In pre-WWI London, mass-circulation publications like Alfred Harmsworth's Comic Cuts and Illustrated Chips, and best-selling novels like Marie Corelli's The Sorrows of Satan, epitomized a commercial culture that arose alongside a huge increase in the availability of consumer products, and a concomitant expansion of the advertising industry to create markets for new goods.(1) Though Habermas implicates the commercialization of the press in the decline of the liberal public sphere, Edwardian oppositional groups discovered ways to deploy some of the same tactics that made Harmsworth a millionaire in order to unite large publics and support widespread social and political change. Suffragists and radical political groups created discursive spaces outside of the dominant public sphere - what I will call "counter-public spheres" - but the burgeoning commercial mass culture made these counter-public spheres viable. Commodity ads funded suffrage papers; public spectacles and popular advertising campaigns helped package, publicize, and sell causes like "the vote" to thousands of women (see Tickner). Anarchists, syndicalists, and socialists also turned to mass-publication strategies to create an alternative press and to reach new followers.
As Andreas Huyssen suggests, many early modernist writers and artists responded to aspects of this expanding commodity, culture with antipathy (Huyssen, pt. 1). The Egoist (E) and its predecessors, The Freewoman (FW) and New Freewoman (NFW), would seem to exemplify, the type of "coterie" publication that turned its back on mass audiences and published either for posterity or for what Ezra Pound would call the "party of intelligence" (E2/1/17, 21).(3)
These little magazines were arenas for radical political and economic theories, the "egoistic" philosophy affirmed by Dora Marsden, and the early work of modernist authors like Pound, Richard Aldington, H. D., F. S. Flint, and T. S. Eliot - all of whom generally appear to affirm the high-culture side of Huyssen's "great divide."(4) But Huyssen's argument overlooks an important phase of early modernism, one that blurs the separation of modernists from avant-gardists by their stances toward mass culture? I wish to explore the close, if brief, contact between modern commodity-advertising tactics and the modernists who in many ways most upheld a notion of high culture against mass-culture "contamination."
The counter-public spheres that I will discuss - those of suffragism and of anticapitalist and antistatist political movements - showed these modernists how to adapt mass-advertising tactics to further political and social, rather than explicitly economic, goals. I will argue that the writers and editors for The Freewoman/New Freewoman/Egoist were attracted to the proliferating types of publicity of an energetic advertising industry, and that they also attempted to adopt mass-advertising tactics - not directly from the commercial enterprises of the mass-market magazines, but rather via the suffrage and anarchist movements - in order to seek out large audiences within the prewar London masses. These attempts mark a surprising optimism among modernists about the possibility of forming broad-based counter-public spheres in opposition to bourgeois social norms, liberal and statist politics, and, above all for modernist authors, conventional literary taste. I will give an overview of developments in commercial advertising, and how those developments were deployed by suffragists and other political radicals in prewar London. These oppositional movements provided an institutional context for the little magazine that began as The Freewoman - a feminist paper - and ended as The Egoist - a primary vehicle for modernist authors. I will then discuss these authors' attempts to forge ties to oppositional movements and to market modernism via the institutions and material practices of commercial culture.
Avant guerre oppositional groups, like women's suffrage organizations and socialist, anarchist, and syndicalist political movements, were intricately related to mass-advertising and mass-publication techniques, which were enjoying unprecedented success. New mass-market newspapers like Harmsworth's Daily Mail (one of the first dailies to reach out to the working and lower-middle classes and specifically to women) and the cheap productions of Newnes and Pearson began to hit astronomical six- and even seven-figure sales through circulation-boosting stunts, sensational crime and sports reporting, and entertaining copy that required little concentration or education (Altick 363-64). As new print and graphic technologies dramatically increased the possibilities for ad design, these periodicals shifted their profit bases from subscription to advertising (Leiss, Kline, and Jhally 98-101; Pound 79-80). Even with the cheaper raw materials and lower manufacturing costs of the late Victorian period, the Harmsworth and Newnes papers were sold for 1/2d, often less than they cost to produce, because the increased circulation brought in greater advertising revenues. By the end of the nineteenth century, print media in general had followed suit. Advertising became the largest generator of revenue, both for daily papers and for many magazines (Leiss, Kline, and Jhally 59, 95). Early twentieth-century commodity advertising became more sophisticated in order to take advantage of expanding markets. Manufacturers of national brand name products launched enormous campaigns and gave increasingly active roles to advertising agencies in crafting them (Leiss, Kline, and Jhally 121, 130-40). Perhaps most significantly, the ads themselves gradually evolved from focusing on the promised performance of the merchandise (the "product-oriented approach") to suggesting a lifestyle, or some attribute of the consumer, that the product would affirm: glamour, intelligence, well-being, and so forth - the "product symbols approach" (Leiss, Kline, and Jhally 153-55).
Suffragettes proved adroit at adapting institutions and tactics of the commercial mass market to support a feminist counter-public sphere. The suffrage papers, often with large circulations of their own,(6) were voices in a vast counter-public sphere - a discursive space in which the vote and other women's issues were publicly deliberated outside of the institutions of the dominant public sphere. These periodicals advertised in each other's pages and announced public events of interest to all suffrage groups. In spite of their differences on certain issues, especially that of militancy, these organizations and their papers united around a single goal, the vote.
Suffrage organizations faced perpetual boycotting by distributors and had to find other means of distributing their propaganda papers and attracting new members. They circumvented boycotts by organizing their own distributing apparatuses and printing and publishing companies.(7) And they also turned to the highly visible advertising strategies of the commodity culture and mass-market periodicals.
First of all, they adopted cheap prices and eye-catching, circulation-boosting stunts. Like the Harmsworth publications, suffrage papers were designed for mass sale, priced generally at 1d weekly and printed on large-sized paper. The principal means of advertising them were bold intrusions into public space: the spectacles documented by Lisa Tickner, and such tactics as plastering train and tube stations and hoardings with catchy, colored posters that often hung alongside those advertising the Daily Mail.(8) But, as Votes for Women put it, "the most effectively shown poster of VOTES FOR WOMEN will . . . always remain the one that is seen at the street corner, hung from the shoulders of the VOTES FOR WOMEN papersellers!" (6/28/12, 637).
The sandwichman was a popular advertising medium for consumer products (Turner 79), and the sheer obtrusiveness of the sandwich board made it the preferred public advertisement for the suffrage magazines. Posters and leaflets were of great importance to both commercial product and suffrage advertisements, but the scandalously public physical presence of the middle-class woman was considered the most effective means of reaching the urban masses. Violet Hunt recalled her painful sacrifice for the cause, as she and May Sinclair were drafted to collect money and advertise the vote in their High Street:
May and I flashed our boxes out. Much has been said of our heroism in 'standing outside to beg,' and I fancy she felt as I did - as if we had suddenly been stripped naked, with a cross-sensation of being drowned in a tank and gasping for breath. (51)
The public gaze made her feel exposed and violated, and the act of asking for money rubbed against her class sensibilities, but many middle-class suffragettes surrendered their bourgeois pride and privacy to advertise the cause. Sometimes public contestation - and even sandwich board wars - occurred between suffragettes and antisuffrage agitators.(9) While suffragette planners used anything eye catching, from wagons to elephants, to display posters for suffrage magazines and events, street selling was the preferred tactic. Perhaps most importantly to the modernists who would follow the suffrage papers' example, these kinds of mass-advertising techniques did in fact reach large audiences of women in London and around the country and helped raise enormous sums of money for the cause. Votes for Women, for instance, ran a successful [pounds]250,000 fund-raising drive. Names of newly recruited subscribers and contributors were published in the papers, increasing the sense of solidarity of masses of women "out there" involved in the institutions of this thriving counter-public sphere.
Suffrage magazines also benefited from another development in commodity advertising: the brand name. As new and cheaper consumer products emerged, and as the newspapers earned large revenues from advertising campaigns, the newspaper "brand name" demonstrated this interlocking of interests. One popular Harmsworth paper, Answers, began marketing Answers consumer products, like the Answers pen, watch, tea, coffee, cigarettes, and toothache cure (Ferris 48). Using the power of the brand name both to advertise a noncommercial product (the cause) and to raise money by selling commodities, many suffrage magazines featured their own brand name products. Votes for Women advertised Votes for Women cigarettes and tea, and even the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) Suffragette Crackers, while The Common Cause advertised a Common Cause Fountain Pen.
