The world of Victorian periodicals is vast and sometimes overwhelming. To be able to make sense of all the full-text page images available in the British Periodicals database, you'll want to get some context first.
1. Search for an author in the Oxford DNB (on the Reference tab) for clues as to what she might have read, family information, publishing contacts, or literary acquaintances. For a work or topic overview, search for the book or author in Literature Research Center (Reference tab).
2. Use an advanced search in British Periodicals (Databases tab) in order to limit by date. You can also limit to a specific publication; the Wellesley Index (Reference tab) lists the most prominent ones, or use the clues you found in the biographical info.
3. When constructing your search, remember to use quotations marks to keep phrases together and OR between terms on the same line to allow for synonyms or variant spellings. One example:
"west indian" OR "west indies" OR barbados OR barbadoes
slave OR plantation OR sugar
MLA International Bibliography (1926 to present)
Covers critical scholarship on literature, language, linguistics, and folklore.
Searchable full text of hundreds of British periodicals from the late 17th century to the early 20th, with high-resolution facsimile page images.
Literature Resource Center
Full-text critical studies, biographies of authors; covers all genres, all time periods, and all regions.
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
The national record of men and women who have shaped British history and culture, worldwide.
Wellesley Index to Victorian Periodicals, 1824-1900
Frost Reference, call # Z2005 .H6
[description and list of periodicals indexed]
Jane Austen: The Critical Heritage (vol. 1: 1811-1870, vol. 2: 1870-1940), ed. B.C. Southam. London: Routledge & K. Paul, 1968. [e-books]
Vol. 1 contains contemporary reviews, notices of publication, and Austen's notes on impressions of family and friends; vol. 2 charts the rise in criticism.
MLA style guidelines from the OWL at Purdue