Picture Stories, 1840-1860, or Problems with Photographs

Potter, Jonathan (2020) Picture Stories, 1840-1860, or Problems with Photographs. Victorian Popular Fictions Journal, 2 (2). pp. 59-75. ISSN 2632-4253

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Abstract

“Picture” stories, a whole genre of short fiction denoted by the central role of a picture, were common in the middle decades of the nineteenth century, from the 1840s to the 1860s. They featured in periodicals publishing fiction aimed towards middle- and lower-class readers, such as Ainsworth’s Magazine, Chamber’s Edinburgh Journal, Bentley’s Miscellany, and Sharpe’s London Magazine of Entertainment and Instruction for General Reading. Titles usually made the genre obvious: e.g. “The Story of a Picture” (1842), “The Fatal Picture” (Elder 1843), “The Adventures of a Picture” (Medwin 1843), “The Unfinished Picture: A Reverie” (Kenney 1845), “The Lost Picture” (1853), “The Unowned Picture” (1856), and “Memoirs of an Old Picture” (1859). Many of the “pictures” in these stories of the 1840s, 1850s, and 1860s are paintings, but not all. Picture stories about photographs often worked in radically different ways from those stories about paintings, with photographs posing a new set of problems for viewers. This essay is about how writers of picture stories explored those problems, and aims to uncover how and why paintings and photographs work differently within this genre of short fiction.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.46911/BUWD1106
Date: 25 October 2020
Uncontrolled Keywords: Short stories; photography; painting; visual media; literary form; visuality; cartes-de-visite; stereoscopes; Victorian periodicals.
Subjects: Q300 English studies
V100 History by period
V200 History by area
V300 History by topic
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Design and Media > School of English
REF UoA Output Collections > REF2021 UoA27: English Language and Literature
Depositing User: Jonathan Potter
Date Deposited: 04 Dec 2020 12:16
Last Modified: 04 Dec 2020 12:16
URI: http://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/10219

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