#LEEDS1914 People reading too much fiction, watching too much football, says city librarian

(Leeds, early March, 1914)

Scan kindly from alexinleeds.com

Scan kindly from alexinleeds.com

People in Leeds are taking less fiction out of the public libraries, but they’re still reading too much of it.

That’s the view of City Librarian T. W. Hand in an interview with the Yorkshire Evening Post in March 1914.

With artisans and professional men requesting more books “to aid them in all departments of knowledge”, the percentage of fiction taken out is falling – down 1.6% to 47.4% in 1913.

But there is still “a too heavy demand for fiction”, Hand says.

“People nowadays have more leisure than ever … but all classes alike spend too much time in the pursuit of highly exciting leisure – the well to do in golfing, and motoring and ‘week-ending’ and ‘idling’ … and the working classes in watching football and attending places of amusement.

“These people make no attempt at being well-informed, and are entirely out of sympathy with intellectual development.”

Hand goes on: “I think, however, there are signs that there will be a reaction against the present craving for pleasure and that people will return to more intellectual pastimes and pursuits.”

All over the country, he says, public libraries are trying to “influence people to get away from the excessive reading of fiction”.

Subscription for “poverty-stricken Leeds”

annveronica

Not available in Leeds public libraries

At the time of the interview Hand had already been in the post of city librarian for 17 years, and had another 13 to go.

He’d been taken to task four years earlier by the novelist Arnold Bennett over his libraries’ policy on stocking fiction.

Why?

Well, there had been a sensation in 1909 when H. G. Wells’ “feminist” novel Ann Veronica was published. In Hull the council’s libraries’ committee had banned it and it wasn’t available in other towns, including Leeds.

Why not?

Bennett quotes Hand as saying: “I haven’t read the book through, though I have seen it, and we haven’t got it in any of our libraries in Leeds. The reason for this is not the character of the book, but the fact that we never purchase our novels until they have become cheaper.”

“Charming confession!,” scolds Bennett. “A subscription ought to be opened for poverty-stricken Leeds, which must wait to buy an English book that is or will be translated into every European language, until it has become cheaper!”

Advertisements

About the leeds citizen

contributions to this blog welcome
This entry was posted in History, Leeds1914 and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s