Includes bibliographical references (pages -206) and index.
Introduction : modernity and the reading public -- 1. 'The great fiction bore' : free libraries and their users -- Gissing and the common reader -- The public library movement -- Fiction and the public space -- Libraries, reading and the performance of gender and class -- Moral guardianship and the librarian -- 2. Sensation and sensibility : W. H. Smith and the railway bookstall -- An engine for social change -- Train travel and the reader's psyche -- Circulation and censorship : policing the literature of the rail -- 'Something hot and strong' : bookstalls, protection and escapism -- 3. 'People read so much now and reflect so little' : Oxford University Press and the classics series -- Creating a classic -- A new direction for Oxford University Press -- 'The husks of books' : cheap classics and cultural distinction -- 4. 'The little woman' and 'the boomster' : Marie Corelli, Hall Caine and the literary field of the 1890s -- The power to consecrate : the critic as novelist -- Hall Caine and the 'realist' romance -- The reviewing of gender -- Marie Corelli and the romance of emancipation -- 5. 'Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Barclay' : the literary field before the First World War -- Authorship and art -- 'Infuriating the ungodly' : the popular fiction of Florence Barclay -- 'Like a machine' : Bennett and the popular as art.