The Literary Miscellany, Containing Elegant Selections of the most admired Fugitive Pieces, and Extracts from Works of the greatest Merit, with Originals. Prose and Poetry was published in Philadelphia (volume one printed at the office of W. W. Woodward, for T. Stephens, No. 57, South Second Street; volume two printed for T. Stephens, No. 60, South Second Street) in sixteen parts (twice-monthly for twelve numbers from January through June 1795, but irregular through the four numbers in July-August-September), sold primarily by subscription. The editor, Thomas Stephens, apparently aped George Nicholson's Literary Miscellany published in England from 1793, initially at Manchester, then Ludlow, and Poughnill, with more than eighty pamphlet/numbers collected in 20 volumes (Stourport 1812). The British periodical was an unconventional magazine at best, with a kinship to the serial anthology that is more fully described in Chapter One of volume 7 in this series, Discoveries in Periodicals (2000). The Philadelphia Literary Miscellany also is an unconventional magazine, because the advertised claim that original contributions were to be mixed with reprinted materials is unsubstantiated.
Only in deference to tradition should one be side-stepping the serial-anthology designation for this oddity in "American Periodicals, Series One" (Reel 14), recorded also among magazines by Kribbs (No. 456). The lists herein are intended to supplement (and where relevant, correct) the fiction identified in volume 17 of these "Studies in British and American Magazines," the new edition of my Fiction in American Magazines Before 1800. Here for the first time not only is the poetry included (largely selected from the well-known writers of the century), but also we can point to the likelihood that some kind of relationship existed between this miscellany, and another of 1795 published in Dublin, a subscription-dependent collection of prose and verse, that similarly disguised reprinted articles as originals, and included several of the Literary Miscellany's works with identical titles and signatures. The anthology entitled Variety is listed among sources to permit a recording of these coincidences (see also author's account of Variety in ANQ).
This ambitious project provides accurate records of the contents of scores of 18th and 19th century magazines for which no comparable catalogues have been attempted; to organize that data in various title, first-line, and subject listing; to report through innumerable annotations, what is discoverable of authorship, of editorial practices and principles in the gathering of materials, and of the specific facts of publication for sources used; and also to publish theme compilations that convey the range of interests (prejudices intact) of the magazines under investigation. While the over-riding objective is to establish an accurate record and useful file of information, one of the secondary purposes is to apply the information gathered on British magazines to distinguish reprinted from original materials in American magazines, and thereby contribute to the identification of an "American canon" of magazine literature in the century before Washington Irving and Edgar Allan Poe. The files also improve access to a body of literature which major authors read, absorbed, and exploited in their several unique ways.