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Literature for the People by Sarah Harkness


Dates: 24/06/2024

Venue: Parabola Arts Centre

Sarah will tell the story of the two brothers who came from an impoverished childhood in the Scottish highlands to build a publishing empire - and brought Alice in Wonderland to the world. The brothers' remarkable achievements are revealed in this entertaining, superbly researched biography, Literature for the People.

Daniel and Alexander arrived in London in the 1830s at a crucial moment of social change. These two idealistic brothers, working-class sons of a Scottish crofter, went on to set up a publishing house that spread radical ideas on equality, science and education across the world. They also brought authors like Lewis Carroll, Thomas Hardy and Charles Kingsley, and poets like Matthew Arnold and Christina Rossetti, to a mass audience. No longer would books be just for the upper classes.

In Literature for the People Sarah Harkness brings to life these two warm-hearted men. Daniel was driven by the knowledge that he was living on borrowed time, his body ravaged by tuberculosis. Alexander took on responsibility for the company as well as Daniel’s family and turned a small business into an international powerhouse. He cultivated the literary greats of the time, weathered controversy and tragedy, and fostered a dynasty that would include future prime minister Harold Macmillan.

Including fascinating insights about the great, the good and the sometimes wayward writers of the Victorian era, with feuds, friendships and passionate debate, this vibrant book is bursting with all the energy of that exciting period in history.


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