The Penny Post (1851–1896), a religious working-class magazine, was published following a critical time for the Oxford Movement, a High Church movement in the Church of England. The Oxford Movement's ideas were leaving the academic atmosphere of Oxford and traveling throughout the local parishes, where the ideals of Tractarian teachings met the harsh realities of practice and the motivations and beliefs of the working-class parishioners. The upper-class paternalistic ideologies of the Oxford Movement were not reflected in the parishes, and the working-classes felt distanced from their place in religious worship. The Penny Post was published and written by Tractarian clergymen and followers to "triumph in the Working Man's Home," attempting to convince a working-class audience that the upper-class Tractarian clergymen and parishioners both understood and wanted to help the poorer peoples of society. However, an analysis of the Penny Post reveals that its creators had more complex motives and were targeting a more diverse audience than they claimed. Because of these complexities, the Penny Post's creators could not reconcile the discrepancies between working-class ideologies and upper-class ideologies; the Penny Post, in the end, undermined its own intended purposes. The elements of the magazine that attempted to address working-class concerns were overshadowed by other elements that, while appearing to address working-class concerns, directly targeted an upper-class audience. This dichotomy of purpose—simultaneously addressing different classes with different, often contradictory, beliefs—reveals the multifaceted nature of the Penny Post's efforts to reach their audiences. The Penny Post is a magazine that simultaneously addresses an upper-class audience and a working-class audience, a duality that creates ideological contradictions and tensions throughout the magazine. These tensions reflect the class issues within Victorian society and the ways religious movements dealt with those tensions in periodicals like the Penny Post. The Penny Post provides an important look into how the Oxford Movement, a movement not known for its understanding of and interest in the working classes, did attempt to reach and understand the working classes through periodical literature.



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Humanities; English



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Penny Post, Victorian periodicals, Oxford Movement, Tractarian, religion, working class, upper class, magazine