The Journals that Did: Writing about Sex in the late 1890s
Anne Humpherys is Professor of English, The Graduate Center, City University of New York. She was a Leverhulme Visiting Professor at Birkbeck in 2005. She is the author of books and chapters on Henry Mayhew (Travels into the Poor Man's Country), the radical publisher and novelist G.W.M. Reynolds, Jerome K. Jerome (published in 19), Dickens, the Victorian periodical press, in particular the free thought press, the novel, and popular culture. She is currently co-editing with Louis James a book on G.W.M. Reynolds, and working on a book on the impact of the divorce laws on the novel in Victorian Britain.
This essay describes a ‘virtual community' of radical writers about ‘the sexual problem' in the half decade between the Oscar Wilde and George Bedborough trials (1895-1899), focusing on three journals: the Westminster, The Adult, and the University Magazine and Free Review . The article identifies a number of writers and editors who wrote for all three journals and also surveys the various discussions about monogamy, evolution, prostitution, marriage, free love, men and women's sex drives, and Oscar Wilde. It concludes with a discussion of the history of the University Magazine and Free Review and its scandalous owner and editor, who had an important role in first publishing Havelock Ellis and in keeping other radical social and psychological texts in print.