Evidence for the history of reading

I think I’ve previously blogged about the Reading Experience Database, a project based at the Open University in London; as the name suggests, they’re building a big database of evidence of what (and how) people read in Britain, from the advent of printing to 1945. When I last looked at the project site, the database wasn’t open to the public yet. But now it is, and you can search it in a variety of interesting ways. I tried a search to see who read Milton’s Paradise Lost, and another to see who was reading conduct books before the 19th century. You can also search for particular readers, such as Samuel Pepys. Fascinating stuff, all of it.

It’s very much a work in progress, but they’re also looking for people to contribute; I hope I’ll get the chance to send them some evidence. It pleases both my inner book-history geek and my inner web-2.0 enthusiast to see how participatory this project is, and how useful it could eventually become.

2 Responses to “Evidence for the history of reading”

  1. Actually it occurs to me that this is very much like the literary influence database that I was musing about on my blog this morning — glad you reminded me about the RED. I almost applied for a job there once, I remember. Don’t remember why I didn’t. HPr

  2. Amanda says:

    Hey, I almost applied for that same job! IIRC, I didn’t apply because it would mean moving overseas for a two-year position that probably wouldn’t be extended. I’m glad outside people can participate now, though.