Meant to appeal to the working class.
“Labourers like Christopher Thompson were willing to go without food to buy it, enthusiastic letters from worker readers can still be read in the Society’s archives, and as late as 1842 a brick-burner in the potteries wrote on behalf of his workers to protect against the reduction in the amount of poetry in the magazine” (James, Fiction for the Working Man, 1830-1850, p.15).
This magazine, published by the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, in 1832 had a circulation of 200 000, with a readership estimated at five times this number per week.
Charles Knight, the printer, boasted that The Penny Magazine "produced a revolution in popular art throughout the world."
"Because of their markedly pictorial character they offered a cultural experience that did not necessarily require formal education or even basic literacy...From the outset its hallmark was illustration, and most of its miscellaneous written material had the enhancement of elaborate diagrams of scientific and mechanical devices; accurate representations of plants, animals, foreign lands...But in [Charles] Knight's view his magazine's most distinctive feature and main selling point was its regular inclusion of large, well-executed engravings of works of art...reproduced in conjunction with a moralizing passage, the work of art took on a contemporary social or cultural connotation" (JNPH).