THE: AN ILLUSTRATED MONTHLY. February 1892 -- January 1895 . IDLER MAGAZINE, Jerome K. Jerome, Robert Barr, volumes I-VI.

London: Chatto & Windus, February 1892 -- January 1895 (volumes I-VI). Octavo, 36 issues in six volumes, profusely illustrated, original publisher's pictorial green cloth, front and spine panels stamped in gold, rear panel blind stamped. The first 36 issues (six volumes) of this monthly magazine, running from February 1892 through January 1895. THE IDLER was one of the popular magazines that sprang up in the early 1890s, along with several others including THE STRAND MAGAZINE and PEARSON'S MAGAZINE, capitalizing on a confluence of favorable trends: the advent of cheap, high-quality printing in the late 1880s courtesy of the Linotype machine; widespread literacy in England courtesy of the National Education Bill of 1870; the emergence in the late 1880s of vibrant new authors (Kipling, Haggard, Doyle, etc.) and popular fiction genres (the detective story, the lost race romance, etc.); plentiful advertising revenues due to the lack of serious competition from any other medium; and a general economic background of prosperity during the glow of the late Victorian period. THE IDLER was founded by Robert Barr, a Scot who grew up in Canada and established himself as a journalist in the U.S. (Detroit) before returning to Great Britain. His business partner was William Dunkerley (a.k.a. John Oxenham). They wanted a "name" writer to act as the principal editor; after considering Twain, Barrie and Kipling, they settled on Jerome K. Jerome, then riding a crest with the success of his humorous THREE MEN IN A BOAT. The idea may have been to have Jerome act as a figurehead, but he dove enthusiastically into his editorial duties and his competitive/collaborative relationship with Barr led to a fruitful ferment in the magazine's pages. As a writer (like W. W. Jacobs and Barry Pain, who were also frequent contributors to the magazine), Jerome was known principally for humor but he also wrote significant amounts of very good horror and supernatural material. Barr himself was another versatile author of popular fiction (working mainly in the adventure and mystery genres). Both men contributed material as well as editorial guidance to THE IDLER, and they were joined by some of the leading fiction writers of the period: Robert Louis Stevenson, A. Conan Doyle, Israel Zangwill, Marie Corelli, Grant Allen, Anthony Hope, Eden Phillpotts and W. L. Alden. The fiction, which tended towards the generic and sensational, was balanced by articles and essays, some serious, some playful. Lively artwork and layouts acted as a leavening for the whole. The magazine was profitable from the start and had a good run, ending in 1911. Jerome and Barr were among the last in the Victorian tradition of author-editors, a tradition that included Charles Dickens, Margaret Oliphant, Mary Braddon and (in the U.S.) William Dean Howells and Bret Harte. Ashley, The Age of the Storytellers: British Popular Fiction Magazines, 1880-1950, pp. 93-100. Lawrence Solomon book label affixed at the upper left corner of the front paste-down in each volume. A nearly fine to fine run with solid and bright bindings. Uncommon in the publisher's cloth. A lovely set. (#164525).

Price: $1,000.00

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