The Greatest Literary Works

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From Holmes to Harry Potter; British popular fiction.

Written by son of rambow on Saturday, September 12, 2009

BESTSELLERS are in the air at the moment. A recent BBC television series "Reading the Decades" took a ten-yearly census of the books that had got people reading, talking and, most importantly, buying, during the post-war period. Now Clive Bloom extends that enquiry back to the beginning of the 20th century, by when Britain could be said to have become unequivocally literate (at the outbreak of the first world war only 1% of the population was still unable to read).

The reasons behind this sudden need to investigate what kinds of books people want to buy (or borrow, for Mr Bloom pays special attention to the role of local libraries in keeping sales of authors such as Catherine Cookson and Frederick Forsyth in their millions) are not hard to guess. The recent...

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