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the experience of reading in Britain, from 1450 to 1945...

Reading Experience Database UK Historical image of readers
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[anon] : Aristotle's Masterpiece

'[according to Stan Dickens]"There was one book that we all thought was sensational" - Aristotle's Masterpiece. "At last we understood what was meant when, during Scripture lessons, reference was made to 'the mother's womb'".'

Century: 1900-1945     Reader/Listener/Group: Stan Dickens      Print: Book


[anon] : Aristotle's Masterpiece

'The girls at the hat and cap factory where [Mary Bertenshaw] worked would huddle round at dinner to read Aristotle's Masterpiece over general giggles: "It contained explicit pictures of the developent of a foetus; in turn we read out passages. This went on until our boss Abe interrupted us. We felt so ashamed and from then on kept even further away from the VD clinic and became very dubious about the male sex'

Century: 1900-1945     Reader/Listener/Group: Mary Bertenshaw      Print: Book


[anon] : The Holy War

'[Edwin] Whitlock... borrowed books from a schoolmaster and from neighbours: "Most of them would now be considered very heavy literature for a boy of fourteen or fifteen, but I didn't know that, for I had no light literature for comparison. I read most of the novels of Dickens, Scott, Lytton and Mrs Henry Wood, 'The Pilgrim's Progress' and 'The Holy War' - an illustrated guide to Biblical Palestine, 'Uncle Tom's Cabin', several bound volumes of religious magazines, 'The Adventures of a Penny', and sundry similar classics". With few books competing for his attention, he could freely concentrate on his favorite reading, "A set of twelve thick volumes of Cassell's 'History of England'".'

Century: 1850-1899     Reader/Listener/Group: Edwin Whitlock      Print: Book


[anon] : The Illustrated News History of the 1914-18 War

'Derek Davies could not recall that his mother had ever read a book. His father, a die-caster in an automobile factory, read only local and sports papers and two novels a week - a Western or a detective thriller: "Yet quite unintentionally he gave me... a love of reading... He never seemed to vary the diet, he never discussed either the books he read or newspaper items, and he never urged me to read for myself... I... was soon reading everything he read. by the age of eleven or twelve I must have read a couple of hundred of his novels..." In addition to the newspapers and his father's novels, he consumed books for younger children and travel books for adults ("Tibet, I remember, was one passionate preoccupation"). He jumped from the "Wizard" and "Hotspur", which his parents considered "trash" to their twenty-two bound volumes of "The Illustrated News History of the 1914-18 War". "Undeterred by the fact that I had neither the space nor the money to embark on even the most modest layout, I consumed book after book on the building of model railways. Gradually, as I found out how to use the School Library and the Public Library, some degree of selection took place, but as nobody at school before the sixth form advised me what to read the selection remained distinctly erratic... At about fourteen... I read every word of T.E. Lawrence's 'Seven Pillars of Wisdom', although I had only the faintest glimmer of its real significance".'

Century: 1900-1945     Reader/Listener/Group: Derek Davies      Print: Book


[anon] : [ballads]

'Gifford had read only some ballads, the black-letter romance Parismus and Parismenus, some odd loose magazines of his mother's, the Bible (which he studied with his grandmother) and "The Imitation of Christ" (read to his mother on her deathbed). He then learned algebra by surreptitiously reading Fenning's textbook: his master's son owned the book and had deliberately hidden it from him'.

Century: 1700-1799     Reader/Listener/Group: William Gifford      Print: Unknown


[anon] : Maria or The Vicarage

'I on Tuesday the 8th went in the afternoon to Fareham by the telegraph, where I spent the evening & slept at the Red Lion, taking with me for my amusement there & in the coach the little novel of "Maria or The Vicarage", w'ch I had seen well spoken of in a review.'

Century: 1700-1799     Reader/Listener/Group: John Marsh      Print: Book


[Anon] : The Irish Excursion, or I fear to tell you

'On Wed'y the 24th I finish'd reading the new & popular novel of the "Irish Excursion", w'ch Mr Hayley had recommended to us...'

Century: 1800-1849     Reader/Listener/Group: John Marsh      Print: Book


[Anon] : [suitable readings]

'Aftn. Suitable readings & social prayers. Read a sermon by the Revd E. Butcher.'

