Magazine verse has long been a maligned poetic category and yet, in the eighteenth century, as the magazine vogue began to take off, these periodicals hosted a rich and vibrant poetic culture. This article reveals the richness of the poetic culture made possible by magazines by exploring how it was experienced by one provincial, labouring class, female reader: Mary Leapor. The article traces a broad range of Leapor’s experiences as a reader of and contributor to periodicals including the essay paper The Guardian, the ground-breaking regional magazine The Northampton Miscellany, the nationally distributed London Magazine, and the literary periodical The Museum. As well as offering a defence of the category of magazine verse, this exploration of Leapor’s engagement with poetry in periodicals sheds light on her poetic development and poetic practice, providing insight into the literary atmosphere of the household in which she grew up, and into her early literary education; revealing the influence that obscure and anonymous magazine verse exerted on her own writing; illuminating the opportunities that magazines presented both for shaping a particular kind of published persona and for developing a sense of literary community; and exposing Leapor’s attitudes—and particularly her anxieties—about publishing her verse in periodicals.
- Centre for Material Texts