Research Trips & Excursions

Book indigestion from Jon Mee

I spent most of yesterday in the Sheffield Archive tracing literary clubs and societies in the city after1800. Interestingly, it was mostly a constellation of the same group of people, usually involving the poet James Montgomery, who finally came together to form the Sheffield Literary and Philosophical Society at the end of 1822. Among the enthusiastic joiners was Thomas Asline Ward, whose correspondence and diaries show him to have been ready to sign up for anything that would put him in contact with books, although at one point he writes to his old friend Joseph Hunter (then away studying at Manchester College, York) to confess that he was developing into a restless bibliophile with bookish indigestion:

‘I have so easy an access to books that I think it in some measure a disadvantage. Novelty is perpetually attracting, & allures me from one steady pursuit. I swallow with avidity whatever presents itself, & digest nothing properly’

Here’s a page from his diary from early in 1822 that shows just how busy he was with the world of books:


The archive at Sheffield is wonderful, and really well catalogued in relation to the Literary and Philosophical Society. I’m really grateful to the very helpful staff.

One thought on “Book indigestion from Jon Mee

  1. I was very interested to read this as I am researching the Sheffield Book Society 1806-1944. This came about from my involvement in primary research done by Reading Sheffield on reading habits of Sheffielders 1935-1965. My friend & colleague is researching another Sheffield book society and we are presenting a paper at the 2015 Community Libraries Conference. I have just noticed that you will also be there! I was at the January 2014 Colloquium and was very interested in the paper given by Sherylynne and John Haggerty, where they used digital representations of networks of readership & influence.

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