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Parochial Brits?

Is the British reading public insular?

By Alistair Niven   December 1999

By history and by ethnic make-up Britain is a polyglot society. It has the opportunity to be wide-ranging and cosmopolitan in its reading choices, but is often said not to be. Indeed, in its literary (and other) tastes it is accused of insularity and philistinism. How true is this?

When in the late 1980s I ran the literature policies of the Arts Council of Great Britain-the predecessor to the four Arts Councils we now have-I undertook, with the help of the Library Association, to test whether British reading tastes, as evidenced by library loans of fiction and poetry, were as…

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