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Issue 01 – Easter 2020

The Publisher's Desk

The Publisher's Desk


The Lamp was founded in 1846 by Thomas Earnshaw Bradley, who would go on to edit many issues of the magazine from his cell in a debtors’ prison. His was among the first Catholic magazines in the English-speaking world, and it sold for only a penny (a fifth of the price of its earliest competitor, the Tablet, which has survived). There were very few subjects on which The Lamp did not publish articles, for Bradley was of the opinion that whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report, from the invention of the telegraph to the latest fiction, really belonged to the Church.

It was later purchased by Martha Lockhart, the daughter of a Tory Member of Parliament who distinguished himself during the administration of Pitt and a relation of John Gibson Lockhart, the most amusing writer of negative book reviews in the history of our language. (Does anyone now read his Life of his father-in-law, Sir Walter Scott, a work once held in the same esteem as Boswell?) Martha, a devout Anglican who attended cathedral services twice a day, was received into the Church under the influence of her son, William, the great friend and disciple of St. John Henry Newman whose conversion would occasion the latter’s famous “Parting of Friends” sermon. William was later ordained priest and became one of the most distinguished contributors to his mother’s magazine, which employed many poor young Catholics who were trained in the art of printing and paid honorable wages. Another illustrious contributor was Wilfrid Meynell, the eccentric biographer of Disraeli and friend of Cardinal Manning whose political enthusiasms included Irish Home Rule and Georgist land reform and who had the great fortune to discover the poet Francis Thompson. Meynell and his wife, Alice, were well-known entertainers whose house guests included Robert Browning, Stevenson, William Ernest Henley, George Meredith, Yeats, and Chesterton. Alice, who as a young woman had led her parents and siblings to the faith, had the misfortune of getting to know Coventry Patmore, who became infatuated with her, leading to the end of their friendship; she nevertheless wrote the very fair-minded entry on Patmore that appears in the old Catholic Encyclopedia. An anthology of her verse and prose writings was edited and introduced by (of all people) Vita Sackville-West. Their daughter Viola, one of eight, would later found the Nonesuch Press.

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