Christian Isobel Johnstone
) was a prolific
journalist and author in Scotland in the nineteenth century. She
was a significant early feminist
advocate of other liberal causes in her era.
likely the Christian Todd who was born on 12 June 1781 in the
Edinburgh parish of St. Cuthbert.
She married at the
age of sixteen, to an Edinburgh printer named Thomas McCleish; they
separated in 1805, and she divorced him in 1814. Christian married John
Johnstone, a Dunfermline schoolmaster turned Edinburgh printer, in June
Christian Isobel Johnstone wrote a number of popular fiction works
in three and four volumes, for adults and juvenile readers. Her
novel Clan-Albin: A National Tale
) was perhaps her best-known work;
she also wrote The Saxon and the Gaël
), and "her best novel,"
Elizabeth de Bruce
), among other titles. Johnstone also
wrote non-fiction books on a range of subjects, like Scenes of
Industry Displayed in the Beehive and the Anthill
The Lives and Voyages of Drake, Cavendish, and Dampier
). These books, like most of
Johnstone's volumes, were printed anonymously. Her The Cook and
(1826) was issued under the pseudonym
Margaret Dods. It was only late in her life, as with The
she was identified by name on her title pages.
She and her second husband started and ran several periodicals —
, The Edinburgh Weekly Magazine
and others. In 1832
, the year of
the first Reform Bill
Johnstones founded Johnstone's Edinburgh Magazine
voice for the causes they favored. The periodical struggled
financially, and in 1834
combined with another new journal, Tait's Magazine
. (The Johnstones
insisted that the cover price of Tait's
be cut by more
than half, to 1 shilling
copy, to make the magazine available to the widest possible
audience.) Isobel Johnstone continued as a major contributor to
, and in effect served as the magazine's editor
under publisher William Tait; she was "the first woman to serve as
paid editor of a major Victorian periodical...."
- Dorothy McMillan, "Figuring the Nation: Christian Isobel
Johnstone as Novelist and Editor," Études Écossaises, Vol.
9 (2004), pp. 27-41.
- Ralph Jessup, "Margaret Oliphant, Christian Isobel Johnstone,"
in: A History of Scottish Women's Writing, edited by
Douglas Gifford and Dorothy McMillan, Edinburgh, Edinburgh
University Press, 1997; pp. 216-231.
- Alexis Easley, First Person Anonymous: Women Writers and
the Victorian Print Media, 1830–1870, London, Ashgate,
- Ian Duncan, Scott's Shadow: The Novel in Romantic
Edinburgh, Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press, 2007; p.
- Duncan, p. 298.