The early twentieth century was a period of remarkable literary productivity, rich in quantity and quality, in experimentation and innovation. The publishing industry was expanded and modernised, and there was a huge increase in the production and sale of books. Various developments increased the demand for reading material. Elementary education became universal, and higher education was made available on an unprecedented scale. The public library system was developed. The growing trade union movement reacted against the excessive working hours imposed on the masses in the hey-day of Victorian capitalism, and a vast increase in leisure followed. This was happening in a period that was especially rich in major writers of genius who have taken their places alongside the great writers of the past. The age was also rich in writers of lesser rank who produced neither masterpieces nor works of outstanding imaginative power, but served their readers with works of high entertainment value and accomplished craftsmanship. In short, the age of Joyce and Eliot, Lawrence and Yeats, was also the age of Galsworthy and Wells, Wodehouse and Masefield.
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