Book cover for Literature for the People

Literature for the People



09 May 2024
496 pages
Imprint: Macmillan


Harkness is the best kind of biographer: meticulous, insightful and a great storyteller. This tale of two lives in all their messy reality is so much more enjoyable than any dry or self-promoting publishing history, while at the same time its rich historical, social and intellectual context makes this essential reading for anyone interested in the Victorians.
This is a tremendous read. The story of the Macmillan brothers will captivate anyone with an interest in books and publishing. So well researched and incredibly readable. Sure to be a book of the year
Through meticulous and exuberant detail, this chronicle of two men’s determination to bring literature to the masses blows apart the stereotype of a prim Victorian era. It proves yet again that nothing is inevitable in history – and even the great publishing empires like Macmillan needed adventurers to cut a swathe through established ideas of what people should read. They transformed the canon of English literature through their bold editorial decisions – and this book is an important reminder that stories and ideas flourish in the public imagination because of the combined work of publishers, editors and booksellers cherishing and exploiting the original works of great authors
Revealing and sympathetic . . . in Harkness's persuasive and fluent telling, the Macmillans were at the heart of Victorian intellectual concerns