Ordinary Writings, Personal Narratives

Writing Practices in 19th and early 20th-century Europe

by Martyn Lyons (Volume editor)
Edited Collection 218 Pages


Historians have often assumed that the lives of the poor and illiterate can never be known because they have left little written record of their existence. The voices of the uneducated are there, however, and their written traces can be deciphered, if we take the trouble to look for them. This book will establish some of the main themes and frontiers of a new field of historical study: that of ‘ordinary writings’, (or écritures ordinaries) – the improvised and often ephemeral writings of the poor, the young and the hitherto silent people of history.
This collection of new studies from France, Belgium, Finland, Spain, Iceland, Greece, Italy and Britain has a coherent focus on the transition to writing literacy in 19th and 20th century Europe. The overall theme is the access of ordinary people to writing, examined in the concrete forms which writing took and the specific functions which it performed. The uses of writing, and the cultural practices in which they were embedded, are explained in their context of social and political relations, gender relations and relations between the literate and the illiterate.


ISBN (Softcover)
Geschichte 1800-1950 Modern Euopean History Kongress Europa Schriftlichkeit Malta (2006) Ethnology Education History of Culture
Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2007. 218 pp.

Biographical notes

Martyn Lyons (Volume editor)

The Editor: Martyn Lyons was born in London and is Professor of History at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. He is the author of several works on French revolutionary history and on the history of the book and of reading practices. He was co-author of Australian Readers Remember (1994), author of Le Triomphe du Livre (1987) and of Readers and Society in 19th-century France (2001), and contributed to A History of Reading in the West (eds Cavallo and Chartier).


Title: Ordinary Writings, Personal Narratives