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Leicester Special Collections

Science in Periodicals

Science Gossip (1866)

Hardwicke's Science-Gossip (1866)

A variety of readers contributed to non-specialist periodicals like Hardwicke's Science-Gossip. Correspondents worked out amongst themselves the answers to prickly questions, traded specimens, and shared unusual discoveries. While working-class readers wrote in to discuss finds made in their limited leisure time, famous figures like Darwin also appeared in the pages of Science-Gossip. This volume from the University’s collection was found to contain a pressed fern, rare evidence of an original owner’s reading habits.

‘Prehistoric Peeps’ in Punch (1894)

E. T. Reed, ‘Prehistoric Peeps’ in Punch (1894)

Edward Tennyson Reed’s ‘Prehistoric Peeps’, a cartoon series in the leading comic periodical, Punch, delighted readers by transposing typical Victorian activities to loosely prehistoric times. This cartoon shows a number of extinct animals (including the recently-discovered American dinosaur, Triceratops) running in the Derby. The idea of human evolution had initially held disturbing implications when aired by figures like Huxley. Reed’s humour shows how, by the 1890s, such ideas were being mined for gentle middle-class comedy.