Between about 1830 and the outbreak of the First World War, print culture, reading, and writing transformed cultural life in Western Europe in many significant ways. Book production and consumption increased dramatically, and practices such as letter- and diary-writing were widespread. This study demonstrates the importance of the nineteenth century in French cultural change and illustrates the changing priorities and concerns ofl'histoire du livresince the 1970s.
From the 1830s on, book production experienced an industrial revolution which led to the emergence of a mass literary culture by the close of the century. At the same time, the western world acquired mass literacy. New categories of readers became part of the reading public while western society also learned to write.Reading Culture and Writing Practices in Nineteenth-Century Franceexamines how the concerns of historians have shifted from a search for statistical sources to more qualitative assessments of readers' responses. Martyn Lyons argues that autobiographical sources are vitally important to this investigation and he considers examples of the intimate and everyday writings of ordinary people.
Featuring original and intriguing insights as well as references to material hitherto inaccessible to English readers, this study presents a form of 'history from below' with emphasis on the individual reader and writer, and his or her experiences and perceptions.