Editor: Dr Tim
© Dr Tim Harding
20 March 2020
Tim Harding's British Chess Literature to 1914, published in April 2018, provides a unique glimpse into chess history through the prism of writings about the game.
This was recognised by the Chess Journalists of America in awarding it the honour of Best Book for 2018 in the Best Book - Other category.
The first printing sold out and McFarland reprinted it, with some corrections. Some retailers may still have copies of the first printing.
The academic journal Victorian Periodicals Review also praised the book highly (PDF). Some sections of the book were developed from an article, "Kings and Queens at Home" that Tim wrote many years ago for that publication and which is currently available online to read and download.
Table of Contents.
Here is an introduction to what the book contains:
A huge amount was published about chess in the United Kingdom before the First World War. In this book, the first of its kind, the author combines new information about the early history of the game with valuable advice for researchers into chess history. The book greatly develops the bibliographical material which was available on this website for the last few years.
The chapters about books and specialist magazines trace how the growing popularity of chess in Victorian Britain was reflected in an increasingly competitive market of publications aimed at the whole spectrum of players from beginner to expert. In some cases the author traces the further development of chess literature well into the twentieth century.
The chapter on The Chess Player's Chronicle, for example, begins by examining in detail that magazine's little-known precursor, The British Miscellany. Special attention is also paid to lesser-known episodes in the history of that magazine, such as the Third Series and the little-known late years that ended with The Chess Chronicle in 1901 and 1902. The chapter about other chess magazines mentions several short-lived ones that the author has seen, and examines in some detail the question of who edited the early volumes of The Chess Player's Magazine, as previous writers have mostly got this wrong.
Other topics covered include the leading chess libraries and the use of digitized chess texts and research on the Web. Further appendices include corrections and supplements to standard works of reference on chess. For example, there are corrections to The Oxford Companion to Chess and several additions and amendments to the birth and death details of players in Gaige's standard work Chess Personalia.
Special attention is devoted to the chess columns that appeared in newspapers (both national and provincial) and in magazines of various kinds from 1813 onwards. These articles, which usually appeared weekly, provide a wealth of information on early chess, much of which is not to be found elsewhere.
A major feature is an annotated bibliographical appendix listing all known British and Irish chess columns published up to the First World War. This includes many additions and corrections to the late Ken Whyld's book Chess Columns: A List. Tony Gillam (of The Chess Player) was of great assistance in this part of the work.
We intend to post herepage images of the rare Irish column in Our School Times (the subject of an appendix to the book) as soon as we have a spare couple of hours. They were previously posted here some years ago.