chapter  12
‘You ought to see my phonograph’
The visual wonder of recorded sound (1877–1900)
ByElodie A. Roy
Pages 13

This chapter retraces the cultural emergence of Edison's phonographs as they progressively became entwined with domestic and public leisure practices in the late Victorian era. Edison's envision phonography and the discourses which surrounded it as sites of negotiation for modern British identities. The chapter argues that the phonograph first reached Victorian audiences and households through the visual medium and the flourishing world of newspapers, advertisements and cartoons. The Edison Speaking Phonograph Company was established in the USA in April 1878 to regional demonstration rights to exhibitors', by which individuals purchased the right to exhibit a phonograph within a protected territory'. As Nicholas Daly points out in a piece about the Victorians and technology, few aspects of Victorian life escaped the impact of industrialization. The chapter provides a retrospective reading or reconstruction of the phonographic experience which is inevitably partial.