Yet another crucial connection between the commercial realm and the suffrages involved consumer blocks. Harmsworth early had perceived the value to advertisers of creating new popular journals aimed at particular audiences (Ferris 44-46, 80-87). Likewise, the suffrage journals - with their large middle-class female readerships - were a gold mine for advertising campaigns. A vast array of consumer items were advertised in the suffrage papers, from clothing, books, and patent medicines for "female" or childhood ailments, to national brand name items (Coleman's Mustard, Flako Soap, and the like). Above all, enormous revenues were generated for the suffrage cause by advertisements for London's major department stores. Debenham and Freebody, Peter Robinson's, and Selfridges occupied much of the advertising space in the prominent suffrage magazines, and, as Kaplan and Stowell document, the suffragettes greatly influenced the fashions marketed by these stores.(10)
Sensing their readership's value as a ready-made consumer block, these magazines promoted themselves to businesses. In a notice entitled "How to Make Money for the Cause," The Suffragette wrote:
You may not be able to secure advertisements, but you can keep them by patronising the advertisers. Tell them - or better still, write on your bills - that your purchase is the outcome of advertising in the SUFFRAGETTE. . . . ALL of us can swell the revenue for the cause by purchasing from advertisers - and tell them WHY YOU PATRONISE THEM. (7/3/14, 206)
Similarly, The Vote carried the frequent reminder to "Support those advertisers who support us." It ran a notice proclaiming that "THE VOTE IS A GOOD ADVERTISING MEDIUM. We know that our readers support THE VOTE. If you are an Advertiser, we want YOU to know it too," and printed testimonials from satisfied advertisers (2/4/11). The suffrage cause had in itself become a product - an abstraction that lent itself well to the packaging of astute advertisers - but it also organized a buying public that appealed to advertisers of other commercial products. This symbiosis sold countless consumer items for department stores and swelled the coffers of the suffrage journals.
Out of this milieu, Dora Marsden and Mary, Gawthorpe started The Freewoman in 1911. Advertisers saw the same market potential in The Freewoman as in the major suffrage papers. Debenham and Freebody's, for instance, pitched the latest styles in women's clothing to what they assumed was the female middle-class audience of the suffrage papers? Ads for new national brand name products, like Horrocks's "flanalette" and Adori soap, appeared alongside ads for women's patent medicines.
And these commercial ads were accompanied by ads for the institutions of the feminist counter-public sphere. Not surprisingly, The Freewoman carried notices for the International Suffrage Shop, and for radical publishers like Stephen Swift, which ran a full-page ad at the back of every issue boasting of its banned books. Ads aimed at the new liberated woman, like those for Farrow's Bank for Women or "jujutsu" classes for women, ran alongside ads for literary magazines like The Poetry Review and The Onlooker. What is most significant about The Freewoman's ads is that, in spite of its shaky beginning With only around 300 subscribers, The Freewoman - like the Daily Mail - actually made more money from advertising revenue than it did from subscriptions.(12) Seen as another suffrage paper despite Dora Marsden's harsh attacks on the WSPU, The Freewoman was carried by the International Suffrage Shop and bought by organizations like the WSPU, the Women's Freedom League, the International Women's Franchise Club, and the National American Suffrage Association of New York.
But, unlike most editors of the suffrage papers, Marsden had attempted to shift the discussion of feminism away from a myopic insistence on the vote as the sole issue, and she left behind the militancy of the WSPU. This move was costly, as the feminist/suffragette counter-public sphere tended to favor institutional legitimation. Without the backing of any particular organization, The Freewoman's survival seemed doubtful. But Marsden learned from the example of the suffrage papers and their modes of publicity. Like the suffragettes, Marsden turned to the new institutions of the commercial mass market to try to build the magazine's subscription base. In February 1912, in order to help promote the magazine, she engaged an advertising agent - an important new force in commodity advertising (see Leiss, Kline, and Jhally 129-30). The agent, Mr. H. Winterton, corresponded with Willing & Co. about placing Freewoman ads in tube stations around London. He advised The Freewoman staff on schemes to place notices in the "Cooperative Housekeeping or domestic papers," and offered suggestions to increase the paper's marketability as a product.(13)
The Freewoman, however, only partly belonged to the discursive space of the suffrage/feminist counter-public sphere. More importantly to modernist authors, it tried to create a broader oppositional forum that would allow not only public discussion of suffrage but also of topics that the bourgeois suffrage magazines would consider "improper," like homosexuality, radical monetary reforms, experimental or radical art and literature, and antistatist politics. The Freewoman published important syndicalists like Guy Bowman, Stirnerian egoists like Steven Byington, and anarchists like Guy Aldred and Benjamin Tucker.(14) The radical milieu to which The Freewoman belonged shared suffragism's sense that the commercial press should not hold a monopoly on mobilizing mass opinion. From 1890 to the beginning of the war, socialists and anarchists argued that the ballooning of the commercial press only increased the influence of the major political parties; like the suffragettes, they created their own periodicals and press organizations to contest the dominant public sphere's control of political discourse, and they tried to emulate the practices of commercial papers to attract mass audiences.(15)
Just as suffragettes had learned to exploit public space, radical political movements used public meetings and lectures, both as mass advertising and as institutions of a counter-public sphere. When W. H. Smith and Sons, that held a virtual monopoly on rail station bookstalls, boycotted the controversial Freewoman, Guy Aldred - editor and publisher of the anarchist Herald of Revolt - volunteered to help organize lectures and to keep a standing notice of The Freewoman in his paper,(16) and later suggested to Marsden that the lectures be used for fundraising. He offered to lecture gratis if he could sell his Herald of Revolt alongside The Freewoman, and to provide Marsden with people who would push the bills announcing the meeting. He wrote, "You see you have to make yourself felt against boycott; and public meeting is the only way of doing it." Using a term from the commercial entertainment industry, Aldred added, "Among Anarchists, Freethinkers, and Socialists my name will 'draw.'"(17)
Though The Freewoman was never widely read by the working classes,(18) it became an important link between the women's movement and antistatist sentiments, and thus suggested to modernist authors a vision of a broadly based counter-public sphere sustained by mass publicity.(19) Emphasizing its commitment to oppositional discourse, The Freewoman founded an important new forum of publicity: the Freewoman Discussion Circles. Radical political meetings, suffragists' "At Home" discussions, and public lectures only stimulated the hunger for public debate of controversial issues. As Marsden wrote in The Freewoman, Feb. 15, 1912:
It has been pointed out to us by friendly critics that THE FREEWOMAN contains each week matter so highly debatable, and of such serious human import, that it is difficult to digest all that it contains, and to find one's bearings, in view of the many articles which express opposing points of view. It has been suggested, therefore, that FREEWOMAN clubs, or informal gatherings of men and women, should be started for discussions, of which the weekly FREEWOMAN would form the basis. Of this suggestion, coming from several readers, we highly approve, and pass it on to other readers for their consideration. (244)
In the ensuing biweekly Freewoman Discussion Circles, the participants listened to a lecture, which usually would be published in the magazine, and then spent the rest of the evening in open discussion of the topic The Freewoman's 20-page weekly issue had become increasingly dominated by its correspondence section, which had grown to take up from 8 to 10 pages during particularly heated exchanges. This sense of a discursive space for a public interested in progressive or even revolutionary issues, created by the paper itself and the other journals with which it was in dialogue, was furthered by the open forum of the Discussion Circle.(20)
As the Freewoman tried to publicize a wide range of oppositional movements, its writers began to synthesize different revolutionary political discourses and ideas.(21) In a Freewoman leader entitled "The New Prostitution" (FW, 4/11/12, 402), C. H. Norman adopted suffragist rhetoric (like that in Christabel Pankhurst's The Great Scourge and How to End It) to charge the commercial press with spreading a "mental Syphilis" throughout the populace. As an antidote to the misrepresentations of the press, he upheld alternative forms of mass propaganda, and praised the recent miners' manifesto (probably referring to the antistatist pamphlet The Miner's Next Step). Still employing metaphors of social health and purity, Norman adopted the syndicalist call for a general strike to destroy the tyranny of the commercial press.(22)
A society must be very healthy which will soon spew out this poison. . . . A general strike, in which the daily papers could not be published, would bring the whole edifice toppling round the ears of the Harmsworth-Levi-Cadbury-Pearson gang. . . . When it is come, and gone, there will be a good many unemployed journalists, and a purified England, as a result. (402)
The Freewoman, then, drew together a spectrum of oppositional stances from such politically distant sources as syndicalism and Christabel Pankhurst.
