The Family Herald

The Family Herald: A Domestic Magazine of Useful Information and Amusement (1843-1940)

Family Herald Mast Head

Dr Jo Parnell

Article prepared for the Rare Books Exhibition 2015

Dr Jo Parnell has written a stimulating article about one of the fascinating, yet little known works held in Cultural Collections.  The Family Herald was a Victorian periodical that affords the reader a glimpse into the culture of Victorian Britain and the lives of the ordinary people, as well as into the development of movements that led to reform within the social milieu…

Key Points

There is comparatively little information about The Family Herald now available. Unfortunately, most of the records on the publishers and some of the contributors appear to have been now lost for all-time. Some dates are missing or incomplete, and any information on exactly why the magazine was disestablished is not now known. As Troy Bassett (an author for the Victorian Fiction Research Guides,) wrote in an email to the author of this article, “…. As far as I know, the records of Stevens and the FH don’t exist….”[i] Overall, though, the extant magazines afford the reader of today a valuable glimpse into the British Victorian culture, and into the lives of the ordinary people and their concerns.

HEV Stannard

Henrietta Eliza Vaughan Stannard, née Palmer, (1856-1911), British novelist, feminist journalist, first president of the Writers’ Club (1892), and president of the Society of Women Journalists (1901-3) – contributor to the Family Herald. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.


In discussing the magazine, this article also traces the beginnings of certain British Victorian movements that prompted reforms within the social milieu, and that later connected to wider social reforms on a national and international basis. The article below also gives a brief overview of the history behind the British penny weekly periodicals, and outlines the segment of society at which The Family Herald was aimed. As well, in discussing the magazine, this article also looks at how the magazine reflected the concepts behind the British Victorian way of thinking; specifically, their ideas about the difference between the women of the various classes, and also about the difference between the sexes— in particular, in relation to the Victorian views on the purity and chastity and “dangerous” sexuality of women, and their perceived and social roles as channels through which property passed—and the differing roles of men and women in society and the home. Most notably, the magazine helped in influencing and shaping the audience for which it was intended, and especially the women. For many of the female readers, the magazine was the channel through which they learnt of the outside world and the lives of others. In turn, these women then socialised their off-spring.


[i] Troy Bassett, “Re: William Stevens publisher.” 15 Sept. 2014. Message to Jo Parnell.

Read the entire article in PDF.

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