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historybooks is about the authorship, publishing and reading of history in Britain 1800-1914.

Dr. Leslie Howsam has been investigating the genre of history as an aspect of the history of the book and print culture since 1998.

The website includes two major databases – “Sources for the Study of Historians in Britain” and “History in the Periodical Press Online” as well as links to related material.

Victorian books on a shelf

Past into Print: The Publishing of History in Britain 1850-1950

The book first appeared as Lyell Lectures at the University of Oxford in 2006; the book was published in 2009 by The British Library and University of Toronto Press.

It demonstrates how knowledge of the past was captured in books and periodicals, interweaving such themes as the way in which history learned in the nursery was remembered through life; the agency of the publisher in the making of history books; the tension between academic and popular approaches to the past; and the materiality of the history book.

Sources for the Study of Historians in Britain

This database is an alphabetical list of over 1000 practitioners of history in Britain during the 19th and 20th centuries. It was generated as part of the research for Past into Print and is made public here for the benefit of other scholars. It includes a brief biographical note on each person and identifies whether further information is available in the National Register of Archives, in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography or in a dedicated biographical study.

HiPPO: History in the Victorian Periodical Press Online

This database contains 2721 of accounts of history published from 1809 to 1916 in nineteen Victorian periodicals – magazines, journals and reviews aimed at children and adults, men and women, wealthy and poor. The genres include book reviews, scholarly narratives, anecdotes, comic and satiric discourse, and other kinds of writing, all building on Victorian Britons’ preoccupation with the past of their own country, of their empire and of the world.