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the experience of reading in Britain, from 1450 to 1945...

Reading Experience Database UK Historical image of readers

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Francis Turner Palgrave (ed.) : The Golden Treasury

'[Garratt] spent his free evenings in Birmingham's Central Free Library reading Homer, Epitectus, Longius and Plato's Dialogues, a classical education which further undemined his confidence in the status quo: "I began to wonder in what way we had advanced from the ancient civilisations of Greece and Rome". In the First World War, he took Palgrave's Golden Treasury with him to France and wrote his own verses in the trenches'..

Century: 1900-1945     Reader/Listener/Group: V.W. Garratt      Print: Book


Grave : The History and Antiquities of Cleveland in the North Riding of Yorkshire

William Wordsworth suggests to Francis Wrangham that he attempt to write a local history: 'I am induced to mention it from a belief that you are admirably qualified for such a work ... and from a regret in seeing works of this kind ... utterly marred by falling into the hands of wretched Bunglers, e.g. the History of Cleveland whiich I have just read, by a Clergyman of Yarm by the name of Grave, the most heavy performance I ever encountered ... '

Century: 1800-1849     Reader/Listener/Group: William Wordsworth      Print: Book


Francis Turner Palgrave : Golden Treasury (ed.)

'Philip Inman conveyed a ... specific sense of the uses of literacy for an early Labour MP. The son of a widowed charwoman, he bought up all the cheap reprints he could afford and kept notes on fifty-eight of them... There were Emerson's essays, Ruskin's Sesame and Lilies, Holmes's Autocrat of the Breakfast Table, Lamb's Essays of Elia, classic biogaphies (Boswell on Johnson, Lockhart on Scott, Carlyle on Sterling), several Waverley novels, Wuthering Heights, Don Quixote, Robinson Crusoe, Pilgrim's Progress, The Imitation of Christ, Shakespeare's sonnets, Tennyson, Browning, William Morris and Palgrave's Golden Treasury.'

Century: 1900-1945     Reader/Listener/Group: Philip Inman      Print: Book


Francis Turner Palgrave : Golden Treasury of English Song and Lyrics

'In 1955 Manny Shinwell - who read all of Palgrave's Golden Treasury to his children, and had consoled himself in prison with Keats and Tennyson - regretted that that poetic heritage had been surrendered to the cinema and radio: "In the early days of the [socialist] movement it was common practice of speakers to recite poetry...".'

Century: 1900-1945     Reader/Listener/Group: Emmanuel (Manny) Shinwell      Print: Book


F.T Palgrave : The Golden Treasury

"But I read with unchecked voracity, and in several curios directions...My Father presented me with the entire bulk of Southey's stony verse, which I found it impossible to penetrate, but my stepmother lent me 'The Golden Treasury' in which almost everything seemed exquisite."

Century: 1850-1899     Reader/Listener/Group: Edmund Gosse      Print: Book


Francis Turner Palgrave : Golden Treasury of English Songs and Lyrics

'While his widowed mother... worked a market stall, Ralph Finn scrambled up the scholarship ladder to Oxford University. He credited his success largely to his English master at Davenant Foundation School: "When I was an East End boy searching for beauty, hardly knowing what I was searching for, fighting against all sorts of bad beginnings and unrewarding examples, he more than anyone taught me to love our tremndous heritage of English language and literature". And Finnn never doubted that it was HIS heritage: "My friends and companions Tennyson, Browning, Keats, Shakespeare, Francis Thompson, Donne, Housman, the Rosettis. All as alive to me as thought they had been members of my family". After all, as he was surprised and pleased to discover, F.T. Palgrave (whose Golden Treasury he knew thoroughly) was part-Jewish'.

Century: 1900-1945     Reader/Listener/Group: Ralph Finn      Print: Book


Robert Graves : Goodbye to All That

'Growing up in a family that read newspapers only for sport and scandal, Vernon Scannell knew all the great prize fighters by age thirteen, "but I could not have named the Prime Minister of the day..." The history and geography he was taught at school were never related to contemporary events. Remarkably, Scannell had read widely about the last war: the poetry of Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, Edmund Blunden's "Undertones of War", and Robert Graves's "Goodbye to All That". The Penguin edition of "A Farewell to Arms" so overwhelmed him that he tried to write his own Great War novel in a Hemingway style. But none of this translated into any awareness that another war might be on the way'.

