The Digression of Women Readers

Jean Honore Fragonard
by Holbrook Jackson (Introduction by Sarah Bennett)

The Book Collector is using our Spring 2019 issue to celebrate Women: women writers, women collectors and women readers. This month’s online article looks at women readers through the eyes of Holbrook Jackson; the Fabian Socialist, writer and journalist who in the 1930s wrote an article for Book Collectors Quarterly titled; The Digression of Women Readers (vol. 5, pp67).

Jackson’s opinions make for a fascinating read. His assumptions for the motives of women readers are certainly at odds with modern sensibilities, suggesting women read "not so much to inform their minds…as to fill or kill the time".

A worthy read for those interested the evolving impact of women on books throughout history. Download and read Holbrook Jackson’s full article here:


We would love to know what you think. Email with your comments.

For more insight into the history of women readers we recommend the following articles:

The Politics of Female Authorship - article by Isobel Grundy from The Book Collector Archive (Issue 1982-01, pp19, available to subscribers only)

Turning the Page – article in The New Yorker by Joan Acocella.

History of Women Readers – online article by Belinda Jack for Yale Books in June 2012 (an introduction to her book, The Woman Reader, 2012, Yale University Press)

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