at the University of Wisconsin--Milwaukee Golda Meir Library

Author, Publisher, Bookseller, Reader:
Transformations in the 18th-Century British Book Trade

March 24, 1999 through July 2, 1999

18th Century Couple This exhibition, drawn entirely from Special Collections at the Golda Meir Library, was presented in association with the annual meeting in Milwaukee of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, March 24-25, 1999. While the exhibit may have been of some interest to the specialist, it was intended as an introduction to and a general overview of some of the issues and events that helped transform the writer-publisher-reader relationship in eighteenth-century Britain, during a century that forms the transition period between the early modern and the more contemporary British and American book cultures.

This exhibit demonstrated how educational reforms and governmental deregulation fostered increased literacy during the 18th century, and transformed the landscape of British (and American) publishing. It explored changes in authorship, reader tastes, and bookselling that helped redefine the writer-publisher-reader relationship in eighteenth-century Britain, and consequently the future Anglo-American book culture. The activities and contributions of women and of dissenting religious groups, such as the Unitarians, in the 18th century were highlighted. The exhibit also spotlighted innovative 18th-century typefounders and printers, such as William Caslon and John Baskerville, whose work still has relevance in the publishing industry today.

Notable items on display included the 1758 Baskerville-printed edition of Paradise Lost by John Milton; first and early editions of Henry Fielding’s The History of Tom Jones (1749) and Daniel Defoe’s Madagascar; or, Robert Drury’s Journal (1729); and works by women authors, such as Mary de la Reviere, Hester Chapone, Charlotte Lennox, Anna Letitia Aikin Barbauld, and Hannah More.

Under the direction of the Special Collections Librarian Max Yela, this exhibition was researched and organized by Special Collections Intern Jennifer Bach, a graduate student in the UWM Department of History. For more information, please contact Special Collections Librarian Max Yela at (414) 229-4345, or special@gml.lib.uwm.edu.

The image above is from the frontispiece found in The Poetical Works of Matthew Prior.

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Last edited on Monday, July 17, 2000.