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HBooks is an online reference work, a database containing some 2700 records of articles about history, published between 1809 and 1916, in nineteen Victorian periodicals – magazines, journals and reviews aimed at various reading publics. “History” might refer to the past itself, to the burgeoning academic discipline, or to the flourishing literary genre. The genres of historical writing in periodicals include book reviews, scholarly narratives, anecdotes, comic and satiric discourse, and other kinds of text, all building on Victorian Britons’ preoccupation with the past of their own country, of their empire and of the world. 

HBooks is a selective and representative array of materials; it makes no claim to be comprehensive. Hosted by the Centre for Digital Humanities site from 2020, HBooks is not expected to change substantially. 

The records in HBooks are fully searchable. The bibliographies are organized in two ways. Each periodical appears separately, sorted chronologically. And a “Full Bibliography” combines all records, again in chronological order, to permit comparisons within a period of time. 

Each record relates to a single article in a specific periodical and contains the author’s name (if known), the title of the article or review, the issue number and date of the article, and a brief summary note on the content, written by HBooks researchers. This note describes the subject matter and, if possible, the tone of the article in question. In the case of book reviews, it includes a short identification of the book under review, including its publisher. When anonymous articles have been attributed by scholars, the source of attribution is noted. The notes should allow users to find the books under review, or to seek out the articles in full-text online databases available through most academic libraries.

Headnotes on the periodicals’ audiences, editors and proprietors have been drawn from the entries in Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century Journalism, eds. Laurel Brake and Marysa Demoor (Academic Press and The British Library, 2009 and available online to subscribers through ProQuest’s C19 portal). DNCJ not only offers a more extensive account of most of the periodicals but also contains a bibliography of books and articles about all aspects of the Victorian periodical press and the history of journalism in the period. For further information on DNCJ go to In the case of those periodicals captured in the Wellesley Index to Victorian Periodicals, extensive essays with precise details of proprietors, publishers, editors and contributors may be found in that publication.

HBooks is not an attribution database like the Wellesley Index or its successor the Curran Index. However, in cases where authorship is anonymous in the periodical itself but has been traced by attribution researchers, the source of the attribution is noted. 

For further details about the research methodology and the project history, see Howsam’s article “Mediated histories: how did Victorian periodicals parse the past?” (Victorian Periodicals Review, Vol. 50, no. 4: 2017).