Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Search Light

The Search Light no.1

Edited by C. Arthur Pearson and introduced thus:

With the Editor’s Compliments
A few words with regard to the purpose of this magazine will not, I hope, be considered out of place. Its conception was the result of a conversation between myself and a well-known journalist, in the course of which he said :—
__“The ephemeral nature of journalistic work is its most discouraging feature. To-day I write a newspaper article which I know embodies some of my best writing. By to-morrow it has gone. Like the May-fly, it has lived but a few hours, whereas it was just as worthy of preservation as other matter from my pen, which is kept by thousands in the permanent form of bound volumes.
__His complaint was very just. A great deal of the most interesting literary work of the day appears in the newspapers, to suffer premature cremation between the bars of the grate, or to serve as a wrapper for cheese and candies.
__It will be the object of the Search Light to embody in more permanent form a monthly selection of such matter—to lay before its readers stories and articles that everone would like to read, if only they knew where to find them. The selection will be one which no individual could make, for it will embody the work of a score of persons, and will embrace material from journals published in every part of the civilised world.
__The sketches of prominent men and women among those who are making the papers of the world will be continued from month to month.
__To write more would be superfluous. Those who read these words will read the magazine, with the results, I trust, that they consider its publication justified by its merits.
A brief editorial piece on page 64 notes that “The preliminary issue of No.1 of this magazine is of 100,000 copies, each one accompanied by a coloured plate. As we go to press there is every indication of a demand largely exceeding this number. Should these indications develop into fact, a re-issue of the magazine must be without th plate, for owing to the number of printings in this it would be impossible to provide a further supply in less than three weeks, by which time No.2 would be coming before the public.”

Some of the material is cringingly racist: although sources were not given, one piece—“The Unsophisticated Nigger”—was noted as coming from The Anti-Jacobin which had just folded. “Had The Anti-Jacobin contained more matter similar to ‘The Unsophisticated Nigger’, its fate would probably have been different; but its contents were of too heavy and uninteresting a nature for the general reader.” The Anti-Jacobin was the product of Frederick Greenwood, previously associated with Cornhill, Pall Mall Gazette and St. James’s Magazine.

Some of the (usually anonymous) short stories that appeared in Search Light were translations from European magazines. This was an early publication of C. Arthur Pearson, who would before long launch Pearson's Magazine which was to be one of the most successful monthlies of the the era. Search Light was not such a success and lasted only four volumes, from March 1892 to September 1894, a total of 31 issues plus a Christmas Special for 1892.


The Search Light [v1 #1, March 1892] (3d, 64pp+ads, cover by ?)
Includes a monochrome plate by F. Calvert
1 * Anon. [Pearson, C. Arthur] * With the Editor’s Compliments * ed
2 * Anon. * Concerning Celebrities * ar
12 * [Misc. Material] * A Page of Verse * ms
13 * Anon. * Barnaby’s Offering * ss
15 * Anon. * What is Found on a Japanese Bill of Fare * ar
16 * Anon. * Birds That Build Mountains * ar
17 * Anon. * The Atlantic Record * ar
18 * Anon. * Was Christopher Columbus a Frenchman? * ar
19 * Anon. * Contempt of Court * ar
20 * Anon. * How to Make Pearls * ar
21 * Anon. * Bees as Errand Boys * ar
22 * Anon. * Green Pinks * ar
23 * Anon. * A Million Spinsters and What To Do With Them * ar
23 * Anon. * An Earlier Bird * ss
28 * Anon. * A World of Watches * ar
29 * Anon. * La Couvade—The Pangs of Paternity * ar
30 * Anon. * The Soldiers of Mercy * ar
31 * Anon. * The Paris Stock Exchange * ar
32 * Anon. * Burmese Boxing * ar
33 * [Misc. Material] * A Page of Verse * ms
34 * [Misc. Material] * Questions Worth Discussing * ms
38 * Anon. * A Desert Duel * ss
39 * Anon. * The Shattered Masterpiece * ss
41 * Anon. * The Truest Socialists * ar

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