Before the advent of television, reading was among the most popular of leisure activities. `Light' fiction - romances, thrillers, westerns - was the sustenance of millions in wartime and in peace. This lively and scholarly study examines the size and complexion of the reading public and the development of an increasingly commercialized publishing industry in the early twentieth century. Joseph McAleer uses a wide variety of sources, including the Mass Observation Archive and previously confidential publishers' records, to explore the nature of popular fiction and its readers. He analyses the editorial policies which created the success of Mills & Boon and D. C. Thomson, and also charts the rise and fall of the Religious Tract Society as a popular publisher. This book is intended for scholar and students of modern British history, especially social historians, historians of literature, and specialists in popular culture; historians of twentieth-century fiction.
`a scholarly and well researched book...this book is of great interest as historical background and provides a context for the printing historian...This is an authoritative book, thorough, well researched, and full of useful references. But it is also an easy and enjoyable read.'
Printing Historical Society
`a tour de force ... McAleer should be applauded for showing the rest of us what can be done with the history of reading. Anyone working in any aspect of the field would learn much from Popular Reading and Publishing in Britain.'
History of Reading News, Autumn 1993
`a scholarly and well researched book...this book is of great interest as historical background and provides a context for the printing historian...an authoritative book, thorough, well researched and full of useful references. but it is also an easy and enjoyable read'
Printing Historical Society Bulletin
`meticulously researched ... McAleer is genuinely absorbed by his subject and can be entertainingly wry about it.'
Tim Heald, Weekend Telegraph
`Joseph McAleer's book offers us a reminder of the other side of the coin, of the publishing ventures which succeeded in combining profit with a version of moral uplift. His chapters on business strategies, on trends in publishing, and on public reading habits are excellent.
Times Higher Educational, Supplement
'Joseph McAleer has some useful corrective material on this ... this is a useful study; but a mine to be raided, not an advance in understanding the underlying issues.'
Times Literary Supplement
'this is a meticulously researched piece of work ... McAleer is genuinely absorbed by his subject and can be entertainingly wry about it.'
Tim Heald, Daily Telegraph
'McAleer highlights the importance to publishers of listening to their readers ... A good example of the value of oral history to business historians and some fascinating insights into the world of publishing.'
Dan Weinbren, Oral History, Spring 1994
'there is very little scholarly work on the twentieth century ... Joseph McAleer has set out to remedy that situation and on that count alone his thoughtful, well-documented and immensely readable study is to be welcomed ... this is a pioneering work of some importance and is essential reading for anyone interested in twentieth-century popular culture.'
Jeffrey Richards, Lancaster University, Social History Bulletin, Vol. 19, Sprin '94
`this is an admirable pioneering study which combines the qualities of originality and readibility. What is said in these pages rings true. This book...will long remain an important - even indispensable - contribution to the study of the most ephemeral of publications, and to the more general theme of romantic fiction. Its bibliography is wide-ranging and excellent.'
`this well-researched study hammers one more nail into the coffin of a social control theory. This generalization, as McElwee repeatedly makes clear, rarely stands up under close scholarly observation.'
`an engaging and path-breaking book whose importance is obvious from the title. McAleer has done his research with commendable enterprise.'
List of illustrations
List of tables
1: Popular reading and publishing 1870-1914
2: 'Books are a commodity': The commercialization of popular fiction
3: 'The quickest way out of Glasgow': Adult reading habits
4: 'Take the place of valium': Mills & Boon Ltd
5: 'We must prevent the leakage': Children's reading habits
6: 'Get me the boy from the age of six': D. C. Thomson & Co., Ltd
7: 'The public mind might be diverted': The Religious Tract Society
Series: Oxford Historical Monographs
Number Of Pages: 298
Published: 10th December 1992
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 22.0 x 14.4
Weight (kg): 0.53