Blackwood’s Magazine at NLS

Blackwood’s Magazine at NLS

March 31, 2017

It has been 200 years since the first Blackwood’s Magazine was published in Edinburgh. The magazine, founded by William Blackwood, was viewed by many as one of the most influential literary journals of its time, and continued until 1980.

The story of its publication and life is now being told at the National Library of Scotland in a new exhibition, which is set to run from 30 March to 2 July.

The display will feature issues of the magazine and correspondence relating to some of Edinburgh’s leading literary figures, such as Robert Louis Stevenson and Arthur Conan Doyle. A copy of the first ever issue printed 200 years ago will be available for the public to view, as well as the 1918 edition that is known for saving the life of a WW1 soldier.

Other literary figures connected to the magazine included the likes of James Hogg and Edinburgh-based Margaret Oliphant, who wrote over 100 articles for the magazine over the course of her lifetime.

The exhibition: ‘”Laws were made to be broken”: “Blackwood’s Magazine” at 200’.

Blackwood’s Magazine

Blackwood’s Magazine published a mixture of satire, reviews and criticism between 1817 and 1980. It was hugely controversial but also extremely popular and influential, publishing work by radicals such as Percy Bysshe Shelley and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and supporting William Wordsworth. Contributors include great authors such as include George Eliot, Joseph Conrad, John Buchan, James Hogg, Thomas de Quincey and Margaret Oliphant.

William Blackwood and Sir Walter Scott

William Blackwood, the man behind the magazine, also published Scott’s novels Old Mortality and The Black Dwarf, but when Blackwood tried to suggest improvements to Scott it was not entirely appreciated. Scott wrote to his printer James Ballantyne that he should tell Blackwood that ‘I belong to the Black Hussars of Literature, who neither give nor receive criticism’. Scott’s connection with the House of Blackwood ended soon after.