May 13th — Lauren O’Hagan: ‘Book Inscriptions, Ownership and Reading Practices in Edwardian Britain.’

‘Book Inscriptions, Ownership and Reading Practices in Edwardian Britain.’

This study will analyse examples of book inscriptions on the endpapers of books circulated between 1901-1914 as a way of understanding book ownership, reading practices and book culture in Edwardian Britain. The Edwardian era coincided with “a steady expansion of British reading habits” (Hudson, 1965:305). From 1901 to 1914, the number of books published and made available to readers, through the establishment of new public libraries, Workers’ Educational Associations and book clubs, increased dramatically (van Vuuren, 2010:xii). Books were seen as treasured artefacts and were often marked with personal inscriptions as signs of ownership. These inscriptions are an important source of information on the impact that the greater accessibility of books had on all classes of Edwardian society. They also offer a fascinating insight into the lives of Edwardian men, women and children, and reveal a great deal of information on sociocultural beliefs of the time.