The Days' Doings
Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206
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Overview and metadata sections
The Days' Doings was an illustrated newspaper published in London from 1870 to 1872. Penn's Rare Book and Manuscript Library holds four issues of the newspaper, published between November 1870 and February 1871. These issues were collected and bound together into a single folio volume because each contains an article by Mark Twain; the volume is shelved with the library's Mark Twain collection. The volume most likely came to the library as part of the collection of Mark Twain materials donated by the family of veterinarian Robert Nevins Birdwhistell in 1973. According to the issues of the newspaper held by the library, The Days' Doings was published by W.D. Waller at No. 300, Strand, London. Records indicate that it first appeared on July 30th, 1870 and ran until February 17th, 1872. Its name was then changed to Here and There, the final issue of which was printed December 21st, 1872.
Little is known about The Days' Doings. Most of the information available about it is in fact information about a New York newspaper of the same name. In 1867, the British ex-patriot newspaperman Frank Leslie began an illustrated newspaper called The Last Sensation, the title of which he changed to The Days' Doings in 1868. According to Joshua Brown, the author of Beyond the lines: pictorial reporting, everyday life, and the crisis of gilded-age America, the paper advertised that it was printed by James Watts and Company, but anyone who read the well-established Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper would recognize "the occasional reprinting of engravings previously published in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, the signatures of regular Illustrated Newspaper artists gracing many of its illustrations, and the ads for Leslie's publications dominating its back pages" (Brown, "The Days' Doings").
Though no readily available research demonstrates a connection between the two papers, a variety of evidence leads to the conclusion that The Days' Doings printed in London is a British edition of Leslie's New York publication. First of all, the papers are laid out identically, down to the structure and order of the pages. The American paper has four columns on each of its 16 pages with illustrated front and back covers, as does the British paper. The title art for both papers is nearly identical, and the mastheads read remarkably similarly. The American masthead: "Illustrating Current Events of Romance, Police Reports, Important Trials, and Sporting News;" the British: "An Illustrated Journal of Romantic Events, Reports, Sporting & Theatrical News, at Home & Abroad." Even the arrangement of pages within the publications is identical, e.g. page 4 alternates articles and illustrations of those articles; page 12 is a full-page illustration (see Scope and Contents note).
The features that make The Days' Doings (London) unique are also features of the American publication of the same title. The British paper uses titles like "The Days' Doings," "War Doings," and "Doings Abroad" to collect short articles without illustrations or headlines. The issue of The Days' Doings (New York) from 1874 held by the Library Company of Philadelphia used to compare the two publications does not use these titles specifically, but does use general headlines for collections of short articles in the same way: "Society Gossip," "Accidents and Incidents," "Women & Girls," "Crime & Criminals," "Lights & Shadows." And in the same way that the articles in the British publication list no authors, the American paper leaves all of its articles and illustrations unattributed.
The type of content is also similar in both publications. Vol. II, issue 31 of the London paper has an article entitled "Female Ice-Boaters: Forty Miles an Hour on the Frozen Hudson." This story clearly appears not because iceboating is uncommon, but because women do not commonly iceboat; it also makes for an enticing illustration. The American issue from 1874 has an article entitled "Female Barbers: A Barber-ous Innovation," again included not because barbers are unusual, but because suddenly women are stylishly entering a profession previously reserved for men. The tone of both of these articles suggests that they are not included to empower women, but rather to amuse male readers.
In the same way that the British paper features articles about women's activities, romances made and broken, reports of accidents, and fictional stories, the American issue from 1874 features articles like " Narrow Escape of Miss Mattie Ould," "Two Jersey City Ladies Hit a Fair Rival with a Brick," and Chapter XXIX of the serialized story "Miss Sarah; Or, Gilded Guilt."
Based on this evidence, it seems likely that Frank Leslie was simultaneously publishing editions of The Days' Doings in both New York and London, each edition containing articles relevant to readers in its geography. If Leslie published The Days' Doings of New York under the pseudonym James Watts, it seems likely that he would also publish the London paper pseudonymously, and Waller seems a similarly nondescript W-name.
If nothing else, establishing a London bureau of his successful American paper is the kind of thing Leslie would do. He was born in England, and while he gained valuable experience in the illustrated newspaper business there, his own ventures were largely unsuccessful. Once he moved to New York, however, his fortunes changed and he became, as Brown quotes, "the pioneer and founder of illustrated journalism in America" (Brown quoting J.C. Derby, "The Days' Doings"). Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper was the first successful illustrated paper in America, and from what is known about the proud and entrepreneurial Leslie, it seems likely that he would be anxious to extend his American success by publishing a successful London paper.
