonymous authorship characteristic of much of the periodical writing of the Victorian period, this project, in identifying these contributors, will provide crucial data for understanding not only the character of the magazine but also the social network of writers and illustrators who worked in the literary marketplace of the nineteenth century.

The digital images from the Punch ledgers have been made available under licence from the British Library Board, which retains copyright.

The pilot year of 1843 has been completed by Dr Horrocks with the assistance of a Curran Fellowship from the Research Society for Victorian Periodicals.


Internal Links

The following resources are available to LJMU students and staff only through the Electronic Library.

  • British Newspapers 1600-1900
  • Burney Newspaper Collection
  • Illustrated London News Historical Archives, 1842-2003
  • Nineteenth Century British Library Newspapers
  • Nineteenth Century UK Periodicals Online
  • The Times Digital Archive 1785 - 1985
  • Victorian Popular Culture

External Links

British Association for Victorian Studies

Research Society for Victorian Periodicals

Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing (SHARP)

The Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition

Victorian Research Web

Page last modified 26 June 2013.

Send Feedback
LJMU Logo banner imageLJMU Logo banner image (print)