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Romantic Readers

The Evidence of Marginalia

  • H. J. Jackson
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Chosen as an Outstanding Academic Title for 2006 by Choice Magazine

When readers jot down notes in their books, they reveal something of themselves—what they believe, what amuses or annoys them, what they have read before. But a close examination of marginalia also discloses diverse and fascinating details about the time in which they are written. This book explores reading practices in the Romantic Age through an analysis of some 2,000 books annotated by British readers between 1790 and 1830.

This period experienced a great increase in readership and a boom in publishing. H. J. Jackson shows how readers used their books for work, for socializing, and for leaving messages to posterity. She draws on the annotations of Blake, Coleridge, Keats, and other celebrities as well as those of little known and unknown writers to discover how people were reading and what this can tell us about literature, social history, and the history of the book.

H. J. Jackson is professor, Department of English, University of Toronto. She has published extensively on Romantic literature, and her book Marginalia was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award in literarty criticism.

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