The British book trade and what’s missing

P. Meijer Warnars’ bookshop in Amsterdam, painted 1820 by Johannes Jelgerhuis

Weedon, A., & Bott, M. (1996). British book trade archives 1830-1939: a location register. Bristol: Simon Eliot and Michael Turner.

I ordered this book through interlibrary loan (the service I could not do without). It was rather smaller than I imagined, basically a bound photocopied book that listed British book traders and publishers.

Then I realized why it was small – I think people are missing. I couldn’t find a single educational publishing house or book trader, and I know that there was at least one. William Briggs had a bookshop for his press, W.B. Clive, out of the University Correspondence College, at 13 Bookseller’s Row in the Strand.

I ordered the book hoping to find other educational booksellers, and there weren’t any. So it occurred to me that what I was seeing with book traders might be true in other areas. I started to notice that history journals had few articles on the history of education, and that Victorian Studies journals didn’t either. History of education journals (I found two) had little written by historians.

In the article “Victorian Education and the Periodical Press” (2017), Janice Schroeder also noticed this gap. I recently became a member of the Research Society of Victorian Periodicals, and, as she did, search the huge volume (a freebie for new member) of the Dictionary of Victorian Periodicals. There isn’t much at all.

I honestly didn’t expect this. Why wouldn’t the history of education be like the history of anything else? Time to examine further…

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