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About us

Active for well over a decade, The Book History Research Group is a central part of the research narrative in the English Department and the Arts Faculty at the Open University. During this time it has made a number of major contributions to the development of the subject both nationally and internationally, and has attracted substantial amounts of both internal and external research funding, including three major AHRC grants. Members of the group have produced publications in authorship studies, printing, publishing, reading, textual studies, literacy and popular culture, the history of drama, manuscript culture, digital humanities, globalization, children's literature and scholarly editing.

Particular interests include sixteenth-century manuscript and scribal culture; seventeenth- and eighteenth-century literature (especially John Bunyan and Daniel Defoe); the Bible in English; the history of reading between 1600 and the present day; author/publisher relations and the history of copyright; publishers’ archives, especially Macmillan and Oxford University Press; editing Modernist writing (especially Ford Madox Ford); literacy and print culture in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; the colonial and postcolonial history of the book; reading during the First World War; digital editing; comteporary print culture and book publishing; globalization; and the relationship between book history and the digital humanities. In the last few years, the Book History Research Group has been developing a particular strength in the history of reading, largely as a result of continuing work on the UK Reading Experience Database (UK RED) project. A number of recent landmark publications in this area by members of the research group demonstrate how this is becoming an area of specialist expertise and research excellence.

Minute books of the 'Twelve Book Club' photo
The minute books of the ‘Twelve Book Club’ from June 1895, a Quaker reading group based in Reading, England. © Shafquat Towheed (2009), reproduced with the permission of the Twelve Book Club.