Professor Simon Eliot
Maximum: 15 students
Venue: Senate House

This course will explore the origins, spread, and impact of printed materials in Europe, and particularly Great Britain, from Gutenberg to the point at which they appear to be facing their greatest challenge in five hundred and fifty years. The course will concern itself not only with processes and products, but with the problems of distribution raised by the mass-manufacture of printed materials, and by the changing nature of the ways in which these materials were read and stored. Most importantly of all, the material nature of the book will be emphasised, and its changing impact on the culture of Europe — and beyond — will be explained in terms of this materiality. 

Key Texts

Altick, R.D., The English Common Reader (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1957). [Particularly chapters 10–15]
Blagden, C., The Stationers’ Company. A history 1403–1959 (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1960), chapters 1–8.
The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999-2010), Volumes 3-6.
Eliot, Simon, ‘The Business of Victorian Publishing’, in The Cambridge Companion to the Victorian Novel, ed. by D.A. David (Cambridge: CUP, 2000), pp. 37–60.
Feather, J., Publishing, Piracy and Politics: an historical study of copyright in Britain (London: Mansell, 1994).
Hellinga, Lotte, William Caxton and Early Printing in England (London: British Library, 2010).
St Clair, W., The Reading Nation in the Romantic Period (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).
Sutherland, J.A., Victorian Novelists and Publishers (London: Athlone Press, 1976).

The course offered brilliant coverage of the history of the printed book. It really helped me to fill in the gaps in my knowledge.