Victorian Popular Fictions 3.1 7 Burz-Labrande

“Useful Knowledge” versus “Wastes of Print”:

Working-Class Education and Edward Lloyd

Manon Burz-Labrande

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This article delves into the dismissal of penny bloods and penny dreadfuls as “wastes of print” (Oliphant 1858: 202) on the grounds of public concern for education, and relies on a close reading of an Edward Lloyd unstamped penny publication in order to reassess the relationship between education and the wider world of penny periodicals. The first part examines the upper classes’ attempts to establish an educational environment aimed at the working classes in the first part of the nineteenth century, among which the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, and proposes to reconsider the reasons for the relative failure of such initiatives in relation to popular penny publications. I then draw on Edward Jacobs’s analysis of ‘industrial literacy’ and urban street culture to analyse the rejection of such publications as Edward Lloyd’s, by disentangling the mechanisms to which contemporary critics consistently resort. Finally, in keeping with Louis James’s statement that “periodicals are cultural clocks by which we tell the times” (1982: 365), I explore the various pieces contained in a full 1846 number of Lloyd’s penny publication People’s Periodical and Family Library contemporary to the failure of the SDUK, in order to understand the potential dialogue in place with publications and criticism advocating ‘useful knowledge’. This article aims to prove that Lloyd’s penny publications were, in fact, an undeniable point of contact between the working classes and education.


Key words

Edward Lloyd, penny publications, education, periodicals, Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, People’s Periodical and Family Library


Date of Acceptance: 5 July 2021

Date of Publication: 8 July 2021

Double Blind Peer Reviewed

Recommended Citation

Burz-Labrande, Manon. 2021. “‘Useful Knowledge’ versus ‘Wastes of Print’: Working-Class Education and Edward Lloyd.”  Victorian Popular Fictions,  3.1 (Spring): 123-139.

ISSN: 2632-4253


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