Holiday Historical Fiction Blowout!
Welcome to the Holiday Historical Fiction Blowout!
Join me and seven other authors for a tour of the world of historical fiction. From ancient Greece through Roman times, the medieval era, the Wars of the Roses, the golden age of piracy and the Regency, as well as alternate history, there's something for everyone.
On his/her assigned day, each author will post a blog about their respective historical eras. More information about the authors and their books follows my blog post.
And all the books listed here are 99 cents from December 1 to December 8, 2015. Have fun!
I'm up with my Regency romantic comedy, A Similar Taste in Books. Here's my post about Regency libraries, which figure large in the story.
Free public libraries as we know them today did not exist in the Regency. Libraries were part of book shops, and a fee was required to check out books.
Most of the bookshops were concentrated in large cites, such as London. Here’s a list of booksellers in London, with their specialties: http://www.londonancestor.com/leighs/books.htm
Some booksellers kept libraries, and some had Reading Rooms only.
Two of the best known Regency libraries are Hatchard's and Hookham's. Hatchard’s, which figures most prominently in Regency romances and still exists today at its Regency location of 187 Piccadilly, had a Reading Room, while Hookham’s had both a Reading Room and a circulating library.
Libraries were not for the poor. Hookham’s yearly fee for taking out twelve books was forty-two shillings (two guineas, or two pounds, two shillings), about $150 in today’s money. Part of the large fee was due to Hookham’s location in high-priced Mayfair, but some was also due to the cost of books. Books were expensive, thanks to being made from rags and also to a tax on paper, and only the well-heeled could afford to buy or borrow.
Here’s Hookham’s library catalog: http://books.google.com/books/about/A_catalogue_of_Hookham_s_circulating_lib.html?id=WJYIAAAAQAAJ
Here’s Hookham’s ad for its library: http://quod.lib.umich.edu/e/ecco/004773836.0001.000/1:4?rgn=div1;view=fulltext