Century: 1900-1945     Reader/Listener/Group: Vernon Scannell      Print: Book


Palgrave : Longer Poems

[List of books read in 1943, in diary for 1943]: 'The Farthing Spinster; Guy Mannering; Whereas I was Blind; And So to Bath; The Story of San Michele; Attack Alarm; The Murders in Praed Street; Lover's Meeting; The Secret Battle; Witch Wood; MD - Doctor of Murder; Murder at the Keyhole; That Girl Ginger; Ten Minute Alibi; Diary of a District Officer; Tarzan the Untamed; Peter Abelard; Pip; Pied Piper; A Man Lay Dead; Random Harvest; Madame Curie; Stalky and Co; Bellarion; Down the Garden Path; The Three Musketeers vol 1; The House in Cornwall; A Tall Ship; The Two Saplings; Farewell Victoria; Quinneys; House of Terror; Penguin Parade 4; Guy Mannering[presumably a re-reading]; The Man Born to be King; Casterton Papers; Old Saint Paul's; The Moon is Down; 1066 and all That; My Brother Jonathon; Gulliver's Travels; Ensign Knightley; Men Against Death; Fame is the Spur; Gone with the Wind; Mesmer; First Nights; The Hound of the Baskervilles; Little Gidding; Beau Geste; Beau Sabreur; The Amazing Theatre; The Pleasure of Your Company; Dandelion Days; Humour and Fantasy; Juno and the Paycock; The Beautiful Years; Teach Yourself to Think; Salar the Salmon; The Cathedral; The Mysterious Mr I; The Picts and the Martyrs; The Dream of Fair Women; The Star-born; Three Short Stories; A Thatched Roof; The Surgeon's Log; The Healing Knife; Nine Ghosts; While Rome Burns; The Star Spangled Manner; The Day Must Dawn; The Tower of London; Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde; The Old Man's Birthday; A little Princess; Ego 5; The Lighter Side of School Life; Kidnapped; The Trail of the Sandhill Stag; Ballet Lover's Notebook; Lorna Doone; The Plays of JM Barrie; Jane Eyre; I'll Leave it to You; Henry Fifth; Longer Poems; Antony and Cleopatra; The Man in Grey; The House in Dormer Forest; The Writing of English; Miss Mapp; The Song of Bernadette; Happy and Glorious; Sixty Poems; The Birth of Romance; The Comedy of Life; Some Little Tales; Dream Days; Royal Flush.'

Century: 1900-1945     Reader/Listener/Group: Hilary Spalding      Print: Book


Richard Graves : The spiritual Quixote: or the summer's ramble of Mr Geoffry Wildgoose

?As during my confinement I amused myself with light reading, I now for the 1st time read the "Spiritual Quixote" (w?th which I was much entertain?d) & other books of the kind, which I got from the circulating library.?

Century: 1700-1799     Reader/Listener/Group: John Marsh      Print: Book


Robert Graves : [poetry]

'The fresh-sounding work of the war generation, which began to appear in the late 1920s and early 1930s, provided him with important models. Huxley, Wells and Aldington (especially "Death of a Hero") were rapidly digested; his poetic models were Edith Sitwell, Aldington, Nichols, Sassoon and Graves (in the cheap Benn's Sixpenny Poets editions), to be followed by the more lasting influences of Eliot and D.H. Lawrence...He read an essay by Lawrence in which he showed how England treated its writers. That, he said, made him decide "to swim against the current".'

Century: 1900-1945     Reader/Listener/Group: Lawrence Durrell      Print: Book


John Blagrave : The Mathematical Jewel, Shewing the making, and most excellent use of a singuler Instrument so called ... The use of which Jewel ... leadeth ... through the whole Artes of Astronomy, Cosmography, Geography, Topography, Navigation, Longitudes ...

'Next to [John] Balgrave's modest prefatory poem [in "The Mathematical Jewel" (1585)] "The Authour in his own defence", [Gabriel] Harvey comments: "An Youth, & no University-man. The more shame for sum Doctors of Universities, that may learn of him".'

Century: 1500-1599     Reader/Listener/Group: Gabriel Harvey      Print: Book


Robert Graves : 

E. M. Forster to Siegfried Sassoon, 3 August 1918: 'Re the poets you mention I have read some of them both. I liked Graves. Nichols not so much.'

Century: 1900-1945     Reader/Listener/Group: Edward Morgan Forster      Print: Unknown


Robert Graves : [war poetry]

'Later in my teens, on a first visit to London, I bought for one-and-six in the Charing Cross Road, a red-covered copy of "The War Poems of Siegfried Sassoon". it was my first clear view of my father's world of 1914-18, and I went on to read Graves, Blunden, Owen'.

