Beautifully written and skilfully argued, Andrew Hobbs’s book makes a significant contribution to the study of the Victorian newspaper and periodical press. He reminds us that readers—the ordinary working people whose mindset historians care about—looked to the journalism of their local communities. The book also contributes to a broader social and cultural historiography—not only of Preston but of the whole concept of ‘locality’ and communication in Britain’s nineteenth century.
—Prof. Leslie Howsam, University of Windsor
Hobbs’ new book on the local press in Britain is remarkable for its original research, its granularity and its diversity. On a topic that has been genuinely neglected by scholars, it is a convincing illustration that the difficult task of documenting the ‘historical’ reader is achievable on a convincing scale, which will inform our understanding of the ‘implied’ reader. Hobbs’ huge array of sources is clearly shaped and presented accessibly. A Fleet Street in Every Town is unparalleled in studies of the local press.
—Prof. Laurel Brake, Birkbeck, University of London
At the heart of Victorian culture was the local weekly newspaper. More popular than books, more widely read than the London papers, the local press was a national phenomenon. This book redraws the Victorian cultural map, shifting our focus away from one centre, London, and towards the many centres of the provinces. It offers a new paradigm in which place, and a sense of place, are vital to the histories of the newspaper, reading and publishing.
Hobbs offers new perspectives on the nineteenth century from an enormous yet neglected body of literature: the hundreds of local newspapers published and read across England. He reveals the people, processes and networks behind the publishing, maintaining a unique focus on readers and what they did with the local paper as individuals, families and communities. Case studies and an unusual mix of quantitative and qualitative evidence show that the vast majority of readers preferred the local paper, because it was about them and the places they loved.
A Fleet Street in Every Town positions the local paper at the centre of debates on Victorian newspapers, periodicals, reading and publishing. It reorientates our view of the Victorian press away from metropolitan high culture and parliamentary politics, and towards the places where most people lived, loved and read. This is an essential book for anybody interested in nineteenth-century print culture, journalism and reading.
The University of Central Lancashire and the Marc Fitch Fund have generously contributed to this Open Access publication.