Cawood I & Upton C (2016) Joseph Chamberlain and the Birmingham Satirical Journals, 1876-1911. In: Upton C & Cawood I (eds.) Joseph Chamberlain: International Statesman, National Leader, Local Icon. London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 176-210. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137528858_9
Joseph Chamberlain came to prominence in the second great age of political caricature, which was also the first age of mass-circulation political satirical periodicals.1 Although historians of journalism have been preoccupied with the concept of the ‘new journalism’ in the late nineteenth century, recent studies have demonstrated that there was as much continuity across the media of the second half of the nineteenth century (after the abolition of stamp duty in 1855) as there was change.2 Chamberlain was in many ways the first modern politician to manipulate the media effectively, cultivating a visual image, using a range of printed propaganda to promote his causes and making careful allegiances with journalists such as J.L. Garvin, John St Loe Strachey and John Jaffray. Consequently, one might expect the Birmingham satirical press to have been part of this effective media-management and to have been as acerbic towards his enemies as Chamberlain himself famously was. But, in reality, for the majority of Chamberlain’s career, the Birmingham satirical press was vehemently opposed to Chamberlain, constituting a thorn in his side in the very heart of his ‘duchy’ of the West Midlands. This article will explore the long-term reasons why the satirical press in Birmingham was so prolific and so enduring, in contrast to most provincial cities, and also so independently minded that it was prepared to defy the wishes of ‘King Joe’ for so long.
Victorian History; Print History; Political History; Joseph Chamberlain; Liberalism; Birmingham History; Satirical Journals