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Record 1030

Reading Experience:

'In 1926 [Catherine McMullen] was herself a workhouse laundress, struggling to improve her mind by reading T.P. and Cassell's Weekly. The magazine was full of literary gossip that made her aspire to be a writer, but she had no idea which books to read until she came across Elinor Glyn's The Career of Catherine Bush. In this story of a romance between a duke and a secretary, the secretary is advised to read the Letters of Lord Chesterfield to his Son. Catherine McMullen visited a public library for the first time in her life and borrowed the book: "And here began my education. With Lord Chesterfield I read my first mythology. I learned my first history and geography. With Lord Chesterfield I went travelling the world. I would fall asleep reading the letters and awake around three o'clock in the morning my mind deep in the fascination of this new world, where people conversed, not just talked..." ... He launched her into a lifetime course of reading, beginning with Chaucer in Middle English, moving on to Erasmus, Donne, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and even Finnegan's Wake.'
Century: 1900-1945
Date: From: 1926
Country: England
Time: n/a
Place: n/a
Type of Experience (Reader):
silent aloud unknown
solitary in company unknown
single serial unknown
Type of Experience (Listener):
solitary in company unknown
single serial unknown

Reader/Listener/Reading Group:

Reader:Catherine McMullen
Age Adult (18-100+)
Gender Female
Date of Birth 27 06 1906
Socio-economic group: Labourer (non-agricultural)
Occupation: washerwoman, later a bestselling novelist
Religion: n/a
Country of origin: England
Country of experience: England
Listeners present if any:
(e.g. family, servants, friends, workmates)
Additional comments: n/a


Text Being Read:

Author: Edward Gibbon
Title: The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
Genre: History
Form of Text: Print: Book
Publication details: n/a
Provenance: unknown


Source Information:

Record ID: 1030  
Source - Print  
  Author: Jonathan Rose
  Editor: n/a
  Title: The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes
  Place of Publication: New Haven
  Date of Publication: 2001
  Vol: n/a
  Page: 40
  Additional comments: n/a

Citation: Jonathan Rose, The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes (New Haven, 2001), p. 40,, accessed: 27 May 2024

Additional comments:

See Catherine Cookson, 'Our Kate' (London, 1959)



Reading Experience Database version 2.0.  Page updated: 27th Apr 2016  3:15pm (GMT)