Although The Freewoman collapsed in October 1912, it had shown young modernist authors an alternative path to wide publication and given them a vision of a broadly based counter-public sphere sustained by mass publicity. Marsden's resurrection of her journal as The New Freewoman in June 1913 (which became The Egoist in January 1914) created an important vehicle for modernist and avant-garde literary activity. Through magazines like The New Freewoman (cf. The New Age), read by audiences interested in political and social radicalism, young British modernists - especially the imagists - experimented with stepping outside the dominant Edwardian literary institutions. But, because modernist authors' engagement with alternative publication networks also exposed them to the institutions and material practices of commercial culture, it forced to a crisis their understanding of the modern poet's connection to urban mass culture. These authors had a vexed relationship to what Huyssen characterizes as the "great divide." They conceived of their art as "high art" and vehemently attacked commercialized culture. When they addressed contemporary London, some of the English imagist poets publishing in The Egoist expressed a sense of alienation and animosity toward the urban masses, whom they figured as debased, unindividuated, and intrusively antagonistic. Yet I would argue that this animosity derived from modernists' sense of the success of the institutions of the mass market - a success that, in the field of advertising, would prove too attractive to ignore.
Modernist poets writing in The Egoist documented a range of stances towards commercial mass culture, from the ambivalent to the affirmative. In The Egoist's May 1915 "Imagist Number," F. S. Flint published a poem entitled "Easter" (75). The speaker, walking through a park with an intimate friend, notices the "shabby" people on the other side of the wall. Shrinking from confrontation, he expresses the anxiety of identity loss:
Is not the whole park made for them, and the bushes and plants and trees and grasses, have they not grown to their standard? The paths are worn to the grave, with their feet; . . . and you and I must strive to remain two and not to merge in the multitude.
The death of beauty ("the paths are worn to the grave"), lowering of standards, and loss of identity and of the special bond he has with his friend, these are the threats of the urban masses, even for Flint, a poet who, in his best mode, was more of a city poet than most of the other imagists.
The poem ends as the two escape between hedges:
beyond is a pool flanked with sedge, and a swan among the water-lilies. But here too is a group of men and women and children; and the swan has forgotten its pride; and thrusts its white neck among them, and gobbles at nothing; then fires of the cheat and sails off; but its breast urges before it a sheet of sodden newspaper that, drifting away, reveals beneath the immaculate white splendour of its neck and wings a breast black with scum.
Friend, we are beaten.
What might simply be a poem in which lovers desire solitude away from the trivialized world ends with something much more hostile, even sinister. The swan, a stock poetic and artistic image for beauty, also stands for the poet himself in the French symbolist tradition that Flint authoritatively chronicled for British magazines.(23) Two of the most famous of these swan poems - Baudelaire's "Le Cygne" in Les Fleurs du Mal and Mallarme's sonnet, "Le vierge, le vivace et le bel aujourd'hui" - figure the poet as a swan attempting to escape sterility and degradation. "Le Cygne" was occasioned by Paris's "urban renewal" of 1852 (Hampton 446), and Baudelaire expresses his nostalgia for the old city in the futile escape of a swan from a menagerie:
. . . A swan who had escaped his cage, and walked On the dry pavement with his webby feet, And trailed his spotless plumage on the ground. And near a waterless stream the piteous swan Opened his beak, and bathing in the dust His nervous wings, he cried (his heart the while Filled with a vision of his own fair lake): "Oh water, when then wilt thou come in rain? Lightning, when wilt thou glitter? (109)
The poet's alienation in the new modern cityscape is mirrored by the swan's yearning for his "own fair lake." Echoing Baudelaire's "Le Cygne," Mallarme's famous sonnet likewise features a swan trying to escape "his useless exile," frozen in the ice "when sterile winter's ennui has shone forth" (170-73).(24)
In "Easter," the swan attempts to eat the bread proffered to it by the masses, suggesting Flint's attempt to bring urban life into his aesthetic experience. But what most jarringly summarizes the degradation and contamination of beauty and of poets is the sodden newspaper that stains the swan's breast - not with its own blood, as in a tragic fairy tale, but rather with something that flows far more thinly: the cheap newsprint of the tabloid. Just as the masses are cheated of intellectual or aesthetic nourishment by the commercial culture symbolized by the newspaper, they cheat the swan and starve beauty. They both attract the poet and ultimately reject him. As Baudelaire's escaping swan figures the problematic status of the poet in the new city, and Mallarme's the poet's attempt to fly above the icy sterility of everyday life, Flint's swan poem suggests that the modern poet cannot survive unstained by urban mass-market culture. There is a sense of inevitability to the ending of the poem. The modernist poet can turn away from the masses - the swan wearies of their game and swims off - but he cannot simply wish away or ignore the powerful commercial press and the changing culture of the city. Likewise, the lovers can escape through the hedge but cannot escape the degradation of beauty: They realize they are "beaten."
Flint - and Aldington in such Egoist poems as "Cinema Exit" (7/1/15, 113) and "In the Tube" (5/1/15, 74) - understood commercial mass culture to be not just inconsequentially banal and insipid but also active and powerful. And this power, when wielded by the advertising industry, could seduce. Some poets even affirmed the alluring vitality of modern advertising. A strange text by Allen Upward appeared at the end of the June 1, 1914, issue of The Egoist (220):
Upward, an important but largely forgotten figure in early British modernism who helped originate imagism and who influenced Pound's Cantos,(25) uses images from an advertising poster as the substance of a vaguely imagistic poem. However, as if overcome by the orientalism and exotic fantasy of the ad, he permits himself the very abstract excesses of symbolism or Coleridgean romanticism that the austere and ascetic doctrines of imagism intended to excise. Entranced by the vast array of new advertising images crowding the hoardings around Trafalgar square, Upward adds his envoy: "_____ & Sons./ There is more poetry in your advertisement / Than many numbers of our best Reviews." Upward is much more sanguine than other imagists about the power and even aesthetics of advertising. Indeed, the manipulation and juxtaposition of images, and the move to replace discursive text with the evocative image in commodity advertising, do suggestively parallel some aspects of the emerging imagist poetic.
But this text is more than a work of "high art" influenced by advertising aesthetics. Its status is ambiguous. It seems to be an ad, perhaps for a new book by Upward. Like other ads, it is boxed off by lines of print and ends with that ubiquitous marker of the growing commodity culture: "All Rights Reserved." The poem/ad plays upon the audiences' need to categorize it as either poem or ad - in order, simultaneously, to be both. Upward, who frequently traveled internationally, wrote to Harold Monro, the editor of Poetry and Drama. "My personal circle is too miscellaneous to be called a group, and I know no way of reaching it but by advertising." He suggested that "a poetical and mysterious announcement in the Morning Post . . . (where the cabaret advertises) would bring interviewers to inquire."(26) Upward's text in the Egoist may well have been both poem and just such a "poetical and mysterious announcement" designed to catch the eye of followers and new readers alike. In his enthusiasm for the power of commodity advertising, Upward overtly destabilized the high/low opposition.
While most modernists publishing in The New Freewoman/Egoist were openly disdainful of homogenized commercial culture, they were, nevertheless, enthralled by the power of mass publicity, which offered new and effective ways of reaching large audiences. But their optimistic attempts to appropriate mass-advertising techniques were mediated by the suffragist and radical political roots of The Freewoman. Audiences for revolutionary movements seemed to have been "out there," and the anarchist and suffrage magazines provided clues as to how to reach them. The particular mass-publicity tactics employed by the editors of The New Freewoman and Egoist were precisely those successfully used by radical political and suffrage organizations and presses - not only advertising through the alternative network of publications and holding public meetings and lectures, but also borrowing such commodity advertising devices as sandwichmen, posters, fliers, advertising consultants, slogans, and the logic of the name brand.
The New Freewoman, like its predecessor, clearly positioned itself within the alternative institutions of the counter-public spheres. The public forum of the Discussion Circle was restarted, and ads and notices were placed in counter-public sphere magazines and papers, largely antiliberal and anti-bourgeois papers of many different types: the major suffrage journals, socialist weeklies and dailies, and even independent weeklies of the liberal intelligentsia, as well as literary magazines.(27) Despite the antisuffrage (because antiparliamentarian) and antisocialist (because anticollectivist) attacks frequently appearing in The Freewoman and now in The New Freewoman/Egoist, many suffragettes and socialists still read the journal. Marsden had even tried to solicit the members of the Fabian Society to help restart The Freewoman.(28) Both the International Suffrage Shop and Henderson's Bookstore - "Specialists in Socialist Literature" - carried The Freewoman and now The Egoist.
