Blackwood’s Magazine, also called Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, was a British magazine printed between 1817 and 1980, renowned for the caliber of its contributors and submissions.
Founded by William Blackwood and originally called Edinburgh Monthly Magazine, it was supposed to rival the Whig-supported Edinburgh Review. Its first issue did not do well, and Blackwood fired the editors. It changed its name and re-launched, with its title page bearing the visage of George Buchanan, a 16th century Scottish historian.
The main contributors were John Wilson (who wrote under the name “Christopher North”), John Gibson Lockhart, and William Maginn. The tone of the periodical was satiric, combative, impassioned, and witty. The scholar Ann Matheson notes, “The magazines in this genre were of a different intellectual stature from their early nineteenth-century counterparts, and they dominated Scottish periodical publishing in the early Victorian period, attracting a readership that spanned not only Scotland but also England. They appealed to the professional reading market that was building up in Scotland and provided the educated sections of Scottish society with the kind of varied intellectual stimulus they sought.”
Blackwood’s published satire, reviews, and criticism, though it was conservative politically. It published Romantic works by authors such as Percy Bysshe Shelley and Samuel Taylor Coleridge (who referred to it as “an unprecedented Phenomenon in the world of letters” even though it often criticized his work as well), parodied the popularity of Byron, and mocked the work of Keats and Hazlitt. Famous contributors included James Hogg, Joseph Conrad, George Eliot, Thomas de Quincey, and William Mudford.
Its high popularity in the 1820s was rather diminished by the 1840s, but it nevertheless retained a loyal readership. In the second half of the 19th century it published work by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Anthony Trollope, R.D. Blackmore, and Edward Bulwer Lytton. In the 1890s it published Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (1899). Conrad wrote of the Maga (its nickname), “It is an unspeakable relief to write for Maga instead of for ‘the market’ -- confound it and all its snippetty [sic] works…I had much rather work for Maga and the House than for the 'market': were the 'market' stuffed with solid gold throughout.”
In 1906, the magazine dropped “Edinburgh” from its title.
The magazine ceased publication in 1980.