It is clear that Wilkie Collins and George Orwell were largely correct in their conclusions about the reading public and the popular publishing industry. They both claimed that reading among both adults and children in the lower-middle and working classes was a popular leisure activity. This book agrees with two of Orwell's assertions about the contents of boys' weeklies and romantic novels: the resolution of good fortune; there was no social or collective solution, and no alternative image of social improvement or organisation was presented. In fact, publishers such as Mills & Boon and D. C. Thomson were careful to make their plots as apolitical and ‘uncontroversial’ as possible. However, the ‘Unknown Public’, which this book has tried to define, did not graduate to ‘high-brow’ novels and non-fiction, as Collins predicted with robust optimism.
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