International History of Magazines 3: Spain and Portugal


There is no volume-length general history of Spanish of magazines beyond Sánchez Vigil (q.v.), most studies of the press focussing on newpapers. In the Spanish case, however, the instability between newspaper and magazine is especially notable: José Maria Carnereo’s Revista española (1831-1836), for instance, underwent not only several different changes of name and a merger but also frequency and content (weekly to daily, cultural commentary to politics). Such instability means that there is a good deal about what the present-day researcher may regard as “magazines” in what appear to be newspaper histories.

While the Spanish news press began around the same time as elsewhere in Europe (the best-known being the monthly Gaceta de Madrid, 1661-2), it did not spread due to rigorous press censorship. The non-news magazine arrived several decades later than in France or Britain, the first literary magazine being the Diario de los literatos de Espana (1737-1742) which modelled itself on the French Journal des Savants. The Spanish medical magazine, on the other hand, is preceded only by the French, the Semestre Médico Clínico appearing in 1750 (the earlier monthly Efemérides barométrico matritenses 1734-1747, was not only medical but meteorological as well). While the figure of Nipho (1719-1803) is mainly associated with newspapers, inspired by the English Spectator, he also founded magazines such as El Pensador (1762), which in turn led to the founding of the influential promoter of Enlightenment values El Censor (1781-1787).

After the concept of the freedom of the press was enshrined in Spanish law in 1810, the press expanded enormously, and literary magazines flourished in the 1820s. As in Italy, politicians actively used the press to pursue their careers and disseminate their ideas. Later in the century, some notable satiric periodicals were published, including the illustrated La Flaca (1869-1876) which appeared under various titles to avoid the revived censorship laws.

Press histories began to be written late: Manuel Chaves’s Historia y Bibliografia de la prensa sevillana did not appear until 1896. In the twentieth century until Franco’s dictatorship, and in marked contrast to Britain and North America, the most influential figures in journalism were not reporters but intellectuals, such as José Ortega y Gasset.

Portuguese magazine history has been even less mapped than Spanish, and as in Spain the distinction between newspaper and magazine is not always net. While the Gazeta de Lisboa (1715) may be regarded as first Portuguese (news) magazine, and, as in Spain, literary periodicals played an important role in eighteenth-century Portugal (even if they were often quickly suppressed), magazines only thrived (to the extent they did) after liberalisation of press censorship in the 1820s. The similarities of Portuguese magazine history to that of other countries can be misleading however. The profusely illustrated O Panorama (1837-1868) from the Sociedade Propagadora dos Conhecimentis Uteis is, for example, unlike its British analogue the Penny Magazine, considered to be one of the major carriers of Portuguese romanticism. But even by 1892 W.T. Stead (q.v.) was suggesting that the Revista de Portugal  (1889-92) “appears to be almost, if not quite, the only Portuguese magazine of any standing” (p.64), a view of the comparative poverty of Portuguese magazine history supported by Portuguese magazine historians themselves ((Rocha, q.v. pp. 20-21).  The first history of the Portuguese press was Pereira’s O Jornalismo Portuguêz in 1896, after his monumental 12 volume Dicionário Jornalístico Português of the previous year.

In the twentieth century magazine development was hindered by the comparative isolation of Spain and Portugal caused by their dictatorships (Franco in Spain 1939-1975; Salazar in Portugal 1926-1968, followed by Caetano 1968-1974). These imposed strict press regulation and, until the 1960s, kept standards of living lower than in the rest of western Europe. Neither stopped the vigorous production of Little Magazines, however, as attested by Rocha and Pires (q.v.). Since the 1980s, the history of the Iberian magazine  has been much more commercially successful, as witnessed by the global success of the Spanish celebrity magazine ¡Hola! now published in over 100 countries.


Aparicio, Pedro Gomez. 1967 – 1981 Historia del periodismo español. 4 vols. Madrid: Editora Nacional.

Organised chronologically this is an impressive and still authoritative achievement, covering both newspaper and magazine history. The first volume traces the beginnings of the press in Spain to the 1868; volume 2 to the end of the nineteenth century;  volume 3 to 1923 and volume 4 to the Civil War. Each volume has helpful indexes covering, separately, relevant laws, periodicals, names of people.

Aranda J.J. Sanchez, and Carlos Barrera. 1992. Historia del periodismo español desde sus origenes hasta 1975. Pamplona: Ediciones Universidad de Navarra

A serious study that offers a combined history of magazines and newspapers from their beginnings in Spain to 1975. A useful “Orientacion bibliografica” at the end offers a discursive selective bibliography of secondary sources up to the middle of the 1980s, but the precise sources of nuggets of information is rarely forthcoming.

Barrera, Carlos. 2000. El periodismo espanol en su historia. Barcelona: Editorial Ariel.

While there is a discursive history of journalism in Spain (both newspaper and magazine), most of this pedagogically useful little volume comprises extracts from the Spanish press itself concerning its own history. These are organised chronologically starting from the “Prólogo” to volume 5 of  the Diario de los Literatos de España in 1738 and finishing with an editorial from El Mundo from 1998.

