The Gentleman’s Magazine

gateStarted in 1731 by Edward Cave, The Gentleman’s Magazine was one of the longest running magazines in England. Indeed, it was the first publication to be called a magazine and continued to use the name The Gentleman’s Magazine until ceasing publication in the early twentieth century.

Some issues are available online.

The Special Collections of James Madison University hold one of the better collections in the country of this important publication with a complete run up to 1868, when a new series of the magazine began. Cave’s original publication consisted of a general digest of all the things that he thought would interest readers, ranging from discussions of government debates to descriptions of country houses. The volumes owned by Sir William Woods were donated to the public library of Menasha, Wisconsin by H. S. Smith in 1905. Internal notes suggest that a book seller purchased them from the library and a collector later donated the magazines to JMU.


Samuel Johnson, the famous dictionary compiler and curmudgeon, had his first writing job as a commentator on Parliament for The Gentleman’s Magazine in 1738.

1738British antiquities became a favorite topic for the magazine’s illustrations. Readers would continue to have animated discussions on the country’s history in the pages of this important serial for almost two hundred years.

1800A church and a barrow entrance from Wessex in 1800.


1832An old chapbook illustration used in 1832.


1842 From an article on the heraldry of fish in 1842.


1868Twelfth-century Crusader’s helm discussed in 1868.


About Mark Peterson

Rare Books and Research Services Librarian at James Madison University Libraries.

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