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18th-Century Libraries: Book of the Month Club: Fielding's Tom Jones

Friday, February 25, 2022 - 10:00 AM | On the Zoom Meetings platform | open to the public | free of charge | registration required

Libraries, Reading Communities and Cultural Formation in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic is a three-year project that began in October 2019. Based in the History Department at the University of Liverpool, its primary aim is to investigate the contribution of books to social, cultural, and political change in the eighteenth century. It will do this by exploring in unprecedented range and depth the role played by voluntary subscription libraries in the reading lives of communities and individuals across the Anglophone Atlantic between 1731 and 1800. The New York Society Library, with our extensive 18th-century history, is pleased to be a partner library in this project.

The 18th-century Libraries Online team together with partner libraries will be running a Book of the Month Club throughout 2022, drawing attention to books that appealed to eighteenth-century library goers. This month, the team has selected Henry Fielding's groundbreaking novel The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling. Read the book or an excerpt for discussion, or come just to learn about the book's popularity and impact. Tom Jones was extremely popular when it was first published in 1749 and became instrumental in the rise of the novel during this period, telling the story of the foundling Tom and his adventurous route to marriage and prosperity. Project Co-Investigator Dr. Matthew Sangster (University of Glasgow) will outline the enduring popularity of Fielding’s novel, asking why a book that was in many ways so rude was so regularly held up as a model for style – and how it remained a familiar presence in library goers reading choices well into the nineteenth century.


Find out more about the 18th-Century Libraries Online project on the project's website.