Century: 1800-1849     Reader/Listener/Group: John Cole      Print: Book


[Anon] : Matilde a novel

[Item transcribed into a commonplace book]: [Untitled]; [Text]' "La Belle France" has no more pretensions to beauty/ than the majority of her daughters. Like many of/ them she has not a single good feature in her face,/but unlike them she does not even do her best ??' [total = 18 lines]

Century: 1800-1849 / 1850-1899     Reader/Listener/Group: Magdalene Sharpe- Erskine      Print: Unknown


[Anon] : [untitled]

[Item transcribed into a commonplace book]: [Untitled]; [Text]' Count oe'r the days whose happy flight/ Is shared with those we love/ Like stars amid a stormy night/ Alas! how few they prove ?' [total = 2 x 8 line verses]

Century: 1800-1849 / 1850-1899     Reader/Listener/Group: Magdalene Sharpe- Erskine      Print: Unknown


[Anon] : A Highland Salute to the Queen

[Item transcribed into a commonplace book]: [Title] 'A Highland Salute to the Queen/ Air Roderigh Vich Alpine dhu, ho! Ieroe!'; [Text] 'Long life to our Queen who in beauty advances/ To the refuge of freedom, the home of the fair/ Each true Highland bosom with loyalty dances/ From Drummond to Taymouth - from ? to Blair/ ...' [total = 5 x 10 line verses]

Century: 1800-1849 / 1850-1899     Reader/Listener/Group: Magdalene Sharpe- Erskine      Print: Unknown


[Anon] : The Star of Missions

[Item transcribed into a commonplace book]; [Title] "The Star of Missions"; [Text] "Behold the Mission Star's soul gladdening ray/ Which o'er the nations sheds a beam of day;/ While glad salvation speeds her life fraught ?/ Borne by the Gospel's herald wheels afar;/ ... " [Total = 7 x 6 line verses]

Century: 1800-1849 / 1850-1899     Reader/Listener/Group: Magdalene Sharpe- Erskine      Print: Unknown


[Anon] : unknown

[Item transcribed into a commonplace book]; [Untitled]; [Text] "Qu'est ce qui fait le bonheur ou le malheur/ de notre vie? C'est notre caractere, c'est la/ maniere ? nous voyons les choses, /? " [Total = 17 lines]

Century: 1800-1849 / 1850-1899     Reader/Listener/Group: Magdalene Sharpe- Erskine      Print: Unknown


[Anon] : The dead friend

[Item transcribed into a commonplace book]: [Title] 'The dead friend'; [Text] 'Not to the grave, not to the grave, my soul/ Descend to contemplate/ The form that once was dear!/ ?not on thoughts so loathly horrible/ ...'; [Total = 40 lines]

Century: 1800-1849 / 1850-1899     Reader/Listener/Group: Magdalene Sharpe- Erskine      Print: Unknown


[anon] : Guy's Expositor

'The following Saturday afternoon [father] was a bit late getting home from work; he must have gone to the second-hand bookstall in the market. ...he handed me a book that was dropping to pieces. It was thin, with a dark green back. There were about fifty pages; there had been a lot more but the others must have dropped out. All the pages were loose. It was called "Guy's Expositor". It was just lists of words, but it told you where they had come from, and how their meaning had varied through the ages so that some words, eventually, came to mean just the opposite from what they had meant long ago. I was thrilled to the marrow with it...'

Century: 1850-1899 / 1900-1945     Reader/Listener/Group: Joseph Stamper      Print: Book


Walter Scott [anon] : review of Emma

'I return you the Quarterly Reveiw [sic] with many Thanks. The Authoress of "Emma" has no reason I think to complain of her treatment in it - except in the total omission of Mansfield Park. - I cannot but be sorry that so clever a Man as the Reveiwer [sic] of "Emma" should consider it as unworthy of being noticed.'

Century: 1800-1849     Reader/Listener/Group: Jane Austen      Print: Serial / periodical


[anon] : A treatise of taxes and contributions

'And so went home, taking Mr Leigh with me; and after drunk a cup of wine, he went away and I to my office, there reading in Sir W Pettys book, and so home - and to bed'

Century: 1600-1699     Reader/Listener/Group: Samuel Pepys      Print: Book


[anon] : The Scholar Armed

I console myself with Doddridge's Expositor and "The Scholar Armed", to say nothing of a very popular book called "The Dissenter tripped up".'

Century: 1800-1849     Reader/Listener/Group: Sydney Smith      


H Hamer [anon] : Roasted Angels

I have read 'Roasted Angels' and I now return it. It is a very unusual and even a very remarkable play. It is full of wit and fancy and most admirably written. I should like to know who H. Hamer is. He, or she, must have been writing for quite some little time.

Century: 1900-1945     Reader/Listener/Group: Arnold Bennett      


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