Readers and Reading in the First World War

Towheed, Shafquat; Benatti, Francesca and King, Edmund G. C. (2015). Readers and Reading in the First World War. Yearbook of English Studies, 45 pp. 239–261.



This essay consists of three individually authored and interlinked sections. In ‘A Digital Humanities Approach’, Francesca Benatti looks at datasets and databases (including the UK Reading Experience Database) and shows how a systematic, macro-analytical use of digital humanities tools and resources might yield answers to some key questions about reading in the First World War. In ‘Reading behind the Wire in the First World War’ Edmund G. C. King scrutinizes the reading practices and preferences of Allied prisoners of war in Mainz, showing that reading circumscribed by the contingencies of a prison camp created an unique literary community, whose legacy can be traced through their literary output after the war. In ‘Book-hunger in Salonika’, Shafquat Towheed examines the record of a single reader in a specific and fairly static frontline, and argues that in the case of the Salonika campaign, reading communities emerged in close proximity to existing centres of print culture. The focus of this essay moves from the general to the particular, from the scoping of large datasets, to the analyses of identified readers within a specific geographical and temporal space. The authors engage with the wider issues and problems of recovering, interpreting, visualizing, narrating, and representing readers in the First World War.

Viewing alternatives

Download history


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions