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Others were a new generation of metropolitan weekly newspapers targeting a nationwide audience, which began to carry novels in instalments. These included both ‘class’ and ‘mass’ journals, that is, papers aimed at either the distinct professional classes or the undifferentiated masses, an antithesis in vogue from the mid-1880s. 41 Among the more expensive and prestigious class weeklies were Society journals like The World or pictorial papers like The Graphic, both of which began to carry serial fiction as early as the mid-1870s.

25 It is thus not surprising that in 1843 The Family Herald claimed to be the first journal ever to be produced entirely by machine, including its typesetting ( James, Print, 46), while in 1855 Edward Lloyd was the first English publisher to install an American Hoe rotary printing press, and among the first to experiment with esparto grass for paper-making and to open up his own paper-mill in Kent (Altick, English, 345n; Haining, 31–2; Plant, chs 13–15). B Middle stage Moving on to what we have designated the middle stage of Victorian fiction serialization, centred on the decade from 1860, the first trend we should note is the simultaneous erosion of the autonomy of the proletarian market and of bourgeois prejudice against the weekly serial.

8 Context of England and Wales as a whole doubled in the first half of the nineteenth century, with the decade from 1810 exhibiting the highest rate of growth (Porter, 3). Moreover, though no reliable figures are available, it seems likely that the reading public expanded significantly during this period, not only in absolute terms but also as a percentage of the total population. Physical conditions both in the home and at work could hardly have been more unfavourable to the growth of reading as a leisure activity among manual labourers, whether in the mushrooming industrial towns or in the declining agricultural communities.

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