This is the blog for Sheffield Hallam University’s ‘Readerships and Literary Cultures 1900-1950 Special Collection’. We collect popular fiction published between 1900 and 1950, and aim to reflect the wide range of literary tastes during the period. The project began in 2012 and has now been running without any pause between then and now – so in 2022 we enter our tenth year of reading popular fiction. The project has developed and changed over that time – in particular the collection hosted by Sheffield Hallam Library is now complete, in that we have filled the entire allotted shelf-space! However, that has not stopped the two associated reading groups from reading a new author/genre/topic every month, and having covered the majority of the Library collection, reading group members now very generously locate and source their own popular fiction from the first half of the twentieth century.

This blog is a place for the members of our reading groups to share reviews of the books we read with each other and the readers of the blogosphere.

The Library collection consists of some 1200 novels, most in early editions, by 229 different authors. It is important to collect and research these novels because these are what the majority of people read. Many are forgotten now, but they were the best-sellers and lending library favourites of their day! These novels therefore have the potential to reveal an enormous amount about readerships, attitudes to reading, and cultural life. They are rarely preserved systematically elsewhere. University libraries have never collected this type of fiction, while public libraries disposed of such books once they fell out of fashion, or in some very useful instances, put them into store.

You can download a list of authors we hold.

We’d love to hear your views on these books.

3 thoughts on “About

  1. I’m delighted to have discovered this site, which I came across whilst reading about “The Green Hat” by Arlen and which covers the period of literature which interests me the most (though I would extend it back a little to include The Incomparable Max). One of my favourites is Anthony Powell – I’d be interested to read opinions of his delightful first novel, Afternoon Men (1931) one of my “best friends!”

  2. I discovered this site after Honoria reblogged a Wodehouse review at Plumtopia. This is a really interesting blog and I completely agree with the reasons for amassing the collection at Sheffield Hallam: a valuable resource as well as my own favourite period of literature.

    Have bookmarked the site and will be wandering round whenever I sit down with a cup of tea.

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