Abstract

This article reads the meeting minutes for trends in the approvals and rejections of books, policies, and informal practices of the Wisbech Literary Society of Wisbech, Cambs, from 1797 to 1802. I demonstrate how the Society encouraged sociability amid the influence exerted by founder and longtime president Mann Hutchesson. This article reviews the literature of the associational practices of other subscription libraries in eighteenth-century England and the limitations of reading catalogues and borrowing records alone; introduces Mann Hutchesson and the founding of the Wisbech Literary Society; reads the Society's meeting minutes for the tacit and explicit sociable behaviors expected of members; and explores the members' generic coherence in their selection of travel writing through Mann Hutchesson. This article brings to light not only the internal dynamics of sociability within a Georgian subscription library, but also gestures to how such societies saw themselves in network with others.

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