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The Book in Britain: A Historical Introduction




The Book in Britain: A Historical Introduction

Zachary Lesser (Editor), Daniel Allington, David A. Brewer, Stephen Colclough, Sian Echard

ISBN: 978-0-470-65493-4 March 2019 Wiley-Blackwell 512 Pages


Introduces readers to the history of books in Britain—their significance, influence, and current and future status 

Presented as a comprehensive, up-to-date narrative, The Book in Britain: A Historical Introduction explores the impact of books, manuscripts, and other kinds of material texts on the cultures and societies of the British Isles. The text clearly explains the technicalities of printing and publishing and discusses the formal elements of books and manuscripts, which are necessary to facilitate an understanding of that impact. This collaboratively authored narrative history combines the knowledge and expertise of five scholars who seek to answer questions such as: How does the material form of a text affect its meaning? How do books shape political and religious movements? How have the economics of the book trade and copyright shaped the literary canon? Who has been included in and excluded from the world of books, and why?

The Book in Britain: A Historical Introduction will appeal to all scholars, students, and historians interested in the written word and its continued production and presentation.

Editor’s Note vii

A Note on Money viii

List of Illustrations x

Introduction 1

Part I The Middle Ages and the Renaissance 9

1 Early Beginnings to the Norman Conquest of 1066 11

2 From the High Middle Ages to the Coming of Print, 1066–1530 48

3 Consolidation and Control in the World of Print, 1530–1640 81

Part II The Interregnum and the Long Eighteenth Century 135

4 Politics and Periodicals, 1641–1695 137

5 Partisan Strife and the World of Print, 1695–1740 177

6 Managing the Flood of Print, 1740–1780 205

Part III From the Nineteenth Century to the Modern Age 227

7 Consolidating Change, 1780–1820 229

8 The Distribution Revolution: Innovation and Diversity, 1820–1870 251

9 The Age of Mass Production, 1870–1920 317

Part IV The Twentieth and Twenty‐First Centuries 339

10 Minority Culture and Popular Print, 1920–1940 341

11 The Age of the Mass‐Market Paperback, 1940–1970 371

12 Big Business and Digital Technology, 1970–2018 413

References 461

Index 506