The Egoist also adopted the mass-publicity techniques that these counter-public spheres had borrowed from the commercial press. In December 1913, Richard Aldington, who was becoming the new assistant editor of The Egoist, wrote to Dora Marsden:
I propose that on Jan 1st and after we have two sandwichmen to advertise and sell the Egoist. We should print two bills. One containing in large letters the strange device: 'The Egoist, An Individualist Review, Price 6d.' The other with the same device in smaller letters and a list of the contents. These can be hung on the two men who will be given twenty copies of the N.F. and told to sell them if they can. They can return to Oakley house for more copies in the extremely unlikely event of their selling out. We will pay them so much per day and a percentage of what they sell. You can do the same thing in Southport if it would be any good.(29)
That the same poet who wished "happily rapid" disintegration on film-going crowds ("Cinema Exit") would propose this mass-advertising tactic might seem rather unusual. But I suggest that the example of sandwichboard-carrying suffragettes advertising their cause like a product - a tactic that helped to bring hundreds of thousands of women into contact with suffrage magazines - impressed Aldington as a viable use of mass publicity to attract attention to what he felt was an equally important revolution, a poetic one. His letter, while cautiously skeptical, was not a jest, and, beginning with the hiring of two "street men" for four weeks in May 1914, The Egoist continued to hire street sellers regularly all the way through 1918.(30)
Like the suffragettes, but also like the Harmsworths and many commodity advertisers, The New Freewoman/Egoist utilized an important medium for publicity: circulars, fliers, and posters (see Nevett 70). They printed thousands of circulars about the new magazine (5,000 were initially printed up for The New Freewoman, but more were made later), and generally printed 50 to 100 posters (occasionally as many as 200) for each issue.(31) The New Freewoman made an ongoing call for anyone who could arrange to have a poster shown, and it listed names of agents who stocked the magazine in other cities. They even brought back their advertising agent to help promote the paper in January 1914, the first month it was published as The Egoist.(32)
The growing commodity culture also manifested itself in the magazine in other ways. As Winterton would doubtless have told them, the packaging of a commodity is all-important to its sale, and the name, The New Freewoman, soon seemed inappropriate both to Dora Marsden and to the male authors of a letter protesting it (Upward, Pound, Aldington, Huntly Carter, and Reginald Wright Kauffmann). This letter adopted Marsden's polemics against representational democracy and against suffrage journals' preoccupation with the vote: Its authors opined that "the present title of the paper causes it to be confounded with organs devoted solely to the advocates of an unimportant reform in an obsolete political institution" (NFW 12/15/13,244). Marsden counseled changing the name to The Egoist and presented the situation in terms of commodity advertising:
We offer a commodity for sale under a description which is not only calculated to attract a section of the public for which in itself it can have no attraction, but which would be an active deterrent to those who should compose its natural audience. (244)
This commodity, Marsden felt, was packaged incorrectly as a suffrage magazine.
Having repackaged the magazine as The Egoist, Marsden and her authors next attempted to convert imagism into a brand name for advertising. Of course, it is not news that Pound invented the tag "imagiste" to help H. D. publish her poems, and that the term helped to create a group identity that otherwise would hardly have existed. But it proved to be useful for the magazine as well. In April 1915, The Egoist ran a flashy advance announcement of its "Special Imagist Number" to appear the next month. The special May issue contained numerous imagist poems and articles about the imagist movement. The imagists themselves pushed the "brand name" concept, repeating catch phrases common in commodity advertising. The preface to Some Imagist Poets (1915), quoted in an Egoist review article, proclaimed that imagism "has already become a household word" (E5/1/15, 78). The Egoist, under Aldington as assistant editor, had bet on the advertising panache of "imagism," placing a huge "NOTICE" at the back of the special issue that "Future numbers of The Egoist will contain contributions from all the authors represented in this number" (83). As a one-time gamble for the "Special Imagist Number," Marsden and Weaver increased the magazine's print run by 500.
However, as The Egoist increasingly became a literary magazine, it began to slip out of the suffragist and anarchist counter-public spheres; suffragettes and other radicals saw aesthetics as less central to their concerns. The Egoist's strength as a vehicle for commodity advertising thus waned, which sparked a crisis in its attempts to market itself. After the initial surge of interest in restarting The Freewoman, the subscription base dwindled, and the magazine lost any chance of bringing in significant advertising revenue. Not surprisingly, the early issues of The New Freewoman had attracted ads for books on syndicalism, anarchism, and feminism. By early 1914, other than a regular ad from London's Peasant Pottery Shop, a few ads for Blast and the Poetry Bookshop's chapbooks, and a growing list of the publications of the Egoist Press, the ads were all for the American magazines that shared The Egoist's authors and many of its literary interests. To make matters worse for The Egoist, these American ads brought in no revenue; they were almost all exchanges.
In response to this, The Egoist tried to exploit a new commercial shift to expand its readership. Some Egoist ads combined the traditional content of magazine ads - the contents, contributors, and so forth - with catchy product-oriented phrases, like "Recognises no taboos" (in Blast 1: 160), or the ubiquitous subtitle "An Individualist Review." Most ads compared The Egoist to dominant magazine forms: "This journal is not a chatty literary review: its mission is not to divert and amuse" (Little Review, June 1918, inside cover), or "The Egoist has no point d'appui whatsoever with any other English journal. It is unique" (The Drama, May 1914, back pages). However, just as commodity advertising was moving from a "product-oriented" to a modern "product-symbols" approach, The Egoist also employed "product-symbol" persuasion. As an early ad in Blast claimed, The Egoist was "the only fortnightly in England that an intelligent man can read for three months running" (160). An ad in The Drama (May 1914) humorously proclaimed that "although THE EGOIST is intended for the intelligent, it is read by most of the well-known people in London." A later ad in The Little Review asserted: "Obviously a journal of interest to virile readers only. Such should write, enclosing subscription, to" followed by the address (June 1918). These ads attempted to lure the potential reader by affirming his or her own "intelligence," aligning the "virile" reader against the feminized mass culture described by Huyssen. But - complicating Huyssen's high/low and virility/femininity divides - this seemingly exclusionary tactic drew precisely on a convention of many commodity ads aimed at mass audiences. These ads used visual or textual images to suggest virility, well-being, and exclusivity, with which the buyer naturally identifies. The ad campaign for De Reszke cigarettes, "the Aristocrat of Cigarettes," for example, used slogans like "You can judge a man by the brand of cigarettes he smokes. And you can judge a brand of cigarettes by the men who smoke them." But at the heart of these ads were visual images, like that of a young, well-dressed man, surrounded by an adoring and beautiful wife in a low-cut dress, a faithful dog, and the comforts of the study (Illustrated London News 12/20/13, 4), or that of a man dancing with a fashionable woman who lights her cigarette against his in a sexually provocative pose (ILN 2/7/14, 4). One ad even featured the highly erotized image of a young woman smoking, holding a box of cigarettes, saying, "Follow me," under the caption, "To you - an invitation" (ILN 317114, 4). These images suggested the virility of the potential smoker. Likewise, The Egoist ads tried to entice the subscriber to identify with a vision of an exclusive intelligent reading audience, too virile to be interested in the (feminine) "chatty literary review." These Egoist ads adopted mass-advertising tactics to appeal to a wide audience based on what might at face value be taken as an exclusionary tactic, even an arrogant contempt. New audiences "out there" were more educated and perhaps susceptible to this type of seduction.
