History from below

An excellent study of scribal culture

History from below

The Writing Culture of Ordinary People in Europe, c.1860–1920

by Martyn Lyons

Cambridge University Press, $130 hb, 288 pp, 9781107018891

Paul Pickering

Paul Pickering

Paul Pickering is Director of the Research School of Humanities and the Arts at the Australian National University.

‘If in this I have been tedious,’ admitted William Cowper in a letter published in 1750, ‘it may be some excuse, I had not time to make it shorter.’ In The Writing Culture of Ordinary People in Europe, c.1860–1920, Martyn Lyons has accomplished what Cowper could not. This is a short book but withal it successfully tackles an expansive agenda. It is in no way tedious. Indeed, it is an excellent book – ambitious and thought-provoking – and deserving of an equally large audience within the academy and beyond it.

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