The Rise and Fall of the In Memoriam Inscription

GUEST BLOG: Dr Lauren Alex O’Hagan, Örebro University/The Open University AN 1870 COPY of The Keepsake Scripture Textbook has sat on my bookshelf for years. I picked it up in a second-hand bookshop in Bristol for far more than it was worth out of pure fascination for the inscriptions on its front endpapers. I wasContinue reading “The Rise and Fall of the In Memoriam Inscription”

Friday’s Subversive Reading

‘Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.’ Frederick Douglass ONE OF THE FIRST skills that Friday learns under the tutelage of his ‘master’ Robinson Crusoe is the ability to read with the ultimate purpose of instructing him in the precepts of the Christian religion. Throughout the history of Christian missions, the roleContinue reading “Friday’s Subversive Reading”

Clandestine Reading

In a previous blog, we looked at the ways in which readers display their intellectual credentials throught the use of conspicuous literacy. Here we examine some of the ways in which readers of the past have sought to disguise their uses of print. A COMMON FIGURE in dystopian fiction is the disaffected citizen whose resistanceContinue reading “Clandestine Reading”

Now published . . .

Three Hundred Years of Robinson Crusoe (De Gruyter, 2022) edited by Christine Haug, Johannes Frimmel, and Bill Bell 2019 marked the 300th anniversary of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. The novel was an immediate success and was soon followed by imitators and translations. With the robinsonade, a new genre of adventure literature was born. These contributionsContinue reading “Now published . . .”

Some Early Travelling Libraries

TODAY the ability to store hundreds of books on a tablet or an e-reader has removed many impediments to far-flung reading. These days, anyone who has access to a mobile phone connection can download an infinite number of titles far from home. But in the past, the itinerating library, aimed mostly at the well-heeled traveller,Continue reading “Some Early Travelling Libraries”

Reading and Resistance: John Mitchel, Fenian Convict

THROUGHOUT the transportation period, a number of gentleman convicts (referred to as ‘Specials’) made their way to Australia providing evidence of the vast range of literacies and competencies among the prison population. One class of prisoner, set apart from the ordinary criminal, was those serving out sentences during the periods of Fenian unrest in Ireland.Continue reading “Reading and Resistance: John Mitchel, Fenian Convict”

Roosevelt’s Pigskin Library

IT is difficult to believe that world leaders once had time for leisurely reading. U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt was surely one of the more bookish. Meditating on the intimacy that can exist between readers and their books, Roosevelt once asserted that ‘If a man or a woman is fond of books he or she willContinue reading “Roosevelt’s Pigskin Library”

Now published . . . . . .

Available here from Oxford University Press ***Winner of the British Association for Victorian Studies Rosemary Mitchell Prize 2022*** ***Winner of the Australian Historical Association Kay Daniels Prize 2022 *** Crusoe’s Books: Readers in the Empire of Print, 1800-1918 Bill Bell with a foreword by Alberto Manguel THIS is a book about readers on the moveContinue reading “Now published . . . . . .”