Ohio University Press · Swallow Press ·

Poetry, Pictures, and Popular Publishing
The Illustrated Gift Book and Victorian Visual Culture, 1855–1875

By Lorraine Janzen Kooistra

“Janzen Kooistra makes a superb contribution to the literature on the history of the book…. This volume itself is a beautiful artifact, generously illustrated with examples of gift-book engravings, often displaying the entire printed page in order to display the interplay between text and illustration. Summing Up: Highly recommended.”


Poetry, Pictures, and Popular Publishing is an important book that identifies a fertile area for future study. Kooistra provides consistently acute analysis on the commodification of poetry, the impact that this had on author-publisher relationships, and the interaction between material and literary culture. This is a mature piece of scholarship that shows a profound grasp of the subject and the related methodological and theoretical implications.”

Tennyson Research Bulletin

“A model of lucid analysis and a valuable addition to the understanding of nineteenth-century book production and consumer culture.”

Studies in English Literature, 1500–1900

Poetry, Pictures, and Popular Publishing is the third and perhaps the best in a series of monographs in which Lorraine Janzen Kooistra has explored the ways in which the material forms of Victorian illustrated books produced meanings and audiences…. Her new book amounts to nothing less than a critical inquiry into the place of poetry in the modern world.”

Victorian Studies

In Poetry, Pictures, and Popular Publishing eminent Rossetti scholar Lorraine Janzen Kooistra demonstrates the cultural centrality of a neglected artifact: the Victorian illustrated gift book. Turning a critical lens on “drawing-room books” as both material objects and historical events, Kooistra reveals how the gift book’s visual/verbal form mediated “high” and popular art as well as book and periodical publication.

A composite text produced by many makers, the poetic gift book was designed for domestic space and a female audience; its mode of publication marks a significant moment in the history of authorship, reading, and publishing. With rigorous attention to the gift book’s aesthetic and ideological features, Kooistra analyzes the contributions of poets, artists, engravers, publishers, and readers and shows how its material form moved poetry into popular culture. Drawing on archival and periodical research, she offers new readings of Eliza Cook, Adelaide Procter, and Jean Ingelow and shows the transatlantic reach of their verses. Boldly resituating Tennyson’s works within the gift-book economy he dominated, Kooistra demonstrates how the conditions of corporate authorship shaped the production and receptionof the laureate’s verses at the peak of his popularity.

Poetry, Pictures, and Popular Publishing changes the map of poetry’s place—in all its senses—in Victorian everyday life and consumer culture.

Lorraine Janzen Kooistra is professor emerita of English and founding codirector emerita of Toronto Metropolitan University’s Centre for Digital Humanities. She is the author of The Artist as Critic: Bitextuality in Fin-de-Siècle Illustrated Books and Christina Rossetti and Illustration: A Publishing History. She is co-editor of The Culture of Christina Rossetti: Female Poetics and Victorian Contexts and The Yellow Nineties Online.   More info →

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Retail price: $34.95, S.
Release date: February 2023
68 illus. · 325 pages · 6 × 9 in.
Rights:  World

Retail price: $80.00, S.
Release date: May 2011
312 pages · 6 × 9 in.
Rights:  World

Release date: October 2014
312 pages
Rights:  World

Additional Praise for Poetry, Pictures, and Popular Publishing

“Kooistra persuasively argues that in the 1860s, the illustrated book of poetry became one of the most important literary commodities of the third quarter of the nineteenth century. With great clarity and depth, she articulates the central relevance of ornamental, illustrated poetic gift books to literary culture, British identity, and the place of poetry in histories of authorship, reading, and publishing…. There is nothing stale about her contribution to book history studies.”

Review 19

“[A]n important contribution to Victorian studies, as well as to the fields of visual and material culture, popular literacy, and book history … confirming [Lorraine Janzen Kooistra] as the leading authority on Victorian illustrated books of poetry.”

The Journal of Pre-Raphaelite Studies

“Janzen Kooistra writes with formidable insight into the vast, intermingled range of…influences—artists, engravers, businessmen, and consumers—upon 1860s gift-book production…. Poetry, Pictures, and Popular Publishing does much to recapture the dual importance of the gift book as commercial and cultural object.”

Victorian Periodicals Review

“Thoroughly researched and lucidly argued, Kooistra’s study makes a convincing case for the centrality of the gift book to understanding Victorian poetry, illustration, book production, and consumer culture.”

Elizabeth Carolyn Miller, author of Framed: The New Woman Criminal in British Culture at the Fin de Siècle

“Over five lavishly illustrated chapters…Kooistra presents case studies of individual texts, including many examples from Tennyson, and illuminates different phases of production, from commissioning and marketing to illustrating and to facsimile engraving.”

Victorian Poetry

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