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Record 8930

Reading Experience:

'Much of it [ie. ?the daily instruction I received?] consisted in the books I read by myself, and my father?s discourses to me, chiefly during our walks. From 1810 to the end of 1813 we were living in Newington Green, then an almost rustic neighbourhood. My father?s health required considerable and constant exercise, and he walked habitually before breakfast, generally in the green lanes towards Hornsey. In these walks I always accompanied him, and with my earliest recollections of green fields and wild flowers, is mingled that of the account I gave him daily of what I had read the day before. To the best of my remembrance, this was a voluntary rather than a prescribed exercise. I made notes on slips of paper while reading, and from these, in the morning walks, I told the story to him; for the books were chiefly histories, of which I read in this manner a great number: Robertson?s histories, Hume, Gibbon; but my greatest delight, then and for long afterwards, was Watson?s Philip the Second and Third. The heroic defence of the Knights of Malta against the Turks, and of the revolted provinces of the Netherlands against Spain, excited in me an intense and lasting interest. Next to Watson, my favourite historical reading was Hooke?s History of Rome. Of Greece I had seen at that time no regular history, except school abridgments and the last two or three volumes of a translation of Rollin?s Ancient History, beginning with Philip of Macedon. But I read with great delight Langhorne?s translation of Plutarch. In English history, beyond the time at which Hume leaves off, I remember reading Burnett?s History of his Own Time, though I cared little for anything in it except the wars and battles; and the historical part of the Annual Register, from the beginning to about 1788, where the volumes my father borrowed for me from Mr Bentham left off?. In these frequent talks about the books I read, he used, as opportunity offered, to give me explanations and ideas respecting civilization, government, morality, mental cultivation, which he required me afterwards to restate to him in my own words.'
Century: 1800-1849
Date: Between 1 Jan 1810 and 31 Dec 1813
Country: England
Time: morning
Place: other location: Solitary reading presumably at James Mill?s house in Newington Green, London; summarising and discussion while walking in the neighbourhood, ?generall
Type of Experience (Reader):
silent aloud unknown
solitary in company unknown
single serial unknown
Type of Experience (Listener):
solitary reactive unknown
single serial unknown

Reader/Listener/Reading Group:

Reader:John Stuart Mill
Age Child (0-17)
Gender Male
Date of Birth 20 May 1806
Socio-economic group: Professional / academic / merchant / farmer
Occupation: Administrator in the East India Company (joins the company as a clerk in 1823, retires as chief of his office and Examiner of India Correspondence in
Religion: Atheist
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: Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
Genre: History
Form of Text: Print: Book
Publication details: n/a
Provenance: unknown


Source Information:

Record ID: 8930  
Source - Print  
  Author: John Stuart Mill
  Editor: Jack Stillinger
  Title: Autobiography
  Place of Publication: Boston
  Date of Publication: 1969
  Vol: n/a
  Page: 6-7
  Additional comments: n/a

Citation: John Stuart Mill, Jack Stillinger (ed.), Autobiography (Boston, 1969), p. 6-7,, accessed: 23 June 2024

Additional comments:

Since the initial, solitary reading experience (presumably alone at home) was explicitly carried out in preparation for oral summarising and discussion the following day (outdoors, with the reader?s father), the reading experience should be considered to encompass both of these activities ? hence that it has been recorded here as both ?silent? and ?aloud?, both ?solitary? and ?in company?, even though the reader does not state that he read aloud or in the company of his father.



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