So who were the audiences attracted by The Egoist's promotional tactics, the audiences for modernism in London before and during the war? The New Freewoman/Egoist reached an educated and largely middle-class readership.(33) Subscribers included male and female doctors, some clergymen, and even a few lawyers. Many of the women had college degrees (and, like Dora Marsden, advertised the fact).(34) But several of the commodity advertising tactics of the period that The New Freewoman/The Egoist and oppositional groups had emulated were aimed at the lower-middle and even the working classes. Notably, most of the urban readers of The New Freewoman/Egoist seem to have been of the lower-middle class or lower end of the solidly middle class.(35) Neither living in revolutionary bohemian poverty nor in aristocratic grandeur, the London readers of this avant-garde magazine tended to live in the maisonettes, terrace houses, or semidetached houses of the lower-middle classes, while some took advantage of the relatively inexpensive new suburban housing.(36)
I suggest, therefore, that The New Freewoman/Egoist and the aesthetic revolution it promoted attracted a readership within a rising middle-class fraction, one that was highly educated but not endowed with the social prestige and financial capital of the established middle and upper-middle classes. As Bourdieu proposes, aesthetic tastes "are very closely linked to the different possible positions in social space and, consequently, bound up with the systems of dispositions (habitue) characteristic of the different classes and class fractions" (Bourdieu 6). This fraction, however, was much smaller than the large numbers of workers interested in socialism or trade union movements, or of women supporting suffragism, and this presented a problem to The Egoist. The gender of the readership changed markedly, and this affected the magazine's ability to attract advertising revenue. Unmarried women living in London were the single largest group of readers of The Freewoman, with married women following closely. Men were outnumbered almost four to one.(37) Of the English subscribers to The New Freewoman in 1913, unmarried women were still the largest group, though men now accounted for more than a third of the subscribers. However, most of the initial readers of The New Freewoman never renewed their subscriptions. Furthermore, many of the female readers dropped quickly out of the list, so that female subscribers maintained only a slight majority until the paper's demise (though given the masculinist strain of many of the major writers for The Egoist - Pound, Lewis, Aldington, Eliot, and others - it is significant that more than half of a modernist little magazine's subscribers would be women). As editors of the major suffrage magazines knew, a middle-class female readership brought in large advertising revenues from department stores. The farther the Egoist moved from such a readership, the more impossible it became to secure such advertisers.
The Egoist's failure, I believe, speaks to the fragile nature of oppositional public spheres. I do not wish to propagate the illusion that there was a united front joining all these disparate movements in a single oppositional public sphere. Many suffragettes were staunchly and even conservatively middle class and procapitalist. Fabians were prostatist, as opposed to Guy Bowman's Syndicalists, and even within anarchist and "egoist" camps, there were widespread disagreements (which frequently littered the pages of The Freewoman and New Freewoman correspondence sections). Not only was there no united opposition to the Liberal and Conservative hegemony, but, as successful and widely circulated as many of the periodicals of the groups I have just mentioned were, The Egoist ultimately was unable to achieve much of a position within any oppositional movement. The war, of course, brought rationing of paper and increased printing costs,(38) as well as the general abeyance of oppositional movements. However, even before the war stifled most nonestablishment literary activity, The Egoist was in trouble. It attempted to graft revolutionary aesthetics onto revolutionary philosophical and political practices, but the magazine began to founder when it lost the audiences that The Freewoman had reached.
The Freewoman's attacks on the WSPU and on the single-minded pursuit of the vote had lost it suffragette readers early (see Garner). But ultimately two main issues seem to have hurt The New Freewoman and The Egoist. The first was Dora Marsden's attack on causes. As she wrote in her editor's column: "The New Freewoman has no Cause. . . . The nearest approach to a Cause it desires to attain is to destroy Causes" (NFW7/1/13, 3-5). While many of the articles and published letters to The New Freewoman dealt with the relationship between individualism and movements or social collectivity, Dora Marsden's polemic focused on abstractions: the Vote, Duty, Liberty, Anarchism. For her, all abstractions were empty in the face of her individualist will to freedom of thought and action. Her position alienated many of the oppositional readers who had supported the resurrection of The Freewoman in the first place. The New Freewoman seemed to drift into incoherence, and finally, even staunchly supportive anarchists like Benjamin Tucker ceased contributing to the magazine (see Parker). Tucker clashed with Marsden over issues of collectivity and causes, and he finally wrote:
I will venture to express my surprise at hearing that THE NEW FREEWOMAN 'stands for nothing.' May I ask for an explanation of the subtitle: 'An Individualist Review'? And what did Miss Marsden mean when she said that the paper was 'not for the advancement of woman, but for the empowering of individuals'? My interest in the paper grows out of my belief that it 'stands for' such empowering . . . .
If I am wrong; if, in truth, THE NEW FREEWOMAN is not, or is not longer, a co-ordinate effort toward a definite end, but has become, instead, a mere dumping-ground for miscellaneous wits, - then, even though the dumping be effected through an editorial sieve of a mesh most rare and fine, my interest will diminish materially and speedily. (NFW 12/15/13, 254-55)
In the end, Tucker did indeed give up his New Freewoman column, and, during the 1914 volume, many of the initial feminist and anarchist readers and contributors abandoned the magazine as well.
As I suggested earlier, abstractions (like "votes for women") were marketable products. They sold commodities, they were easily advertised with all the new tactics of packaging commercial products, and they united many disparate groups of readers and buyers. While a single political cause might not keep a paper alive, the lack of any such easily identifiable cause meant not only a loss of readers but also the ensuing loss of advertising revenues that came with higher circulation and a defined readership. The Egoist's hope to avoid aligning itself with any particular group or cause, yet still maintain a readership of general opposition at many levels, proved to be illusory.
What Marsden argued for was something closely resembling the old Arnoldian liberal ideal of the public sphere as an open debate, a free play of ideas, what she called "The sense of vitality generated by mind reacting on mind."(39) Marsden maintained that the magazine was
the flexible frame waiting to be filled with the expression of the constantly shifting tale of the contributors' emotions. It has no 'Cause.' . . . Should an influence come in to make it rigid, as happens in all other papers, it would drop from our hands immediately. (NFW7/1/13, 25)
The lively correspondence section, and the Discussion Circle it inspired, were a testament that, around a specific set of issues, this openness was indeed the strongest aspect of The Freewoman. However, her denial of "causes" ultimately seemed to reject both the collective action that most oppositional groups saw as necessary for political change and any editorial direction or coherence that might have retained readers interested in anarchism or feminism, for instance.
The second issue was crucial to the struggles of literary modernism to find an audience. As I've suggested, The Egoist was plagued by the growing perception, as literary activity came to take up more and more of the magazine in 1914, that the literary side was irrelevant to the political and social interests. Byington, for instance, argued that
the paper is divided between two interests. The greater part of it is occupied with certain movements in belles-lettres and art, the smaller part with the Marsdenian treatment of ethics. Whatever parallelism there may be between the impulses that these two parts represent, the connection is not so close as to establish any very strong presumption that one who is especially interested in the one will be especially interested in the other. (E 2/1/15, 31)
Byington's reaction, like those of many other readers of The Freewoman and The New Freewoman, presented a quandary for modernist writers. The poems and stories in suffragette, anarchist, and socialist magazines for the most part were didactic propaganda pieces or polemical diatribes. Revolutions in poetics and fictional form could not sustain the interest that a social or political movement could. The attempt to marry imagism and other modernist literary movements to the nonliterary articles in the magazine (in spite of the productive interchange of ideas between these two sets of contributors) was a failure.
Marsden herself felt a problematic lack of unity in the paper. In October 1915, she wrote to Harriet Shaw Weaver, now the editor of The Egoist, about the sagging subscription base: "What is the matter with the paper is that it has no unity; it is not vitalised or dominated by any united purpose which can be made to grow increasingly attractive and intelligible to the readers." She argued that
It is not bright because it has no leaven: what should be the yeast to lighten the heaviness of Egoism is the equally unleavened heaviness of Imagism. There are two purposes running through the small space of a 16p. monthly. Neither helps the other: both militate against each other because neither takes on the part of light counterfire with the other. The paper is trying to serve two masters, and while one master - one purpose - is absolutely essential: two make a deadening combination.(40)
She suggested to Weaver that either imagism must go or egoism. If imagism were kept, Aldington would be able to use the paper to see if there was any enduring merit to the imagist poets, and money might be found from such sources as Amy Lowell. Or, she advocated, imagism should be dropped from the paper in favor of egoism. She suggested
Pulling up sharp while we have a nucleus of circulation left; and so draw the attention of the readers to the fact that matters are going to be changed. This course would save money on three issues which saved sum could be used in advertising and reappearance.
She would also become a dramatic critic and try to bring the now-important Rebecca West back into the paper, as well as Storm Jameson and perhaps even Harold Monro. Ultimately, however, Marsden and Weaver left the paper as it was, with Aldington publishing imagism, Weaver bringing in fiction from Lewis and Joyce, and Marsden writing leaders. The Egoist's literary course was set, and by 1918 there were only 90 subscribers left on the lists. While many important young writers subscribed during this late period,(41) the paper was running up increasing debts, and its reduced print run of 400 amply met the small demand for it.(42) Representing neither the interests of liberalism and capital, nor the causes of suffragism or anticapitalist political movements, it could not reach the large audiences it had desired.