Century: 1900-1945     Reader/Listener/Group: Charles Causley      Print: Book


Charles Long and Lord Mulgrave : letters to Lord Lonsdale

John Wilson Croker to his wife, 28 July 1850: 'After dinner I read some of the letters written by Charles Long and Lord Mulgrave to the late Lord Lonsdale about the time I came into political life, which of course amused me. Lord Mulgrave writes to Lord Lonsdale, in October, 1809, to say that he had written to offer the Secretary of the Admiralty "to Mr. Croker who was active, quick, and intelligent, and who might go off to Canning if he were not attended to." In this last point, at least, Lord Mulgrave was mistaken, for before the offer was made me, I had already answered Mr Canning that I could not take his view of the differences in the Cabinet.'

Century: 1850-1899     Reader/Listener/Group: John Wilson Croker      


Thomas Palgrave (ed) : Golden Treasury

Transcript of interview: 'I don’t think there was anything that I wasn’t allowed to read. It was only when I went to school to boarding school and all my friends were reading Gone with the Wind, and my mother decided she would rather I didn’t read Gone with the Wind because of a very racy chapter where Melanie gives birth to a baby and she didn’t think that was suitable for me. I was thirteen or fourteen and I didn’t read it but I did read Vicky Baum’s Hotel Berlin which had a much worse scene where a woman gave birth in a rowing boat… I can’t think of anything that was actually banned at all. I read lots and lots of my father’s books and this was a book that I loved - Palgrave’s Golden Treasury [shows book]. My mother gave me this [shows book]. This is the one I learned to read on. This is the Water Babies. I remember sitting up in bed reading Mrs Be Done By As You Did and shouting out “I can read, I can read”! I was six. I didn’t learn to read until quite late.'

Century: 1900-1945     Reader/Listener/Group: Hilary Spalding      Print: Book


Robert Graves : 

'Robert Graves lent me his manuscript poems to read: some very bad, violent and repulsive. A few full of promise and real beauty. He oughtn't to publish yet.'

Century: 1900-1945     Reader/Listener/Group: Siegfried Sassoon      


Francis Turner Palgrave (ed.) : Golden Treasury, The

'Fortunately, the casualties were not very heavy and we varied the time by hunting rats and watching the mice playing about in the dug-outs. My own favourite practice was to lie in the sombre light of a candle reading the Golden Treasury, or else scribbling verses of my own composition.'

Century: 1900-1945     Reader/Listener/Group: Vero Walter Garratt      Print: Book


Francis Turner Palgrave (ed.) : Golden Treasury, The

'... when evening came I sought the isolation of a disused hut at the bottom of a garden and revelled in poetic creations by candlelight as a solace to my distraught mind. And as the Palgrave's Treasury became more battered so it became more of a blessing.'

Century: 1900-1945     Reader/Listener/Group: Vero Walter Garratt      Print: Book


Francis Turner Palgrave (ed) : Golden Treasury of English Songs and Lyrics

‘This morning that extraordinarily unequal collection "The Golden Treasury" came out of its hiding place, and served to astonish me once more with its lasting wonders of the “Intimations” Ode. But what I really want is a Marcus Aurelius, a small cheap one. Would you send it me? The Gospels annoy me by their emptiness, and the eloquence of St Paul though good enough in some place is mere argumentative theology only too often … As for news, you in England are far more fortunate than we. My self I love newspapers when my brain is watery, and none I have seen that is not a week old. In reserve however I was a hardened but often puzzled reader of "Le Telegramme", "Le Journal", "Le Petit Parisien", "Le Matin".

Century: 1900-1945     Reader/Listener/Group: Ivor Bertie Gurney      Print: Book


Francis Turner Palgrave : Golden Treasury of English Songs and Lyrics

‘ [ … ] it was nice … to get the "Evening Standard" packed up with the rest [of the parcel]. I do adore newspapers in certain moods. For frivolling time away they are incomparable … Why was the "Daily Telegraph" one page sent? For the College awards? Or for the review of Colles’ latest book? … I asked for a book to be sent in the parcel. That means any sort of book. A twopenny box in London would give me acute joy, but if you are debarred from such, Nelson’s 6d Classics would be more than excellent. What a washout most of the "Golden Treasury" is! As for the period of Pope, the selection is simply lamentable. Only the Elizabethan and Wordsworth period have much real stuff in them. Could you steal and small dirty copy of Shelley or Keats and sent it me? I have tried to get these in the penny Poets, but they must be out of print. The Everymans are too big, or my pack too small. "Macbeth" is with me, but there is too much real tragedy about to find it pleasant. Milton I can read (and have) particularly the Ode on Time which is terrific … Palgrave makes me feel what a lot of good stuff I miss by reading anthologies.

Century: 1900-1945     Reader/Listener/Group: Ivor Bertie Gurney      Print: Book


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