Date of Award

Spring 2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Director

Manuela Mourão

Committee Member

Bethany Nowviskie

Committee Member

Margaret Konkol


Isabella Beeton, creator of the iconic domestic manual Beeton’s Book of Household Management, died suddenly in 1865, just before her twenty-ninth birthday. Her popular book survived to codify stereotypical Victorian female ideals. Yet the “Mrs Beeton” mythos camouflages a remarkable talent: far from domestic drudgery, Beeton maintained a vibrant career as a writer and editor at the Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine (EDM), traveling widely to research the latest fashions and laboring behind the scenes to ensure the magazine’s success. Closely examining Beeton’s EDM work demonstrates how these formative, productive years shaped her later, more popular writing. Such a survey is made newly possible with this project’s assembly of a digitized full run, which allows fresh analysis and insight into a landmark Victorian icon by methodically examining her work during this critical period.

The second section turns to the correspondence sections of the EDM. Often printed on the “throw-away” parts of the magazine, among the covers, wrappers, and advertisements, correspondence material has been very difficult to obtain or examine until now. By amassing a chronological run of extant open-access copies, supplemented by archival work in the US and the UK, this project creates and analyzes the first linguistic corpus of this content, featuring everyday readers’ questions during the pivotal years of Beeton’s work at the EDM. Remediating this material, real women’s voices emerge, demonstrating how, as the first popular secular British women’s magazine, the EDM created complex new textual spaces for collaborative knowledge and shared understanding.

Turning toward the impact of digital humanities study, the third section of this project examines ways that the nineteenth-century periodical press makes an especially fruitful field of inquiry for English Studies as it seeks to evolve and refine its place in today’s academy. An open and accessible ethos of teaching and learning emerges via examination of the affordances of digitized texts and digital reading environments, and this ethos proves useful for the field as it moves into the future. Embracing a Beetonian spirit of collaboration, remix, and accessibility, this project also includes public-facing open-access material designed to assist future scholars.


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