By the final year of the war, the failure of The Egoist to achieve a viable position within a counter-public sphere brought Marsden, Weaver, and editors of other little magazines in the same position to turn again to the commodity realm - this time not to advertising but rather to contemporary innovations in corporate capital. The slow prewar economy had led to a "merger mania" in the corporate world, with at least 67 firms disappearing each year in mergers between 1888 and 1914 (Hannah). Combines formed at an even greater pace during the war to meet greater production needs in crucial military sectors, and the process accelerated even more as the war came to an end and firms diversified in preparation for a peacetime economy (Hannah 30). In an economic climate of corporate amalgamation, editors of modernist little magazines considered schemes to consolidate several modernist enterprises that had previously been rivals into a large multimedia concern that, like the new corporate combines, would enjoy the benefits of diversification (across different media and different aesthetics, and hence of wider audiences) and of capital consolidation. From the inception of The New Freewoman, Pound had frequently come before Marsden and Weaver with promises of money and subscribers in return for a portion of the magazine, and, at the beginning of 1918, even Eliot had gotten involved in such attempts.(43) However, Marsden herself soon suggested a scheme involving several modernist institutions that represented a last-ditch effort to produce a viable avant-garde environment in London.
Marsden's plan grew out of a proposal by Herbert Read to join together The Egoist and Frank Rutter's Art and Letters, and the new Adelphi Gallery, which had become the home of the unjuried Allied Artists Association shows.(44) Read and Rutter added a bookshop to the gallery to sell Art and Letters publications, including Read's poetry, and wished to expand their publishing business into a "great independent Author's Press," or "Allied Authors Association" as Rutter wished to call it (Read 141-42). Pound sent Read to talk to Weaver and Marsden about their publishing business, the Egoist Press (Read 142), and what resulted was Marsden's suggestion to combine all of the various offers of amalgamation into a single modernist institution.
The Adelphi Gallery with its AAA exhibitions would continue its policy of exhibiting the work of young and promising artists for sale at affordable prices, and a bookstore run along the lines of Harold Monro's Poetry Bookshop connected to the gallery would sell magazines and books by the Egoist Press. In addition, the Egoist Ltd. would reduce costs by buying its own printing press and would publish, under the tire The Egoist Combined Monthly Publications, an amalgamation of all the little magazines that had been approaching The Egoist. This would bring together Art and Letters (with Read, Rutter, and the Sitwells, who promised they could bring at least 200 subscribers),(45) Blast and Wyndham Lewis's followers,(46) and The Little Review (namely, Ezra Pound's interests and connections). Marsden wanted to give each previously competing faction a 32-page section that, when combined with The Egoist's 32 pages, would produce a 128-page monthly magazine for 2/6. This "innovation in journalistic publishing," as she called it,(47) would be priced like the established Edwardian monthlies. With a respectable appearance, like the Hibbert Journal, and perhaps even cover art by Wyndham Lewis, and with the combined subscription bases of all the competing little magazines, Marsden imagined that it might be viable.(48) Like mergers in the corporate world, she felt that this scheme would "pool our demands in support of a limited educated audience and at the same time share the costs of production and yet result in a creation which would carry an impressive appearance," and it would eliminate the friction between little magazines which inevitably resulted "because the competition for the small clientele is so fierce."(49)
Gone was the faith in political and social counter-public spheres and in finding a large audience for any single "advanced" magazine through advertising tactics. Replacing it was an understanding of the truly limited size of audiences for little magazines, and, in an almost total reversal of her 1915 scheme to oust imagism from the journal, a complete reliance on the literary and artistic avant-garde to create an audience for her philosophy. Marsden hoped that this combination of all the literary, and artistic activity of the young modernists would generate interest by joining so many different institutions and readerships. She also hoped that the journal would conform more closely to Edwardian readers' horizons of expectation for a literary monthly, and thus would enter the dominant literary public sphere that was institutionalized in the prominent monthlies without having to compromise its contents with their more mainstream aesthetics.(50)
The scheme, unfortunately, came to naught, as each side backed out of it. Blast was never restarted; The Egoist folded at the end of 1919 to allow the Egoist Press to concentrate on book publication; Art and Letters folded at the end of 1920; and even the New Age, which The Egoist had long viewed as its British rival, ceased in 1923. The Sitwells' Wheels only ran from 1916 to 1921. Harold Monro never restarted Poetry and Drama, and his Chapbook struggled along only through the mid-1920s. By and large, the flurry of avant-garde little magazines and activity was not successfully reenergized in London after the war.
The counter-public sphere that had been created by the combination of social, political, and literary radicals in the prewar years, and by such magazines as The Freewoman and The Egoist, had evaporated during the war, and modernist art and literature moved more decisively into a separate aesthetic sphere. The attempt to bring modernist literature to public view by adopting the advertising tactics and public institutions of feminist and anarchist groups had given way to this last, guardedly optimistic attempt to enter the dominant literary public sphere by following trends in corporate capital and combining literary and artistic groups. While the press and organizations of counter-public spheres had been able to appropriate the advertising tactics of Edwardian commodity culture for their own noncommercial ends and had reached large audiences, experimental literature had not been able to follow this route successfully. While the London avant-garde never moved in the radical directions that groups which Peter Burger or Andreas Huyssen identify as avant-garde had pursued, the political, social, and aesthetic turmoil of the Edwardian era produced some fascinating if failed experiments and alliances between modernism, counter-public spheres, and the commodity culture that helped to sustain them.
1 Nevett notes that rising working-class and middle-class incomes helped encourage advertising as a way of reaching a new buying public (70), and Turner credits Newnes, Pearson, and Northcliffe (the most successful mass-market publishers of the period) with "widening the reading public, and hence the buying public" (143), as they quickly "extend[ed] their sway over the new Board School generation . . ." (150). See Keating on the huge upsurge in fiction publication in periodicals during this period. See also Altick for the development of mass-reading audiences in the later Victorian period and the unprecedented proliferation of books (317). By the end of the century, an increase in working-class expendable income and the reduction of the workweek created millions of new working-class consumers (Altick 365).
2 I borrow the term "feminist counter-public sphere," which I will use throughout the chapter, from Rita Felski (ch. 5, "Politics, Aesthetics, and the Feminist Public Sphere"). Felski notes that "the category of a feminist counterpublic sphere provides a useful means to theorizing the existence of an oppositional discursive space within contemporary society grounded in gender politics, making it possible to examine the mechanisms by which this collectivity is constituted, its political implications and effects, as well as its potential limitations" (155). Like the later phases in feminist movements in the West that Felski analyzes, the suffrage movement created its own institutions of publicity - papers, meetings, bookshops, publishers, street selling, and parades. See also Negt and Kluge.
3 An early and influential assessment of the deliberate anticommercial and anti-audience nature of little magazines can be found in the introduction to what is still the best general guide to the little magazines of both England and America: Hoffman, Allen, and Ulrich.
4 Dora Marsden and Harriet Shaw Weaver edited these magazines that published Joyce's Portrait and much of Ulysses, Lewis's Tarr, and much imagist poetry. They drew to them such assistant editors as Rebecca West, Ezra Pound (unofficially), Richard Aldington, H. D., and T. S. Eliot. See Garner, and Lidderdale and Nicholson.
5 See Huyssen, ch. 1, "The Hidden Dialectic: Avant-Garde - Technology - Mass Culture." Huyssen's attempt to distinguish avant-gardism from modernism according to their stances toward the "great divide" supplements Peter Burger's Theory of the Avant-Garde, which theorizes avant-gardism as an attack on the bourgeois institution of art. Both elucidate such avant-garde activity as Dada, Russian constructivism and futurism, German expressionism, the proletcult immediately following the Russian Revolution, and French surrealism. However, neither understanding of avant-gardism adequately distinguishes between modernism and avant-gardism in pre-WWI London. Imagism might be seen as a modernist "movement," and, though the short-lived vorticism was inspired (both positively and negatively) by Italian futurism, and certainly seems to embody the multimedia group activity and manifesto-driven energy of an avant-garde movement, it does not convincingly meet either Burger or Huyssen's criteria for avant-gardism. The Egoist supported and published both of these phenomena. I view vorticism as a true avant-garde movement, and the political and social connections woven into the tapestry of aesthetic revolt in the Freewoman/New Freewoman/Egoist suggest avant-gardism as a multifaceted push for change at all cultural and political levels. The almost utopian desires of these writers and editors to reach wide audiences in the London masses and to have a great cultural impact suggests an optimistic enthusiasm about becoming the art or philosophy of the future that, along with Renato Poggioli, seems to me a characteristic of avant-gardism.
