Monday, October 15, 2018

Reading - 18C American Woman with a Book

1794 James Earl (American artist, 1761-1796) Mrs. John Rogers (Elizabeth Rodman) holding a book

Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790) learned to read at home. He wrote that his “early readiness in learning to read (which must have been very early, as I do not remember when I could not read)” prompted his father to send him to grammar school to learn to write & cipher in preparation for the ministry. After only 2 years, the expense of educating his youngest son became a burden to the family. Eventually Franklin was apprenticed to his elder brother, James Franklin, a printer.  Continuing to improve his reading & writing skills as an apprentice, Franklin borrowed books from a bookseller & recalled how “often I sat up in my room reading for the greatest part of the night, while the book was borrowed in the evening & to be returned early in the morning, least it should be missed or wanted.” Franklin’s story reveals not only where he read & how he obtained books, but also a typical working colonial could find time for reading. “My time … for reading was at night, after work or before it began in the morning, or on Sundays when I contrived to be at the printing house alone.”