Birmingham Journal (eighteenth century)

Birmingham Journal (eighteenth century)

The "Birmingham Journal" was the first newspaper known to have been published in Birmingham, England. Little is known of it as few records remain, but a single copy survives in Birmingham Central Library: Number 28, dated Monday May 21 1733. [cite web|url=|title=Johnson in Birmingham|accessdate=2008-01-05|work=Revolutionary Players of Industry and Innovation|publisher=Museums, Libraries and Archives - West Midlands|quote= ] It is assumed from this that the first edition was probably published 14 November 1732. [cite book|last=Whates|first=Harold|title=The Birmingham Post, 1857-1957 : a centenary retrospect|year=1957|publisher=Birmingham Post & Mail|location=Birmingham|oclc=2671825 ]


The newspaper was published weekly (on Thursday) by local businessman and bookseller Thomas Warren from his house over the Swan Tavern in the High Street.citation |last=Bate |first=Walter Jackson |authorlink=Walter Jackson Bate |title=Samuel Johnson |date=1977 |publisher=Harcourt Brace Jovanovich|location=New York |isbn=0151792607 p. 134] Among its contributors was Samuel Johnson, whose work for the "Journal" while he was lodging with Warren in Birmingham in 1733 was his first original published writing. [cite book|last=Fleeman|first=J.D.|title=A Bibliography of the Works of Samuel Johnson: 1731-59 Vol 1|url=|date=2000-03-02|year=|month=|publisher=Clarendon Press|location=Oxford|language=|isbn=0198122691|pages=3|quote= ] James Boswell wrote of this in his "Life of Johnson":

Publication of the "Birmingham Journal" is known to have ceased by 1741. [cite book |editor=W.B. Stephens|title=A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 7: The City of Birmingham|series=Victoria County History|year=1964|pages=209-222|chapter=Economic and Social History: Social History before 1815|chapterurl=|quote=There was sufficient demand, too, in the 18th century for the publication of many local newspapers. The Birmingham Journal, published by Thomas Warren, was first issued in 1732, one of its contributors being Samuel Johnson. It had ceased to exist by 1741 ]

Johnson's role

There is no physical record that documents to what extent Johnson played a part in the making of the "Journal". It is known that Johnson was asked by Warren to work on the paper, and that Johnson respected the extent of Johnson's knowledge to the point that he wanted to harness it for the "Journal". There was an old tradition among the Birmingham bookselling community that Johnson was an "assistant" to Warren and that Johnson wrote several of the essays that were printed in the paper. However, this cannot be verified because none of the papers printed during the months that Johnson could have worked on the "Journal" have survived.


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