Reading for all: cheap literature


Small paper pamphlets like these, containing between 4 and 24 pages, were produced by publishers across the country during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and distributed efficiently by a network of chapmen – travelling hawkers and salesmen. For 4d or less, readers who may not have owned any other books could purchase what Samuel Pepys described as ‘penny godlinesses’, sermons and morality tales, ‘penny merriments’, including histories, romances, songbooks and jest books, or gruesome and sensational stories of true crime and punishment.

The bloody tragedy shown here has been digitised in full and can be viewed by clicking ‘Open Digital Library’ below.
CCD.7.50.8, 9, 13, 17, 22, 25, 28

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