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Edward Cave Founds "The Gentleman's Magazine," the First General-Interest Periodical and the First to Use the Word "Magazine" to Indicate a Storehouse of Knowledge

The first issue of The Gentleman

The first issue of The Gentleman's Magazine. The copy illustrated from the University of Otago, is of the fifth edition. Unless the text was changed during the course of the first five editions this would correspond to a fifth printing.

Printer, editor, and publisher of St. John's Gate, LondonEdward Cave founded The Gentleman's Magazine: or, Trader's monthly intelligencer in January, 1731.

A "repository of all things worth mentioning," this was the first general-interest periodical in the modern sense, and the first to use the word magazine to indicate a storehouse of knowledge. With its title reduced to The Gentleman's Magazine, the work continued publication uninterrupted until 1922. It was also the most important periodical of 18th century England, reflecting the diversity of Georgian life, politics and culture, and at the price of 6d per issue, it was an outstanding bargain. It covered current affairs, political opinion, lead articles from other journals, miscellaneous information such as quack cures and social gossip, prices of stocks, science and technological discoveries, notices of births, deaths, and marriages, ecclesiastical preferments, travel, parliamentary debates, and poetry. Writers such as Dr Johnson, John Hawkesworth, Richard Savage, and Anna Seward were just a few of the thousands who contributed to it.  Because the periodical covered such a wide range of topics, and continued uninterrupted for so long it became a kind of comprehensive reference on various aspects of culture.

"Prior to the founding of The Gentleman's Magazine, there had been specialized journals, but no such wide-ranging publication (though there had been attempts, such as The Gentleman's Journal, which was edited by Peter Motteux and ran from 1692 to 1694).

"Samuel Johnson's first regular employment as a writer was with The Gentleman's Magazine. During a time when parliamentary reporting was banned, Johnson regularly contributed parliamentary reports as 'Debates of the Senate of Magna Lilliputia'. Though they reflected the positions of the participants, the words of the debates were mostly Johnson's own" (Wikipedia article on The Gentleman's Magazine, accessed 03-07-2009).

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