A Colonial Southern Bookshelf: Reading in the Eighteenth Century

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By Richard Beale Davis
With a new foreword by Catherine Kerrison

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A Colonial Southern Bookshelf studies popular books among southern readers in eighteenth-century America. From booksellers’ lists and sale catalogs, Richard Beale Davis’s study focuses on three key groups of literature: books in law, politics, and history; books on religious topics; and belles lettres. His examination of the colonial southern library suggests many revealing conclusions: persons of many social and economic levels owned and read books; literacy was more widespread than many historians have perceived; the vast majority of the books in southern libraries were published in England and Europe; and colonial newspapers constituted an important influence on cultural tastes. A Colonial Southern Bookshelf takes a historical look at the popular reading lists of the time and what they say about society in eighteenth-century America.

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