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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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Welcome to UK RED, the Reading Experience Database...

What did men, women and children resident in the United Kingdom or as British subjects travelling abroad read between the invention of the printing press in 1450 and the end of the Second World War in 1945? Search or browse our database to find out…

From books, newspapers and magazines to the more ephemeral publications such as playbills and tickets, and from illuminated manuscripts and drafts of novels to tombstone inscriptions and graffiti, RED aims to accumulate as much information as possible about past reading experiences. The evidence of reading you will find is drawn from a range of historical sources, including diaries, memoirs, commonplace books, marginalia, sociological studies and surveys, and criminal court and prison records.

As new evidence for the history of reading in Britain is uncovered daily RED continues to expand. If you have found an historical source rich in evidence, please fill in our online form and contribute to this project.

Books, and even readers, frequently cross borders. In recognition of this, RED has become an international project, committed to cataloguing evidence of reading from around the world. To visit other national REDs, or to search for specific readers, authors or texts across all the linked databases, click on the logos on the right.

1400-1499 image

Reading through the centuries:

1400-1499 - In 1477 William Caxton presented his "History of Jason" to the 6-year-old future Edward V. Edward IV, the little prince's father, had instructed the child's governor that during dinner he should listen to "such noble stories as behoveth a prince to understand and know". [more..]

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