6 Lyon notes that Votes for Women and many other suffrage papers had circulations of over 20,000 (102). 7 For instance, the Minerva Publishing Company or the Feminist Publishers.
8 Under the headline "Posters Everywhere! Painting the Town Purple, White, and Green," Votes for Women (6/28/12) lists the large number of tube stations in London with Votes for Women posters up. See also Ferris 81.
9 The Vote described an event at the Great Woman's Suffrage Procession:
Lord Cromer's Anti-Suffrage Society had sent out a contingent of sandwichmen, who, it was intended, should carry boards proclaiming, in huge red letters, on a white ground, 'Women Do Not Want the Vote.' A few of the men who had the temerity to put up the challenge and endeavour to carry it were so chaffed and badgered and hustled and laughed at that they were forced to lower the boards, tuck them under their arms, and slink along in somewhat sheepish fashion on the outskirts of the crowd, their painful and humiliating retreat being followed by such sarcastic expressions on the part of suffrage sympathisers as 'Where's the Antis to-day?"Why don't Lord Cromer carry 'is own boards?' and 'That's right, Tommy, glad to see yer'e chucked it.' (6/24/11, 111)
10 Kaplan and Stowell note: "By virtue of their organized buying power, suffrage feminists clearly influenced the look of goods sold, as manufacturers and retailers fought for a large and lucrative market." (173). The department stores considered the suffragettes such a lucrative market that, when the WSPU's window-smashing campaign vandalized most of these regular advertisers, the stores continued to pour advertising money into suffrage coffers, including that of the proscribed Suffragette (174).
11 Chic drawings of women in the latest fashions advertised clothing that would have been prohibitively expensive for the working class: A new spring tailored suit cost [pounds]4, and "Dainty Paris Blouses" went for 25/-, more than half a month's rent for most working-class families.
12 Expenditures and Credits for The Freewoman, n.d., box 3, folder 12, Dora Marsden Collection, Manuscripts Division, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Libraries (hereafter listed as "Dora Marsden Collection, Princeton").
13 Willing and Co., letter to Mr. H. Winterton, The Gough Press Agency, Feb. 16, 1912; and H. Winterton, letters to Grace Jardine, Apr. 16, 1912, and n.d. follow-up, all in the Dora Marsden Collection, Princeton, box 3, folder 10.
14 Bowman was the editor of The Syndicalist and a frequent contributor to The Freewoman. Byington was the translator of the English edition of Stirner's The Ego and His Own.
15 Some individuals launched journals like The Clarion (a socialist cycling magazine that had 60,000 subscribers in England), and groups like the Independent Labour Party created 68 papers from 1893 to 1910. At least 25 anarchist papers appeared between 1890 and 1910 (Hopkin 295-97). Due to printers' fear of prosecution for sedition, the Metropolitan Co-operative Printing Works was formed to print all the major anarchist papers (Hopkin 301).
16 Guy Aldred, letter to Grace Jardine, Jan. 23, 1912, Dora Marsden Collection, Princeton, box 2, folder 25.
17 Guy Aldred, letter to Dora Marsden, Sep. 2, 1912, Dora Marsden Collection, Princeton, box 2, folder 25.
18 Aldred writes: "of course, I could handle and circulate your paper, only the price [3d weekly] is prohibitive so far as the circles are concerned in which my influence lies." Letter to Grace Jardine, Jan. 23, 1912, Marsden Collection, Princeton, box 2, folder 25.
19 Articles on anarchism and syndicalism were regularly published in The Freewoman, and women's issues discussed in The Freewoman worked their way into the anarchist and syndicalist magazines like the Herald of Revolt and the Syndicalist, with which The Freewoman exchanged subscriptions. Guy Bowman proposed the exchange in a letter of Feb. 23, 1912, in which he also asked Marsden, "Could you recommend a lady who would be willing to contribute to 'The Syndicalist' from the Syndicalist point of view" (Dora Marsden Collection, Princeton, box 2, folder 27). In addition to sharing writers, like Aldred himself and the anarchist Selwyn Weston, the Herald of Revolt and The Freewoman also shared some subscribers, perhaps indicating the success of Aldred's efforts on behalf of The Freewoman.
20 The first Discussion Circle meeting was on Apr. 25, 1912, and was attended by 100 people, setting a precedent for an active ongoing public institution. The Circles explored a wide range of topics including anarchism, homosexuality, eugenics, neo-Malthusianism, and many topics of current feminist concern: divorce, prostitution, domestic drudgery, and the like (Garner 734).
21 Many intricate relationships of influence can be traced among these groups and the ideas they advocated. For a good discussion of suffragism and avant-gardism, see Lyon. Recent explorations of the influence of Marsden's antistatist politics on modernism include: von Hallberg, Barash, Kadlec, and Clarke. (Clarke has just published the first full-length study of Marsden's influence on literature, Dora Marsden and Early Modernism: Gender, Individualism, Science.)
22 In London in 1910, three companies - Northcliffe, Cadbury, and Pearson - controlled over a third of the morning paper circulation and four-fifths of the evening circulation. Four companies - J. H. Dalziel, Riddell, Lloyd, and Northcliffe - controlled over four-fifths of the Sunday circulation (Lee 127).
23 My thanks to Robert von Hallberg for suggesting this French context for the swan motif. Flint wrote numerous articles about French poetry for literary magazines, and was the author of the influential "French Chronicle" in Poetry and Drama (1913-14). See Grant 47-48.
24 Hampton links the poem to Baudelaire's, and notes the self-referentiality of the poem (448). Cohn follows the critical commonplace of reading the swan as figuring "the poet who is held in the dull here-on-earth but aspires to a Platonic perfection of beauty" (124).
25 Upward's The Sayings of K'Ung the Master (1904) and Scented Leaves from a Chinese Jar appeared in The New Freewoman in 1913. Pound was interested in these short, concise, proselike poems, and published some of them in Des Imagistes (1914). For more on Upward, see Sheldon and Knox. The best discussion of Upward's relationship to Pound's Cantos is Davie.
26 Allen Upward, letter to Harold Monro, Dec. 27, 1913, Harold Monro Papers, Department of Special Collections, University Research Library, UCLA.
27 Rebecca West suggested advertising in The Citizen, Daily Herald, New Age, Daily News, and Clarion (Rebecca West, letter to Marsden, n.d. [Spring 1913], Dora Marsden Collection, Princeton, box 1, folder 26), and for good measure sent notices to some more mainstream venues as well: the Times, Chronicle, Athenaeum, Manchester Guardian, and Evening News (see letters from West to Marsden in June 1913, Dora Marsden Collection, Princeton, box 1, folder 26). In addition to these, the directors decided to send announcements and advertisements to the English Review, Occult Review, New Witness, New Statesman, Nation, Common Cause, Suffragette, Vote, Poetry Review, Votes for Women (see the minutes to the Director's Meetings for Sep. 10, 1913, and May 14, 1914, in the Harriet Shaw Weaver Papers, British Library).
28 Edward R. Pease, secretary of the Fabian Society, letter to Dora Marsden, Dora Marsden Collection, Princeton, box 3, folder 6. The Fabian Society declined to give her the list, but offered to let her pay them to send out her circular with the Fabian News for 21/- for 4,000.
29 Richard Aldington, letter to Dora Marsden, Dec. 1913, on New Freewoman letterhead, Dora Marsden Collection, Princeton, box 1, folder 12.
30 See the Account Book for the New Freewoman and the Egoist in the Harriet Shaw Weaver Papers, British Library, for the regular payments to street sellers.
31 Account Book for the New Freewoman/Egoist in the Harriet Shaw Weaver Papers, British Library.
32 The Account Book lists weekly payments to Winterton from Jan. 12 through Mar. 2, 1914 (Harriet Shaw Weaver Papers, British Library).
33 The subscription list for the Freewoman is in the Dora Marsden Collection, Princeton, box 3, folder 12; the subscription lists for the New Freewoman and Egoist, as well as the lists of initial New Freewoman Ltd. shareholders and Thousand Club Members, are in the Harriet Shaw Weaver Papers, British Library.
