The study of popular reading habits is in many ways an important one. While the reading habits of the elite form the leading edge of intellectual thought, the vast majority of humanity have had, in the past as well as the present, different habits and aims. Popular literature has been bought right from the beginning by its readers, but from the seventeenth century there has been an interest in it from above, and from the nineteenth century some attempt to study it in detail. In order to recover the reading habits of a real community (Ulster) between 1700 and 1900, a number of methodologies were examined, and the conclusion was come to that a full examination of contemporary evidence was of the utmost importance. Of great use were several advertisements specifically aimed at the unsophisticated reader, dating from the mid‐eighteenth to the mid‐nineteenth century. The material recovered from these agreed well with other evidence. In addition, a contemporary eighteenth century classification of the physical types of popular reading material was found.
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