In twentieth-century England not only everyone can read, but it is safe to add that everyone does read. Though the Report on Public Libraries (1927) states that not more than 11 per cent of the population make use of the public library books, yet the number of Sunday newspapers sold will correct any false impression these figures may give. On the day of leisure even the poorest households take a newspaper, though it may be of a different type from that favoured by the educated. A Sunday morning walk through any residential district will reveal the head of the family ‘reading the paper’ in each front window; in the poorest quarters the News of the World is read on the doorstep or in bed; the weekly perusal of the Observer or the Sunday Times, which give a large proportion of their contents to book-reviews and publishers’ advertisements, is in many cases the only time that even the best-intentioned businessman or schoolmaster can spare for his literary education.
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