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Popular Reading and Publishing in Britain 1914–1950$
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Joseph McAleer

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780198203292

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198203292.001.0001

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Popular Reading and Publishing 1870–1914

Popular Reading and Publishing 1870–1914

(p.12) 1 Popular Reading and Publishing 1870–1914
Popular Reading and Publishing in Britain 1914–1950

Joseph McAleer

Oxford University Press

In order to understand the market for light fiction and its mass readership which were an established part of British culture after World War I, this chapter considers the growth of the Unknown Public and the development of the publishing industry in the 19th century. Many factors stimulated a boom in reading and in publishing. These included the abolition of the ‘taxes on knowledge’, the extension of education and literacy, and the development of new (and cheaper) methods of production and distribution. Two schools of thought influenced the expanding market for popular fiction. One of these was a by-product of Victorian liberalism, Reformist in aspiration, namely, publishers such as the Religious Tract. The other school was wholly commercial and entrepreneurial. The state of the publishing industry and the reading market by 1914 was not simple. D. C. Thomson and Mills & Boon, represented a synthesis of these two attitudes.

Keywords:   light fiction, mass readership, culture, Unknown Public, publishing industry, popular fiction, Victorian liberalism, Religious Tract, D. C. Thomson, Mills & Boon

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