Chorão, Luís Bigotte. 2002. O Periodismo jurídico português do século XIX. Lisboa: Imprensa Nacional-Case da Moeda

An unusual bibliographical study of the legal press in nineteenth-century Portugal, rightly claiming to break new ground in legal historiography after the multi-authored volume on the contemporary Portuguese legal press that had appeared in 1997 (La Revista Jurídica en la Cultura Contemporanea, Buenos Aries: Victor Tau Anzitegui). After methodological introduction and a chapter outlining the history of legal press in Portugal, most of the volume comprises descriptions of legal magazines organised chronologically. Indexes of contributors, magazines and an extensive bibliography complete the volume.

Pires, Daniel. 1996. Dicionário  da Imprensa Periódica Literarária Portuguesa do Século XX (1900-1940). Lisbon: Grifo

This reference text actually covers a longer period than the title suggests, and includes entries organised alphabetically on popular magazines such as O Ocidente (1878-1915) as well as little magazines. Further helpful elements include a chronology covering 1900-1940 of when each magazine mentioned is begun, indexes of where magazines were published and an index of names of people.

Rocha, Clara. 1985. Revistas Literárias do Século XX em Portugal. Lisbon: Imprensa Nacional-Casa da Moeda.

An ambitious and impressive attempt to discuss over 200 magazines from 1900 to 1984 first from a sociological perspective and then from an intertextual (by picking up recurrent themes), this deserves to be more widely known for its methodologically rigorous procedures that are applicable to other kinds of magazines in other countries.

Schulte, H.F. The Spanish Press 1470-1966: Print, Power and Politics. Urbana, Chicago, London: University of Illinois Press, 1968

After 3 chapters discussing the history of press regulation under Franco, the rest of the volume follows a chronological narrative from the introduction of printing into Spain to the start of the Franco dictatorship. A brief final chapter speculates about the effect of the new press law in 1966. While the focus is most definitely on the press as the Fourth Estate, Schulte takes it for granted that magazines played as vital a role as newspapers. But it also means that magazines targetting women, children and fiction readers are not described.

Sousa, Jorge Pedro, Helena Lima, Antonio Hohlfeldt, Marialva Barbosa. A History of the Press in the Portuguese-Speaking Countries. Ramada, Portugal : Editora Media XXI, 2014.

The first book in English on the history of the press in Portuguese-speaking countries, and accordingly valuable, the first four chapters (almost 400 pages) cover the press in Portugal, the following three in Brazil, and the final two in Galicia and in Portuguese Colonies. The volume, excellent as it is as an entry point into the history of the press in Portugal, is unfortunately marred by poor production values and non-standard English.

Tengarrinha, José. 1989. História da Imprensa Periódica Portuguesa, 2nd revised and expanded edition. Lisbib: Caminho.

While focussing almost entirely on the newspaper press in Portugal (though magazines are mentioned, and there is some adversion to the Brazilian press), this remains useful for general background on the regulatory, social and technological background.

Vigil, Juan Miguel Sanchez. 2008. Revistas ilustradas en España: del Romanticismo a la guerra civil. Gijón Trea.

A valuable contribution to the history of illustrated magazines from 1830 to 1838, addressing issues (such as the definition of a magazine) that will be familiar to students of the magazine in the Anglo-American tradition. Much of the work is concerned to map the field through bibliographical description, including graphic artist contributors. There are full-colour reproductions illustrating the range of illustrated magazines.


ARCA: arxiu de Revistas Catalanes Antiques

Fully text-searchable open access digital facsimiles of (as of September 2015) 363 newspaper and magazines relevant to Catalonia (including material published abroad by Catalonian exiles), put online by the Biblioteca de Catalunya and the Consortium of Catalan University Libraries. The coverage is mainly from 1761 to 1939, though there is some material up to 2006. The interface is in Catalan and English.

Biblioteca Virtual de Prensa Histórica

A fully text-searchable database of almost 2000 historical Spanish newspapers and magazines starting with the 1777 La pensatriz salmantina and reaching 2013 (as of writing in 2015). The search interface is available in English and several Spanish dialects and languages.

Hemeroteca municipal de Lisboa

Published by the Bibliotecas de Lisboa, this offers a different selection from of Portuguese newspapers and magazines in the public domain from Publicações Periódicas, including different issues of same publications and different publications. The text is not searchable.

Hemeroteca Digital. Biblioteca nacional de España

Text searchable database of currently 1065 historic Spanish newspapers and magazines in the National library of Spain. As with the Biblioteca Virtual de Prensa Histórica the interface is avialbel in English, Spanish and various Spanish dialects and languages.

Biblioteca nacional digital. Biblioteca nacional de Portugal : Publicações periódicas

A good deal of this collection is available only on the National Library of Portugal’s local network. From elsewhere one can download PDFs of individual numbers of around 300 historic periodicals, searchable only by title, which limits its usefulness unless one knows beforehand the content one is searching for, where and when.

Published by

Andrew King

Andrew King is Professor of English Literature and Literary Studies at the University of Greenwich. He has always been interested in how and why certain texts are kept for posterity and others disappear. His first degree was in classical and medieval Latin, and he has MAs in Medieval Studies and English. He completed his PhD in English at Birkbeck, supervised by Laurel Brake. He taught for many years at Universities overseas, though immediately before he came to Greenwich in May 2012, taught at Canterbury Christ Church University. His official profile can be found at

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