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Mrs Courtney’s history of The Fortnightly Review.

In five parts.
By Janet E. Courtney.


FROM ITS VERY BEGINNING, The Fortnightly Review, like its forerunner, The Westminster, was founded and guided by philosophers.

It is rather interesting to note how that kind of training seems to produce the particular type of mind that makes a good Editor. Henry Reeve of the Edinburgh, as his letters have shown, had a very definite philosophical bent. The Westminster, founded by the Benthamites, was edited by John Stuart Mill for four years; whilst out of the five Editors of the Fortnightly [up to 1928], three—Lewes, Morley and Courtney—had, before they took on the editorship, already made their mark as philosophers.

And of those three, two, Morley and Courtney, had taken their training in the Oxford Final School of Literae Humaniores.

[They each will be considered individually.

Part I: Under Lewes, 1865-1866
Part II: Under Morley, 1867-1882
Part III: Under Escott, 1882-1886
Part IV: Under Harris, 1886-1894
Part V: Under Courtney, 1895-1928

[For the current editors, see here. For Walter Houghton’s brief history of the Fortnightly as it appeared in the Wellesley Index (University of Toronto Press), request access information from the editor on]

Janet E. (Hogarth) Courtney was the sister of T. E. Lawrence’s mentor, the archaeologist David Hogarth, and the wife of the Fortnightly‘s longest-serving editor, W.L. Courtney. She was also an interesting figure in her own right. She attended Oxford, but, because she was a woman, could be awarded no degree, in accordance with the custom of the time. She was the highest-ranking female employee of the Bank of England, where she supervised female clerks, and she was one of the leaders of the anti-suffrage movement, arguing that the radical tactics of the Pankhursts would make working women’s situation even more problematic (her changing opinions are detailed in The Women of My Time, published in 1934). She was a lifelong friend of Hugh Chisholm, the editor of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, which was then published by The Times, and was hired to run the Times Book Club. She served as the editor of the Index of the Britannica‘s famed Eleventh Edition. During the First World War, her administrative skills won her an OBE. Her involvement in publishing the “higher” journalists of the period was always important to her; she can rightly claim to having discovered J.L. Garvin, among others. Courtney had been her tutor at Oxford. She married him in her mid-forties.

This text has been manually transcribed exclusively for this New Series from her biography of her husband, The Making of an Editor (1930), with very minor edits to track usage. Among other things, Mrs Courtney did not always include the article as a formal part of the periodical’s title, but then neither did Trollope. We generally do. Please note The Fortnightly Review and in citations based on this transcription.

The Wellesley Index essay on The Fortnightly Review, by Walter E. Houghton, appears here. [Subscriber access only.]

Additional remarks by W.L. and Janet Courtney on the editorship of John Morley has been published here. Sir John Marriott’s remembrance of W. L. Courtney, the Fortnightly‘s longest-serving editor, is published here.

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