Wednesday 16 August 2017

The Illustrated London Magazine

The illustrated London News is probably the most famous Victorian magazine to include a regular chess column, on account of Howard Staunton's stewardship from 1845 to 1874, followed by Robert Wormald (1874 to 1876), Patrick Duffy (1876 to 1888) etc. 

Much less well known is The Illustrated London Magazine: A Monthly Journal, launched in July 1853 with a chess column from August 1853 onwards. 

The editor of the chess column was initially Elijah Williams, author of Souvenir of the Bristol Chess Club, London 1845 (one of several pre-1850 books included in Betts' Bibliography, which ostensibly covers the period from 1850 to 1968), and Horae Divanianae, London 1852.  

The chess column continued eratically until at least September 1855 by which time the title of the periodical had changed to The Illustrated Magazine, under which name this is listed in Ken Whyld's Chess Columns: A List, Olomouc 2002, with a note fom AJG (Tony Gillam) suggesting that this is The Illustrated London Magazine. However, Elijah Williams' editorship is not mentioned.   

The introduction to the first chess column in August 1853 describes Williams as one of the most distinguished chess magnates of the day, and the plan was to give original chess matter in the shape of "first-class London chess games actually and recently played by first-rate masters, together with skilful problems, a series of elementary lessons, chess intelligence etc."

The August chess column included one problem and two games, September included problem No. II and games 3 to 6, with a note that the solution to problem I had been held over to next month. October included problem No. III, games 7 to 11 and Elementary Lessons for Young Players No. 1, but no solutions to any of the problems. There were no chess columns in the November or December 1853 issues.

The next column did not appear until March 1854 and there were no further chess articles in volume II of The Illustrated London Magazine. Thanks to Ian Laing of Blacket Books, Edinburgh for this information.
Elijah Williams died in September 1854 and I do not know who continued the chess column.

The full chess columns for 1853 follow and it is possible that the games by such leading players of the time as Löwe, Barnes, Boden, Buckle, Williams etc. cannot be found anywhere else. They are not, for example, in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Chess Games 1485-1866 by D. Levy & K. O'Connell, Oxford 1981, although that work is very incomplete as only important games, and those from major tournaments and matches, were generally included.

August 1853:

September 1853:

October 1853:

                                       © Michael Clapham 2017

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