The Literary Marketplace of the Circulating Library, 1830-1930

Ott, Elizabeth, English - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Fraiman, Susan, Department of English, University of Virginia

This dissertation explores the history of the British circulating library between 1830 and 1930, re-evaluating its role as purveyor of literature during a time of rapid change. Framing a history of the circulating library between 1830 and 1930, around major shifts in the literary marketplace, allows for a broader understating of the function of book rental for novel readers. Concepts of gender, class, and literary value recur again and again as controlling narratives for the importance of circulating libraries. These concepts are closely related to the development and evolution of the novel, and their recurrence in the history of the circulating library points to a shared history. As anxieties about class are displaced onto anxieties about gender, and vice versa, the circulating library emerges as an essential location for debates about the relationships between readers and books, authors and publishers, art and commerce, literature and reception.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
gender, book history, circulating libraries, female readers, public libraries, railway libraries, railway bookstalls,
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