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Last updated:

September 22, 2023


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This course includes:

Unlimited Duration

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Certificate of completion

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This course, History of reading: An introduction to reading in the past, consists of a series of essays, drawn from material contained in the Reading Experience Database, that illustrate different aspects of reading in Britain during the period from 1450 to 1945. These essays are designed for you as the reader to dip in and dip out, allowing you to pick which essays best suits your purpose.


The 11 essays comprising this course cover a wide range of topics in the history of reading, each designed to whet your appetite to explore the subject further, by searching the UK Reading Experience Database RED yourself. We have designed this course for you to dip in and dip out of, allowing you to select the area that interests you most. Click on the links below to select the essays you’d like to read.
  1. Reading the English Bible
  2. Charles Dickens and his readers
  3. Jane Austen’s readers
  4. A famous novel and its readers: Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre (1847)
  5. Childhood reading in the 1870s and 1880s: the recollections of Molly Hughes
  6. Reading and World War I
  7. Reading places
  8. Reading while traveling
  9. Samuel Pepys: diarist, book collector, and reader
  10. Robert Louis Stevenson’s reading
  11. Reading culture in the Victorian underworld

Learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:
  • Recognize an increased interest in exploring the history of reading
  • Understand a range of examples of research into the history of reading
  • Use RED to follow up on any personal interests in the history of reading.

Course Curriculum

    • Reading the English Bible 00:30:00
    • Charles Dickens and his readers 00:30:00
    • Jane Austen’s Readers 00:30:00
    • A famous Novel and its Readers: Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre (1847) 00:30:00
    • Childhood Reading in the 1870s and 1880s: the recollections of Molly Hughes 00:30:00
    • Reading and World War I 00:30:00
    • Reading Places 00:30:00
    • Reading while travelling 00:20:00
    • Samuel Pepys: Diarist, Book Collector and Reader 00:20:00
    • Robert Louis Stevenson’s Reading 00:20:00
    • Reading Culture in the Victorian Underworld 00:30:00
    • Conclusion 00:10:00

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Open University UK