A one-day symposium on women collectors, curators, and readers in Britain from the Middle Ages to the present.

26 October 2018, 9.30am - 6.45pm, Court Room, First Floor, Senate House, University of London


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For much of the past, men have on the whole been more highly educated than women, and have consequently dominated the world of books. From at least the Middle Ages, however, women have been involved in reading, owning, writing, and even commissioning books: activities that have increased over the centuries. With the advent of public libraries in the nineteenth century, which coincided with increased literacy, and, gradually, with the increased employment of women, women further became involved in looking after public collections of books, first in a clerical fashion and ultimately in positions of leadership.

In the year in which the University of London celebrates the 150th anniversary of women’s first access to University education in Britain with the intake of eight women at Queen Mary College, this symposium explores the interaction of women and books from the Middle Ages to the present, from the time that the book left the printing house: as collectors, owners, readers, and mediators, whether curatorial (librarians) or literary (adapting and translating for new audiences). It aims to enable connections across time and across types of engagement with the book, in discussion covering book, literary, and cultural history.

Invited speakers are: Dr Katie Halsey (University of Stirling), “Women reading Jane Austen” and Dr David Pearson (University of London), “Seventeenth-century women book owners”.








The School of Advanced Study is part of the central University of London. The School takes its responsibility to visitors with special needs very seriously and will endeavour to make reasonable adjustments to its facilities in order to accommodate the needs of such visitors. If you have a particular requirement, please feel free to discuss it confidentially with the organiser in advance of the event taking place. Enquiries: Events Officer, Institute of English Studies, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU; Email: IESEvents@sas.ac.uk