14 ‘Must Reads’ for the Victorian Student of Literature

William Davenport Adams (1851-1904) was the son of the prolific author/journalist William Henry Davenport Adams (1828-1891 – don’t get them mixed up, now!). He worked hard to follow in his father’s footsteps, beginning his journalistic career in 1870 with the Nottingham Daily Guardian, then later becoming the literary director for The Globe (1885). His specialty was poetry, but he also wrote books about books, of which this volume is one,  the popular Dictionary of English Literature, and another, Dictionary of the Drama.

There is no copyright date in this particular edition, but I think it is from the 1880s, so a lovely example of the publication in a splashy period cloth binding. The book itself was originally published in 1881.

Wouldn’t this be an interesting list to work through for a Victorian-themed reading group…? I’ve read bits of five of them. I’ll start one of those Facebook lists on our bookshop page so you can determine whether you’d have passed English Lit back in the good old days!

Adams, W. Davenport. Famous Books: Sketches in the highways and byeways of English literature. New York: R. Worthington, nd. (c.1881) [5] vi [1] 2-384 [2] in decorated red cloth over boards. Decorations in black on spine and front board with title blind-stamped into gilt background, publisher’s logo gilt-stamped to tail of spine, decorations blind-stamped to rear board. Cover edges softened and worn head and tail of spine, cloth lightly worn at extreme corner tips. P.o.n., arms and motto embossed top first blank, his name, a contemporary date and name of the person who gifted it are lightly inked top first blank else pages clean with a minimum of aging present. Binding quite tight. A nice copy. Antique, Literature, Reference ECB10184 $30.00

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