'This is a welcome contribution to the recent expansion of interest in the history of reading in modern Britain. As befits a field that has become increasingly diverse in focus and methodology, this collection brings together a broad range of scholars at different stages in their careers and offers an unashamedly multi-faceted approach to the study of how contemporaries understood and related to printed texts.
A key feature is the inclusion of studies of readers themselves, in all their near-infinite variety. From groups of elite men and women living in Scottish castles to those who inhabited metropolitan Socialist circles, we learn about the crucial role that books and other printed materials played in the lives of large numbers of people. But individual experiences are not neglected: significant new insights are offered into how the consumption of texts shaped the characters, careers and outlook of avid readers like the bookseller James Lackington and the neurologist Henry Head.
Crucially the collection gives a powerful sense of the sheer variety and ubiquity of printed material in modern British society. Everything from Victorian newspapers and popular novels to crime reportage and biblical commentaries are shown to have animated whole communities of readers, enriching their cultural experiences as it shaped and directed their attitudes and behaviour.' - David Allan, Reader, School of History, University of St Andrews, UK
'This lively collection of essays demonstrates how complex even the simplest, most ordinary act of reading can be. It also vigorously explores a variety of research strategies for making sense of this still ubiquitous and meaningful practice in our digital age.' - Jan Radway, Professor of Gender Studies & American Studies, Northwestern University, USA
KATIE HALSEY is Lecturer in Eighteenth-Century Literature at the University of Stirling, UK. Her publications include numerous articles on literature and print culture, and the co-edited volumes The Concept and Practice of Conversation in the Long Eighteenth Century (2007) and The History of Reading (2010).
W.R. OWENS is Professor of English Literature at The Open University, UK. He has published widely on John Bunyan and Daniel Defoe, and is Director of the Reading Experience Database, 1450–1945 (RED) project. His most recent publication is an edition of the 1611 text of The Gospels for Oxford World's Classics (2011).