Saturday, January 30, 2010

Circulating Libraries in the Regency Era

During the Regency Era, books were very expensive, and few families, other than the very rich, were able to afford the cost of an extensive library. A solution to this problem was the circulating library. The first known lending library was established in the Strand in London in 1730 and was run by Mr. Wright, a bookseller. The idea was very popular, and by the beginning of the 19th Century, the number of libraries had grown to 26 . With an increase in literacy, these lending libraries proved to be an affordable way for people to read books. There was a flat charge for the initial subscription, and then a small fee would be charged for each book checked out. One of the more popular books of the Regency Era was Maria Edgeworth’s Tales of Fashionable Life and, I’m sure, The Complete Works of Jane Austen. The drawing shows such a library in Scarborough.

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