The South Australian Magazine was established as 'a Monthly Periodical to bring ... into active exercise' the 'sufficient talent ... known to exist in the Province'. The Magazine published articles of general interest on literary and scientific subjects 'the preference ... given to ... [pieces of a] colonial character' with anything of a 'party, political, or personal character' excluded. ('Prospectus of the South Australian Magazine', South Australian Magazine 1.1 (July, 1841): [back cover])
Interspersed with the more serious articles are 'lighter pieces' including verse inserted 'at such time, and in such a way, as may be best suited to produce a variety, or fill up a space in our pages.' These pieces were not returned to contributors but there was a stated policy to return unaccepted literary and scientific papers and to have those that were accepted proofed by the contributors in order 'that the utmost degree of correctness may be secured.' ('To Correspondents', South Australian Magazine 1.12 (September, 1842): inside front cover).
The Magazine is a small journal of good design, style and type with verse and shorter pieces complementing the longer articles. Each issue ends with a 'Monthly Record consisting of short local news items and listing births, deaths and marriages. The 'Prospectus' announced the Magazine as 'an advantageous medium for a select number of advertisement'' as the Magazine was 'intended to be bound up at the end of the year as works of reference [thereby being] among the most eligible mediums for permanent advertisements.' A copy of issue numbers 1-8 bound with advertisements at the back is held at the National Library of Australia. The first volume of the Magazine (numbers 1-12) was republished as a bound volume but with no advertisements.
Though much of the creative writing published seems to be by Australian writers with the majority South Australian colonists, some is reprinted from overseas periodicals, newspapers and books. These are not indexed. Two interesting contributions not indexed are a serial, 'Argalia' 'translated from the German of Madame Pichler for South Australian Magazine' probably by a colonist and, in the last issue, part one of a serial 'The Adventures of the Last Abencerage' 'translated from the French of Chateaubriand, by the late Edmund Morton, Esq.' A biography of Edmund Morton, seemingly a colonist, is attached to this first part. Among the non-fiction articles not indexed are 'On the Civilization of the Aborigines (vol. 2, no. 5, February, 1843) and 'Union of the Australasiatic Colonies under a General Governorship' (vol. 1, no. 9, May and June, 1842). Many of the works indexed are pseudonymous but are of local places and people. Exile, longing and homesickness are common themes, for example Henry Hamilton Blackham's poem Lays of Life. There are also works about local subjects, including The Spirit of the Murray an unfinished poem taking as its subject the Aboriginal people of the Murray River area, and prose works on and about life and travel in the colony.
Frequency became irregular but there is no expectation of the Magazine's end in the final issues. Ill health of the second editor, Thomas Young Cotter, may have caused the demise of this 'little magazine. Some contributors/contributions continued in the South Australian Odd Fellows' Magazine (1843) subsequently The Odd Fellows' Magazine (1843-1845).
On the original cover of the first issue, after the name Archibald Macdougall, is listed: Capper & Gole, London : Oliver & Boyd, Edinburgh : Curry, Junior, & Co., Dublin : Collins, Glasgow : Showell, Birmingham : Westley & Co., Bristol : Hughes, Liverpool : J. C. Macdougall, Hobart Town : H.Dowling, Launceston : Tegg, Sydney : Kerr, Port Phillip : Crawford & Co., New Zealand.
Agents W. S. Platts, Hindley-street, Adelaide, and E. Giles, No-orlunga
Volume 1, no. 3, September, 1841 replaces Tegg with G. W. Evans, Sydney. Crawford & Co., New Zealand is dropped. Vol. 2 no. 2, November, 1842 amends Oliver & Boyd to Oliver & Boyd and R & J Chambers. G. W. Evans is replaced with Tegg.
Some issues have 'Notice to Correspondents' printed on the inside front cover.
The back covers of nos. 9 and 12 printed 'Notices of the Press', reviews of the South Australian Magazine from the Australasian Chronicle; Sydney Monitor; Port Phillip Patriot; Colonial Times; Launceston Advertiser and Colonial Observer.
Bibliographic information is from original covers where available. This may differ from the digital copy of the print publication via Australian Periodical Publications 1840-1845.
The original covers printed the issue number and period but did not state the volume number, however the AustLit records for each issue follow the stated volume number from the digital copy of the print publication.
The South Australian Magazine is indexed on AustLit from the digital copy.