Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Free Book: Readers in Context, Sheffield UK 1929-1955

The cover of Steel City by Mary Grover features a photograph of a young girl in a library, selecting some books to read

Grover, Mary (2023).
Steel City Readers: Reading for Pleasure in Sheffield, 1925-1955. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.

With the exception of Mairead Owen's (1990) thesis, I haven't come across a lot of work which relates to UK romance readers. Mary Grover's new book doesn't focus on romance, but it is open access and available free for download and it provides important insight into a group of readers whose stories would otherwise have been lost to the academic record. She interviewed "65 men and women who shared their reading histories with the community history group ‘Reading Sheffield’ between 2011 and 2019" and

All were born before 1946. Their reading memories were collected by the community history group, ‘Reading Sheffield’, between 2011 and 2019. These readers were born in a time of economic depression followed by wartime and post-war austerity. They grew up in an industrial city which for most of the twentieth century set little store by bookish or clerkly skills. Yet they developed a habit of reading that changed their lives, personally, culturally and economically. How and why did this happen?

There isn't a lot specifically about romance novels, because the focus is on readers and where/how/why they obtained their reading material but I've collected the quotes specifically about the genre here. If you're interested in the history of Sheffield/libraries/reading, this is definitely worth a look.

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