A Catalogue of a Young Country Ladies Library
Anne Baker, 1712
02.09.23 - 01.10.23
This exhibition celebrated a publication, with the same title, which presents a selection of old photographic postcards depicting women reading.
Belonging to a collection of artist and researcher Louis Porter, most of these date from the early 20th century, when the photographic postcard medium was a recent invention. As postcards, these images were intended for distribution and so it is important to see them as a means for self-projection. The selected postcards are juxtaposed with a fictional women's library devised in 1712 by Anne Baker in response to the failure of The Spectator (the most popular periodical of the time) to produce a promised list of recommended reading for women.
Both the images and text attest to the complex relationship between the book and social identity. As the academic Melanie Bigold states in her essay for the publication, "the formation of a library is a creative and cultural act, and collections of books—whether read or not—are conduits for self-definition."