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The Australian Common Reader is an interactive digital archive of the reading habits and practices of ordinary Australians since the nineteenth century. You can use it to search or browse for detailed information about Australian library holdings and loans, and search or browse archives of individual readers based on their diaries and letters.


Fiction and the Australian Reading Public, 1888-1914

September 1, 2008
Tim DolinPapers, Reading

For a brief moment in the history of the modern West, between about 1880 and 1920, narrative fiction in books, newspapers, and magazines dominated the rapidly growing markets for transnational mass-produced popular entertainment in English, before being challenged successively by cinema, radio, and television.

Victorian Domestic Fiction and the Settler Reader: Annie Baxter Dawbin, 1834-1868

June 8, 2008
Tim DolinDiaries, Papers, Victorian Fiction

At the forefront of the new empiricism in literary studies has been the call for a “larger idea of literary history” and a counter-intuitive idea of how to approach critical reading.

The Secret Reading Life of Us

June 8, 2008
Tim DolinPapers

It is no secret that Australia, when it was formally constituted as a nation in 1901, was already a nation of readers; nor that most Australians read, and still read, fiction.


    Random Quote

    “The Unknown Public is, in a literary sense, hardly beginning, as yet, to learn to read.... it is perhaps hardly too much to say that the future of English fiction may rest with this Unknown Public, which is now waiting to be taught the difference between a good book and a bad. It is probably a question of time only.... When that period comes, the readers who rank by millions, will be the readers who give the widest reputations, who return the richest awards, and who will, therefore, command the service of the best writers of their time.”

    Wilkie Collins, "The Unknown Public", in Household Words [1858]