Pantilepapersletter102

Obscure Victorian magazines—number 3—The Pantile Papers

If we hadn’t found this letter among a pile of other manuscripts it is unlikely that anyone else would have written anything useful on E.S.Littleton or his short-lived literary magazine, The Pantile Papers. Having said that, at least one book dealer has recorded that this was a ‘very rare’ periodical. However, two examples are currently in the market---one single issue priced at £120; the other a complete run for £350. So perhaps it’s not so rare—but interesting at least.

According to a very brief notice in George Hull’s The Poets of Blackburn  Edward  Littleton was born in Blackburn, Lancashire, the son of a minister. In 1877 he published a slim volume entitled Hamand and other Poems and not long afterwards moved to Tunbridge Wells to set up a new ‘Monthly Literary Magazine and Review ‘which he christened The Pantile Papers in honour of the towns’s famous street, The Pantiles. Confusingly, the magazine’s editorial address appears on our featured letter  as 11, Stationer’s Hall Court, London EC, which could suggest that Littleton felt an address in the City might attract more contributors and readers.

The opening issue was published in February 1878, but by September Littleton does seem to be struggling to find the quality material he covets. Later in that month he is coaxing one contributor, the historian Frederick Ross, who has sent him an article entitled ‘Lambarde—the Kentish topographer’, to send him more articles of quality, although he regrets that payment for contributions was exiguous.

We are also obliged for yr. offer of future assistance, as we are most anxious to obtain all the valuable help possible---whilst at present our resources are limited ---though we are very anxious that this should not shut us out from obtaining distinguished help. For anything you are able to do in favour of the ‘Pantile Papers’ we shall be especially obliged.

He reveals to Ross that another eminent historian William Andrews, is regularly supplying the magazine with ‘literary notes ‘. As a postscript, Littleton tells Ross that he has enclosed with this letter a copy of his recently published Hamand and other Poems and warns him that he is working on another slim volume, which he hopes will be criticised ‘ in good quarters ‘. Littleton then proceeds to ask a favour of Ross.

I thought most probably you wd have connections with various editors of good papers whom (if you would kindly request them to do so) would review the volume. Sd. you do me any favours in this direction it wd give me pleasure to supply whatever copies were required & I might perhaps ask the favour of a copy of any such reviews ? I do not wish, however, to inconveniently trouble you in the matter. ESL’ .

Littleton’s hopes for the continued progress of his magazine were ill-founded. The Pantile Papers was incorporated around 1879 into the Kensington Magazine, of which he was co-editor. As for the subsequent success of Littleton himself, your Jotter has discovered nothing apart from the fact that in 1880 an angry pamphlet entitled The General Election: Politics and Perdition was published in Blackburn bearing his name. Hamand and other Poems does not figure in Abebooks, nor indeed does the election pamphlet, or indeed anything else by Littleton.

[R.M.Healey]

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