RED-The Reading Experience Database 1450-1945

The Reading Experience Database 1450-1945 is a project the Open University (UK) launched in 1996, with the aim of accumulating data about the reading experience of British subjects.  It is a searchable database of all citations in printed materials (i.e. letters, memoirs, diaries, journals, reading notebooks, autobiographies, court records, annotations, marginalia, etc.) linking an individual to their reading.  An example is Susan Ferrier, who commented in a letter on reading Jane Austen’s Emma in 1816, and there are many citations to Jane Austen’s own reading.  This material is already prompting the need for a reassessment of the opinions about 18th and 19th century reading practices.  For instance, the belief that 19th-century women read nothing but novels is disputed by the findings that women of this period read an extremely wide range of genres, including philosophy, mathematics and the Classics.  You can find the link at: (the link is also in our ‘Literary Resources” list.) And note that RED actively solicits contributions of material for inclusion in the database. 1

[1.  See The Female Spectator, vol.11, no.1, Spring 2007]

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