Rhyme and Reform

Victorian Working-Class Poets Elizabeth Barrett Brownings "The Cry of the Children"

V: The Cry of the Children Goes Public: August 1843

The first official publication of The Cry of the Children was in 1843 in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine. This is of particular significance when considering Elizabeth  Barrett Browning’s (EBB) choice to allow this poem to be published in what was a politically  conservative magazine. EBB herself was more commonly associated with the liberal Whig party.

The Cry of the Children, published in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine p. 260

This publication of The Cry of the Children ended up being in the best interest of both Blackwood’s and EBB. The conservative leanings of Blackwood’s caused them to oppose factories and mines in favor of agriculture—EBB’s open criticism of these entities was therefore welcome in the magazine. For EBB, the opportunity to be published in Blackwood’s allowed her to reach readers who would otherwise not read the poetry of a liberal poet.

While this pairing of EBB and Blackwood’s does seem to have benefited both parties, the placement of The Cry of the Children within the magazine appears to be an effort to undercut the credibility of EBB’s opinion as a woman. The satirical and comedic poem Jolly Father Joe, which precedes The Cry of the Children, ends with the author imploring that readers heed the advice of women. That this occurs in a satirical poem, combined with the fact that Victorian England was still a patriarchal society, does seem to suggest that readers should not value EBB’s opinion as much since she is a woman.

Blackwoods’s Edenburgh Magazine p 259

Do you think the influential message of The Cry of the Children outweighs the questionable placement of the poem within Blackwood’s?


Post created by Joe Meek


erik_swanson • July 14, 2018

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