American Scrapbook; or, Adventures in Nineteenth Century Literary Culture

From Ainsworth's Magazine, 1841
This blog takes its name - and, indeed, its masthead - from The American Scrapbook, a magazine published in London from 1861-1863. It was one of a number of British journals that took advantage of the lack of international copyright, pirating American writing for a domestic audience eager for Transatlantic entertainment. It seems a fitting lineage for this project: an equally miscellaneous compendium of Transatlantic nineteenth-century literature and culture, made possible in large part by the explosion of digitised, copyright-free material that has taken place over the last decade or so. A record of my journeys through the literary backroads of the nineteenth century, there will be no overarching theme to what's posted here. But, by way of warning, there's likely to be quite a bit about the Mississippi River, Mark Twain, popular literature, Transatlantic currents, Walter Scott, outlaws, and an emphasis on the fugitive and forgotten. Things will be conversational, and I'll try to avoid academic pedantry (but I'll still cite my sources, partly out of habit, but also because of utility, for me if nobody else). In short, just as the title suggests, it will be a personal scrapbook documenting my adventures in nineteenth century literary culture - the kind of miscellany suggested by William Harrison Ainsworth's crowded library table, above - but one which I hope is of more than immediately personal interest. If nothing else it will give me an outlet for all the strange ephemera that I can't find another home for, but that I don't want to forget. And if anything here makes you curious about my other writing, this is my day job, my official blog's here, and please feel free to drop me a line.

Thomas Ruys Smith