In a letter from the early years of his authorial career, Mark Twain explains to Jervis Langdon, the father of his future wife Olivia, that he has heard from a friend in the newspaper business that Frank Leslie is interested in having him edit a new paper he hopes to issue. The letter was written December 2, 1868; the first issue of The Days' Doings (London) appeared a little more than a year later. Of course there is no way of knowing whether Leslie was interested in having Twain edit the London edition of his growing Days' Doings, especially since no one is sure if a meeting between the two ever occurred around that time. But the correspondence at least confirms that Leslie was inventing new projects at about the time The Days' Doings (London) appeared.
If the short life of The Days' Doings (London) is any indication, the paper was not as successful abroad as it was at home. Brown explains that The Days' Doings (New York) was designed to be a weekly newspaper, but that Leslie and company often had difficulty publishing it on time (Brown, "The Days' Doings"). The London edition of the paper also seems to have been published sporadically until at least Vol. I, Issue 15 from November 5th, 1870, the first issue held by the library. After that, the issue numbers of the papers in the library's collection indicate that publication did become truly weekly. But by February 1872, the publisher changed the title of the publication to Here and There, a name which suggests less regularity and specificity of content than The Days' Doings. Perhaps by early 1872 Waller (or Leslie, or whoever he hired to conduct the paper in London), was again having difficulty publishing a weekly paper full of recent "news" and attempted to keep the publication alive by reducing the frequency of its publication or the standard of its content. In any event, a little less than two years after it began, the London edition of The Days' Doings came to an end, outlived by its American parent.
The four issues of The Days' Doings (London) that make up the collection are bound together into a single folio volume with brown paper covers. The first issue is Vol. I, No. 15 (Saturday, November 5, 1870); the second is Vol. I, No. 19 (Saturday, December 3, 1870); the third is Vol. I, No. 23 (Saturday, December 31, 1870); and the fourth Vol. II, No. 31 (Saturday, February 25, 1871). The issues were collected into this volume because they each contain a piece by Mark Twain. The finding aid lists each headline that appears in the library's collection; if the article is illustrated the finding aid entry indicates the illustration's location. For more details on the Twain articles that brought these issues of The Days' Doings together, please see the end of this note.
Each issue of 16 pages is laid out in the same way.
The cover page features a full page illustration: in the first two issues, the cover artwork connects to an article on page 2; in the third issue the cover illustration is a recreation of a painting by Etty; in the fourth issue the cover illustration celebrates the end of the pantomime season but does not relate to an article.
Pages 2 and 3 are text pages. Each page has four columns of text.
Pages 4 and 5 alternate illustrations and articles that relate to them.
Pages 6 and 7 are text pages.
Page 8 contains two half-page illustrations related to articles on other pages.
Page 9 is a full-page illustration. Pages 10 and 11 are again text pages.
Page 12 is a full page illustration.
Page 13 alternates illustrations and related stories.
Page 14 is the last full page of text.
Page 15 is an advertising page, containing mostly un-illustrated ads ranging in length from a single line of text to 25 lines of text.
Page 16 is the back cover, containing two or three large illustrations.
Text pages contain both articles and fictional stories. Some of these articles are specific, such as "Arrest of the Notorious Brigand Polone" on page 2 of I.15 (Nov. 5). Short articles not worthy of their own headlines are collected under general headings on the text pages. "Jots and Tittles" on page 2 of each issue is a collection of jokes and social commentaries. "The Days' Doings" appears multiple times in each issue and collects short news articles without illustration. Short articles related to the Franco-Prussian War (July 1870-May 1871) are collected under the heading "War Doings." Short accounts of incidents occurring in countries outside Britain are collected under "Doings Abroad." "Doings in Paris" occurs in I.15 (Nov. 5) and I.19 (Dec. 3); "Dramatic Doings" in I.15 (Nov. 5) and I.23 (Dec. 31); and "Funny Doings" in I.19 (Dec. 3).
