Expanding 'Henry': Fiction Reading and its Artifacts in a British Literary Society

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Members of the Henry Williamson Society talk of what fiction reading does for them. Their experience of literature is connected to their appreciation of the author Henry Williamson as a central and mythic figure. How Henry is composed determines the kind of actors readers can be and also explains the capacities assigned to the Williamson artifacts-books and land-that they identify. In this article, I explore a theory of reading as relationship and examine the role of literature as an instrument of social agency. I focus on the relationships that society members draw out around solitary acts of reading and Literary society activities, including the way they assign causation. within a matrix of relations. As well as examining their culture of owning, reading, and displaying books, I investigate society members appreciation of geographical Location. The article aims to contribute to the development of anthropological theories of literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-122
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Ethnologist
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2004


  • solitary reader
  • mind
  • agency
  • place
  • material culture
  • United Kingdom


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