'Ally Sloper's Half-Holiday': Interdisciplinary Approaches to Readership Communities

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


The primary question I am researching in my PhD, and what I would seek to explore in this workshop, is how did periodicals create loyal communities of readers? Using an interdisciplinary combination of historical approaches and literary criticism to approach periodical culture and its readership, several key elements from the newspaper’s branding to the social impact of new technologies can all be seen to influence the wide range of readership communities. The case study of
Ally Sloper’s Half-Holiday provides a unique perspective on readership communities, as the huge, loyal weekly readers were a fundamental part of the paper itself. From its pioneering use of regular comic characters, the periodical and fans alike acted as Sloper and his family were real people. The ‘Friend of Man’ branding was particularly prominent, and readers often signed themselves as friends of Sloper when writing into the paper. Official and unofficial merchandise was produced, and readers were keen to demonstrate their loyalty to the paper, often sparking jealousies over the paper’s best-known competition: the weekly pocket watch competition, which ran from 1886-1891. Through the increases in literacy, the cheaper means of production, and the fun, engaging content of the paper, the editors of Ally Sloper established a network of readers entirely at a distance. The press was a vehicle of communication, but also of long-distance connection, and papers like Ally Sloper successfully established loyal communities of actively engaged readers through their branding and marketing techniques.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jun 2023
Event11th International European Society for Periodicals Research: ESPRit - Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, United Kingdom
Duration: 27 Jun 202329 Nov 2023


Conference11th International European Society for Periodicals Research
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • Ally Sloper
  • Ally Sloper's Half-Holiday
  • Readership
  • Implied Reader
  • methodology

Research Centres

  • Research Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies


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