Illustrated London Magazine (not to be confused w/ ILN) and Elijah Williams

ILM v1+v2 (Jul-Dec 1853, Jan-Jun 1854), v3+v4 (Jul-Dec 1854, Jan-Jun 1855), v5 (Jul-Dec 1855)

(Beware – Google books has wrong dating for some volumes, using publication date and not content date)

First word of advice, don’t confuse the Illustrated London Magazine with the magazine Illustrated London News as <zanzibar> (i.e. me) did:

Premium Chessgames Member
MissScarlett: From October 1853 (I think)to his end, Williams contributed a chess column to the monthly <Illustrated London Magazine>. Publicity material described him as <the great Chess Player>.
Premium Chessgames Member
zanzibar<<Ms> From October 1853 (I think) to his end, Williams contributed a chess column to the monthly <Illustrated London Magazine>.>What’s your source for this?

In my columnist notes I have Staunton doing ILN from 1844-1874 as given in a footnote by Sergaent (see 3rd link on blog page under ILN).  [ed- all these assertions are correct but irrelevant since…]

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MissScarlett: The <ILN> was a weekly; the <ILM>, a monthly, as stated. Two separate publications. The <ILM> only began in 1853; it changed its name some time in 1855.Here’s one of its volumes (post-Williams):…

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zanzibar: Ah, thanks, my mistake then.
I’ll add Williams to my list – but I think I still need a ref for the editorship mentioned don’t I?

Second piece of advice, don’t make assertions of fact without providing reference(s) to back them up, as <MissScarlett> did. Third piece of advice, when somebody asks you for the missing reference, please provide it, even if their question contains some auxiliary erroneous mistake in need of correcting.

The late item is really just asking for basic courtesy between chess historians, after all – we like to get the facts right in all departments, whenever feasible. And if not feasible, we should note the limitations.

OK, with that out of the way, let’s discuss both this somewhat obscure magazine, which has a short run of chess columns, and Elijah Williams, who definitely wrote a number of the columns. But it would be nice to know when the Illustrated London Magazine ran chess columns, and when exactly Williams contributed them. We need to explore this using contemporaneous sources.

As an aside, let me say that I’m always interested in collecting such information for any and all chess columnists/editors and their publications:   (Chess Columnists and Editors)

It was because I wanted to accurately update this page that I inquired about a ref in the first place. Since many chess columns were written without attribution matching who was writing what, where and when can be a difficult game.

The actual magazine, let’s abbreviate as ILM, only had five initial volumes issued, each for half a year, for a span of July 1853 to December 1855.  The general editor was always R.B. Knowles (i.e. Richard Brinsley Knowles).  It was resurrected for a new series run, which may or may not have involved Knowles. Sinces the new series didn’t have a chess column (afaik), it’s not of interest to us:

Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature (F.W. Bateson), v1-5 — ILM entry p829

Our issue is determining which chess columns were contributed by Elijah Williams, who definitely was involved in the initiation of the column:

Chess.—For the sake of those readers who are chess-players, we have engaged for the present and subsequent numbers of the “Illustrated London Magazine,” the valuable services of Mr. Williams, the celebrated chess-player. In each month he will supply the latest games of any interest played by the best players.

                                                                                                                                  — ILM v1 (Aug 1853) p96

The column was introduced in the magazine with the following commentary:


Is accordance with our design, as set forth in the address to our readers at the beginning of this work, we have determined to furnish the “agreeable and amusing” to the full extent of our means. It is therefore with pleasure to ourselves and we hope with satisfaction to our subscribers, that wo have been able to complete arrangements with one of the most distinguished Chess magnates of the day for supplying to the pages of this magazine, every month, Chess contributions of such rare value as can only be afforded by a very limited class.

The rapidly increasing interest now felt for the royal game by almost all orders of the community will, we hope, be deemed a sufficient apology, if any be needed, for our painstaking in this department of our duties, and the latter be reckoned as a guarantee for the success of our exertions.

The plan we propose to adopt is briefly this— not only to give original Chess matter in the shape of first-class London Chess games actually and recently played by first-rate masters, together with skilful problems on diagrams, bat (with the view to impart instruction to the novice) to supply a series of elementary lessons, and some clear and concise rules for commencing the game. The laws of Chess, with remarks thereon, Chess intelligence, &c., &c, will also have their places.

                                                                                                                                — ILM v1 (Aug 1853) p95

Clearly Mr. Williams was involved in the column’s inception, and is indeed explicitly credited in the index of v1:

ILM v1 – index

These correspond to a continuous series of Aug, Sept and Oct 1853, with a run of eleven numbered games and three numbered problems. This article also introduced an Elementary Lessons for Young Players section which never seemed to be taken up again. The next issue, in November 1853, finds this notice:

ILM v2 – index

The chess column didn’t reappear until v2, when it showed up in the March 1854 issue on p105 (beware page swap in google book’s version, scroll up, not down, to next page). The v2 index lists chess as an item, but we no longer find Williams name attached:However, one might argue that this column was submitted by Williams as it continued the numbering of both games and problems, presumably his convention. But this is thin gruel, and I would prefer to not speculate beyond this observation, the responsible historian I try to be. The chess article, fwiw, wasn’t placed at the end of issue as previously, but towards the front of the volume. It could have been Knowles, finally deciding to publish Williams last contribution that had been previously contributed, or it could have been Williams fulfilling a contractual obligation to supply four articles, or it could have been an interim writer following Williams style. Who knows, but we know for certain it’s the only chess column appearing in volume 2.

The chess column reappears with some regularly starting in volume three’s Sept. 1854 issue, p106, and continuing thereafter. No longer are the games numbered, although the problems are numbered (not sure if the sequence matches, at the moment). A game or two of Williams appears in the selection, but his name is not mentioned in the text (as a writer) or in the index. Given that he died in Sept 1854, he certainly was no longer writing the column,  nor does it seem likely he contributed any of these columns beforehand.

ILM v3 – index

ILM v4 – index

ILM v5 – index

In conclusion, we can say William definitely wrote the first three, and maybe even the fourth, chess columns for the ILM. Knowles then continued the series, possibly aided by an unnamed chess expert. Many of the games after Williams’ tenure come from Kling’s Rooms games, so maybe even Kling himself was involved. One cannot be sure, but it’s a distinct possibility.

To finish, I should mention the following link also has a nice writeup on ILM and chess by Michael Clapham (whose blog is a must for lovers of both chess and books):

PS – In volume 5 there was another chess article, entitled “The Game of Chesse”, on p104, which wasn’t a regular column, but rather a “Tribute to the Memory of William Caxton”. The following illustration comes from that article:

ILM v5 (Aug 1855) p106 (Caxton illustration)




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