Joseph Johnson (publisher) - 1790s: Years of Radicalism - Analytical Review and Other Periodicals

Analytical Review and Other Periodicals

Johnson's first periodicals, Gospel Magazine (1766–?), The Universal Museum and Complete Magazine (1765–1770), and The Monthly Record of Literature (1767), like many 18th-century journals, lasted only a short while, but his later attempts were much more successful. In 1783, he financed the first quarterly medical periodical in London, the London Medical Journal, founded by Samuel Foart Simmons, a prominent physician. Explaining the journal's goals, Simmons wrote that it would provide "an account of new medical books and useful discoveries in physic, and at the same time be a repository for original essays". The journal lasted until 1790 when it was replaced by another Johnson-Simmons venture, Medical Facts and Observations, which ran until 1797.

In 1788, Johnson and Thomas Christie, a Unitarian, liberal, and classicist, founded the Analytical Review. It was a gadfly publication, which offered readers a summary and analysis of the flood of new publications issuing from the presses at the end of the 18th century and provided a forum for radical political and religious ideas. Although it aimed at impartiality, its articles were often critical of the Pitt administration and supportive of the French revolutionaries. Tyson calls it "the most outspoken journal of its day", but Chard argues that it was "never particularly strident and certainly not radical". It was also instrumental in promoting scientific, philosophical, and literary foreign-language publications, particularly those in German and French. Compared to Johnson's earlier periodicals, which were generally "marginal sectarian efforts", the Analytical Review was quite popular. At 1,500 copies per issue, it did not have the circulation of the Gentleman's Magazine, which averaged around 4,550, but it was influential despite its more limited readership. Its conservative counterpart and nemesis was the Anti-Jacobin Review, established specifically to counteract the effects of the Analytical and other radical media outlets. The Analytical was suspended at the end of 1798 following the deaths of Christie and Wollstonecraft in 1796 and 1797 respectively, and the retirement of other contributing editors.

In 1796 Johnson joined in a venture to start The Monthly Magazine. Founded by his neighbour Richard Phillips and edited by his friend John Aikin, it was associated with Dissenting interests and was responsible for importing much German philosophical thought into England. According to Marilyn Butler, it "combined many of the best features of the periodicals of the century. It was a miscellany, but more intellectual and much more bookish than the ; hospitable to readers, it nevertheless high-mindedly projected an ideal of liberal, middle-class intellectuality that anticipates both the innovative writing and projected readership" of Blackwood's and Fraser's.

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