Fictional stories on the text pages include the serialized "Pablo, the Strong-Arm; Or, the Gold Diggers of California" (parts of Books II, III and IV), the serialized "Amongst the Leicestershire Bullfinches: A Tale of Love and Hunting" (chapter II only in I.23), "Tales--Some Odd, Some Fantastic" (II.31), the serialized "Hearts Above Par: A Romance of the Period" (chapter VI only in II.31) and the Twain stories. Humorous articles in the vein of Twain's contributions include "New Year's Dirge: A Poem" (I.23), "Calendar for 1871: Warranted not to contain an item of trustworthy information--From Punch's Almanack" (I.23), and "The Manufacture of History" (I.23). I.23 (Dec. 31) also contains "Infection, and How to Avoid It" for the edification of readers, along with several articles about St. Nicholas and holiday gift giving.
The text pages are filled out with single line "articles" at the bottoms of pages. The first phrase of each of these "articles" is listed in quotation marks in the finding aid, e.g. "A respectable middle-aged man came before Mr. Paget the other day..." (I.15).
News articles in The Days' Doings, both those collected under general headings and those with their own headlines and illustrations, met the Victorian taste for the romantic and the fantastic. Stories of suicide, murder and execution are frequently featured, along with accounts of accidents: floods, balloon crashes, blasting accidents, etc. Romantic intrigues were also regularly reported: interrupted weddings ("An Interrupted Wedding in Wales," I.15); white women seduced by black servants ("The Black Bell-Boy and the Fair Belle," I.19); women saved from improper relationships ("A Romantic Young Lady in Liverpool Rescued by her Mother," I.15).
Women are often the subject of articles in The Days' Doings. Illustrations of accidents depict women being rescued ("The Basket-ferry," I.15) or narrowly escaping danger ("Miraculous Escape of a Child in Glamorganshire," II.31). Articles such as "Female Ice Boaters" (II.31) and "A French Heroine: A Girl from Colmar Commands a Corps of Free-Shooters in the Vosges" (I.23) report women doing dangerous and exciting things, or participating in activities usually reserved for men.
Happenings on the stages of London and continental Europe are also featured in the paper. "Dramatic Doings" reports on coming productions, the building of theatres, and important events in the lives of actors. The issues collected in the library's volume also capture a public debate about the dancing of the can-can in British theatres: magistrates apparently attempted to end the performance of the can-can due to its indecency ("The managers of several London theatres…" and "Who is to Draw the Line?" I.15; "The Can-Can," I.19).
The four Twain articles are as follows:
"Map of Paris" (I.15). Common title: "Mark Twain's Map of Paris." Published in The Galaxy, Nov. 1870, with a fold-out map (held by the library: Rare Books Collection AC85 C5915 L870m v.10). Twain's preface to the piece in The Galaxy explains that it was originally published in "my own paper" – at the time, Twain owned a stake in The Buffalo Express. The version in The Galaxy begins with a preface about the map's popularity and the demand for copies; Twain also suggests how the Prussians could use it to win the war. The map was not part of the "Memoranda" Twain regularly wrote for The Galaxy, rather its own feature. It seems that Twain edited the piece slightly for publication in The Days' Doings, catering to his European audience by substituting European figures for American ones in the "Official Commendation."
"An Awful, Terrible Medieval Romance" (I.19). Common title: "A Medieval Romance." First published in The Buffalo Express (1 January 1870). Issued as a book in 1871 by Sheldon and Co. (publishers of The Galaxy). Published again in 1872 in a British edition of Twain's collected works, and in 1875 in Mark Twain's Sketches, New and Old, which the library holds (RBC PS1319 A1 1875b).
"A Philosophic Undertaker." (I.23). This piece appeared under numerous titles: in the November 1870 issue of The Galaxy (RBC AC85 C5915 L870m v.10) it was titled "A Reminiscence of the Black Settlements," and was part of the monthly "Memoranda" that Twain wrote for the magazine; the title in Mark Twain's Sketches, New and Old (1875) is "The Undertaker's Chat." Apparently Twain despised undertakers following the death of his niece Jenny in 1864.
"Mark Twain Edits an Agricultural Paper" (II.31). Common title "How I Edited an Agricultural Paper Once." First published in The Galaxy, July 1870 as part of that month's "Memoranda" (RBC AC85 C5915 L870m v.10) The version that appears in The Galaxy is slightly longer—it includes Twain's response to the real editor of the paper: "I tell you I have been in the agricultural business going on fourteen years, and it is the first time I ever heard of a man's having to know anything in order to edit a newspaper..."
- University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
- Finding Aid Author
- Ellen Williams
- Finding Aid Date
- The processing of this collection was made possible through generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources' "Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives" Project.
- Access Restrictions
This collection is open for research use