'George Howell, bricklayer and trade unionist..."read promiscuously. How could it be otherwise? I had no real guide, was obliged to feel my way into light. Yet perhaps there was a guidance, although indefinite and without distinctive aim". Howell groped his way through literature "on the principle that one poet's works suggested another, or the criticisms on one led to comparisons with another. Thus: Milton - Shakespeare; Pope-Dryden; Byron-Shelley; Burns-Scott; Coleridge-Wordsworth and Southey, and later on Spenser-Chaucer, Bryant-Longfellow, and so on". By following these intertextual links, autodidacts could reconstruct the literary canon on their own'.