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Literacy Rate in England, AD1611

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by Dr. Bob, May 3, 2003.

  1. Dr. Bob

    Dr. Bob Administrator
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    Anyone know what percentage of English speaking people could read/write at the time of the AV?

    Know Shakespeare coined literally "hundreds" of new words in writing his plays (same time frame). And the elite were highly educated, for sure.

    I know from my US History that only 1% were college educated just 100 years ago. And in the Civil War, many units had only a few literate.

    What about the "plowboy" and common man? Was the average "John Doe" able to read the AV?

    Thanks. Appreciate the "source" for any thoughts, too! :cool:
     
  2. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member

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    I'm just wondering if the illiterate can read any Bible?? :confused: :eek:
     
  3. rsr

    rsr <b> 7,000 posts club</b>
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    From John Brewer, The Pleasures of the Imagination: English Culture in the Eighteenth Century (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997) 155.

    I'm unable to say whether this definition of literacy corresponds to ours. We define it as the ability to read and write. Throughout history, reading has been more common than writing, partly because writing materials were so expensive.

    Some estimates of literacy are based on who could sign their names on church registers. It's generally believed that the reading rate was substantially higher than what would be indicated by the number of people who could write.
     
  4. rsr

    rsr <b> 7,000 posts club</b>
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    I ran across this tidbit about Elizabethan literacy from the St. Ives Historical Society:

    ST. IVES HISTORICAL SOCIETY

    A little different picture is presented by the Encyclopedia Brittanica:

    ELIZABETHAN SOCIETY
     
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