Writers, Readers, and Reputations: Literary Life in Britain 1870-1918

Paperback | June 15, 2008

byPhilip Waller

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Charles Dickens died in 1870, the same year in which universal elementary education was intorduced. During the following generation a mass reading public emerged, and the term 'best-seller' was coined. In new and cheap editions Dickens's stories sold hugely, but these were progressivelyoutstripped in quantity by the likes of Hall Caine and Marie Corelli, Charles Garvice and Nat Gould. Who has now heard of these writers? Yet Hall Caine, for one, boasted of having made more money from his pen than any previous author. This book presents a panoramic view of literary life in Britain over half a century from 1870 to 1914, teasing out authors' relations with the reading public and tracing how reputations were made and unmade. It surveys readers' habits, the book trade, popular literary magazines and the role ofreviewers, and examines the construction of a classical canon by critics concerned about the supposed corruption of popular taste. Certain writers were elevated as national heroes, yet Britain drew its writers from abroad as well as from home. Authors became stars and celebrities, and a literary tourism grew around their haunts. They advertised products from cigarettes to toothpaste; they were fashion-conscious and promoted themsevles via profiles, interviews, and carefully posed photographs; they went on lecture tours to America; andtheir names were pushed by a new professional breed: the literary agent. Some angled for knighthoods, even peerages, and cut a figure in high society and London clubland. The debated public issues of the day and campaigned on all manner of things from questions of faith and women's rights tocensorship and conscription. During the Great War they penned propaganda. Meanwhile the cinema was developing to challenge the supremacy of the written word over the imagination. Authors took to that too, as an opportunity for new adventure. Writers, Readers, and Reputations is richly entertainingand informative, amounting to a collective biography of a generation of writers and their world.

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Charles Dickens died in 1870, the same year in which universal elementary education was intorduced. During the following generation a mass reading public emerged, and the term 'best-seller' was coined. In new and cheap editions Dickens's stories sold hugely, but these were progressivelyoutstripped in quantity by the likes of Hall Caine...

Philip Waller is a Fellow and Tutor in Modern History at Merton College, Oxford.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:1200 pages, 9.69 × 6.73 × 2.09 inPublished:June 15, 2008Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199541205

ISBN - 13:9780199541201

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Table of Contents

Part I: The Reading World1. Back to the Future: Authors at the Movies2. Consenting and Dissenting Bibliophiles in Public and Private3. Literary Advice and Advisers4. Reviews and Reviewers5. The Great Tradition6. The Commemmoration Movement7. English Literature's Foreign Relations; or ''e dunno ou il est!'Part II: Writers and the Public: The Price of Fame8. Having a Flutter: Product Advertising and Self-Advertising9. The Star Turn10. Playing the Press: Entry and Exposure11. Securing the Future12. Titles and Laurels13. Social Prestige and Clubability14. The Aristocratic Round and Salon Circle15. Looking and Acting the Part16. Lecture Tours17. Literary Properties and AgenciesPart III: Best-Sellers18. Market Conditions19. In Cupid's Chains: Charles Garvice20. Hymns and Heroines: Florence Barclay21. The Epic Ego: Hall Caine22. The Demonic Dreamer: Marie Corelli23. Authors at Play: Nat Gould Leads the FieldPart IV: Writers and the Public: Penmen as Pundits24. The Campaign Trail25. Public Service and Party Politics26. Pens at War27. Pricking Censorship28. Theology versus Sociology and PsychologyBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

`Review from previous edition 'The book contains some eft portraiture, several good stories, a mass of quotations, a few statistics...and an abundance of miscellanous information.''Stefan Collini, London Review of Books