34 College-educated women were increasingly common during this period, and were important to the suffrage movement; Christabel Pankhurst even had a law degree. Dora Marsden and many of her friends who supported the magazine, as well as some of the readers involved in positions of leadership in suffrage organizations (like Edith How Martyn in the Women's Freedom League), had college degrees.
35 Even with a subscription list in hand (a rare find in the scantily preserved archives of little magazines), finding hard evidence about the economic class of Edwardian readers is a difficult endeavor. While the liberal budget of 19091910 instituted a progressive income tax, its records have not been preserved. However, the Finance Act of 1910 led to a valuation of all the properties in Great Britain. Many of these property valuations carried out by the Board of Inland Revenue survive in the Public Record Office at Kew.
In order to gauge the economic class of the type of reader who was attracted to the advertising tactics The New Freewoman/Egoist directed at the London masses, I searched for the rent and property valuations for addresses in London or the near suburbs. Admitting the unscientific nature of this research (due to incomplete records), some important generalizations can still be drawn. A large portion of The New Freewoman Thousand Club Members, shareholders, and subscribers in the London area lived in the terrace houses, maisonettes, and less-spacious or modernized houses of the lower-middle classes. Almost none of them owned the house in which they lived, and the rents for these dwellings at the time of their assessment (between 1910 and 1915) ranged from [pounds]26 up to [pounds]150, but most fell in the [pounds]35 to [pounds]60 range. After all the readers who had wanted a revival of The Freewoman had dropped away by roughly 1916, The Egoist subscribers tended to live in similar or slightly nicer dwellings - more in rented houses in the [pounds]50 to [pounds]70 range approaching the solidly middle class, but only a few actually owned their houses. Some, like Ezra Pound, lived in rooms that could be rented by the week, like working-class dwellings.
While these houses and apartments were generally in the upscale neighborhoods of the W, SW, and NW regions, including Kensington, Chelsea, and Holland Park (very few were in the E districts), they were not the houses of the upper classes. For the sake of contrast, a typical house on Grosvenor square rented for [pounds]1,650 a year. On the other end of the scale of typical London rents, the working classes in the inner areas of London tended to pay weekly rents equivalent to around [pounds]26 per year, and in the middle ring (areas like Hampstead where many New Freewoman and Egoist subscribers lived) they dwelt in slightly larger apartments averaging around [pounds]34 per year. (See Cost of Living report xxii.)
So, the lower end of the rents in these subscription lists approximates the upper end of working-class rents, though the higher ends of the scale far exceeded them. Between 1911 and 1913, Dora Marsden's salary of [pounds]52 a year was less than half that of most male civil servants, and even by 1906 standards, it would have ranked far below such professions as semiskilled pottery workers, railway firemen, bus and tram drivers in London, shop assistants, and London postmen, coming only slightly above the always underpaid agricultural laborers (who made around [pounds]48 a year). So, while some New Freewoman shareholders and Thousand Club members were quite comfortable financially, few were wealthy. But they had the means for leisure time interests beyond the cheap entertainments of the working classes, and the education to cultivate literary interests.
36 J. B. Priestly notes that the lower-middle classes, a large, mostly urban sector of the Edwardian population (including such professions as shopkeepers, office workers, superior factory foremen, teachers, craftsmen, less-successful professional men, and commercial traders) tended to earn between [pounds]150 and [pounds]500 a year, and lived in terrace houses, or even in new semidetached small villas (105). The Edwardian period witnessed a boom of suburban expansion before 1914. The wealthier professional and business classes tended to move from the squalor of the city to the outer suburbs, while the lower-middle classes and higher-paid workmen moved to the inner suburbs (Stevenson 24). Some New Freewoman subscribers lived in homes in these less-expensive northwestern suburbs like Hampstead Garden Suburbs, Golder's Green, or Hendon.
37 Subscribers were scattered throughout the British Isles, but large numbers of married women, unmarried women, and male subscribers lived in London. There were 116 unmarried women, 103 married women, and 63 men on the Freewoman subscription list.
38 Printing costs increased dramatically beginning in late 1916, and the page length of The Egoist gradually decreased to 14 pages, while the price increased to 9d by 1919. The government responded to the paper shortage during the war by passing a Paper Restriction Order (Nevett 140).
39 Dora Marsden, letter to Harriet Shaw Weaver, Oct. 1915, Harriet Shaw Weaver Papers, British Library. The magazine had been known since the Freewoman days by its readers as an "open paper," by which one reader meant "the fairness you show by publishing all sides of a question" (Jas. Hindshaw, letter to Marsden,July 1, 1912, Dora Marsden Collection, Princeton, box 3, folder 2. 40 Dora Marsden, letter to Weaver, Oct. 1915, Harriet Shaw Weaver Papers, British Library.
41 Subscribers included William Carlos Williams, May Sinclair, Storm Jameson, Herbert Read, Marianne Moore, Wallace Stevens, and Alice Corbin Henderson.
42 The first run of 2,000 was never again attempted. It immediately dropped to 1,500 and then to 1,000 by September 1913. In February 1915, this dropped to 750 copies (except for the 1,250 copies of the May 1 Imagist issue and a 1,000 copy issue of March 1, 1916). The run dropped again, to 600 for April 1916, to 500 for January 1917, and to 400 copies for the September 1918 issue until its demise at the end of 1919. (See the Account Book, Harriet Shaw Weaver Papers, British Library.)
43 Dora Marsden, letters to Harriet Shaw Weaver, Jan. 5, 1918, and Jan. 22, 1918, Harriet Shaw Weaver Papers, British Library. Eliot brought a proposal from a Mr. Hutchins. Marsden, as with Pound's earlier proposals, was leery of giving anyone autonomy with part of the paper, and was skeptical that Hutchins would come through with either money or subscribers. The money never materialized.
44 For a history of the founding in 1908 and progress of the APDA, see Rutter 180-99. For the Adelphi scheme, see Read 106.
45 Dora Marsden, letter to Weaver, n.d. [late Dec. 1918], Harriet Shaw Weaver Papers, British Library.
46 Lewis eventually tried to restart Blast after the war with the Egoist Press, but could never scrape together the money even to pay off his printing bills from its first two issues. Marsden noted: "While Mr. Lewis' friends might not subscribe to the Egoist they would probably subscribe to an amalgamated one of this sort." (Dora Marsden, letter to Weaver, Nov. 21, 1918, Harriet Shaw Weaver Papers, British Library.)
47 Dora Marsden, letter to Weaver, Nov. 21, 1918, Harriet Shaw Weaver Papers, British Library.
48 Dora Marsden, letter to Weaver, n.d. [late Dec. 1918], Harriet Shaw Weaver Papers, British Library.
49 Dora Marsden, letter to Weaver, Nov. 21, 1918, Harriet Shaw Weaver Papers, British Library.
50 The dominant literary and intellectual public sphere of the Edwardian establishment was institutionalized in prominent weeklies like the Spectator or the Saturday Review; monthly reviews like the Fortnightly, National, and Contemporary; and in prestigious papers like the Times. These venues, as well as purely literary monthlies like the Cornhill, were arenas for the publication and public discussion of "high" literature, and were agents of the consecration of the tastes of the educated bourgeoisie.
I thank Jane Lidderdale for permission to quote from the unpublished letters of Harriet Shaw Weaver; Catherine Aldington for permission to quote from the unpublished letters of Richard Aldington; Michael Sissons for permission to refer to the contents of Rebecca West's letters to Dora Marsden; John Taylor Caldwell for respecting the indomitable spirit of Guy Aldred in explaining that "Mr. Caldwell takes the view that, as Guy Aldred totally rejected the notion of copyright, he should not seek to restrict quotation in any way; the Manuscripts Division, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Libraries, for permission to use materials from the Dora Marsden Collection; the British Library, for permission to use materials from the Harriet Shaw Weaver Papers (mss. 57345-57365); and the Department of Special Collections, University Research Library, UCLA, for permission to use materials from the Harold Monro Papers (745). Dora Marsden's work is in the public domain, and a good-faith effort has been made to locate the literary estate holders for all authors whose materials are quoted in this article.
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MARK MORRISSON is an assistant professor in the Department of English at Pennsylvania State University. He is currently working on a study entitled The Public Face of Modernism: Journals, Audiences, and Reception in London and Chicago, 1908-1920. His work appears in ELH, Modern Fiction Studies, and Modernism/Modernity.