This book is concerned with the reading public which Wilkie Collins and George Orwell tried to describe, during the period when Orwell wrote and which Collins would have recognised: from 1914 until 1950. The book examines three publishing houses, noting in particular their complicated editorial policies within the increasingly ‘mass’ market. These are Mills & Boon, D. C. Thomson, and the Religious Tract Society. Mills & Boon and D. C. Thomson were the quintessential publishers of the early 20th century: essentially commercial enterprises, each firm reflected changing social values within its publications while courting their readerships. The Religious Tract Society was less successful: a 19th-century foundation embodying the spirit of Victorian liberalism, it failed to adapt to a changing (and increasingly secular) world, with disastrous results.
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