In this classic first volume of English Books and Readers, first published in 1952, H. S. Bennett covers in detail the history of books from Caxton down to the incorporation of the Stationers' Company, discussing the evidence for public literacy, the regulation of the book trade, the demand for books, the authors, translators, and printers of early books, and their methods. It is a history of society at the opening of the Art of Printing, without which civilization as we know it could hardly have taken shape at all - a chapter in the human story, unique in its significance and remarkably obscure before this book was first published.
Review of the hardback: 'He has brought a clear head and an infinite capacity for taking pains to the sifting and orderly presentation of his evidence, which he has distilled into 238 closely reasoned pages … It will be a standard reference-book; a lucidly arranged collection of passages illustrating literacy, the regulation of the book trade, and the aims and methods of authors, translators and printers.' The Times Literary Supplement
Prologue; 1. Caxton and his literary heritage; 2. Literacy; 3. The regulation of the book trade; 4. Patronage; 5. The demand for books; 6. The variety of books; 7. Translations and translators; 8. The printers; 9. The printing of the book; Appendix I; Appendix II; Bibliography; General index; Index of passages.