The William Hone Biotext
William Hone (1780-1842) arguably did more than any other writer, printer, or publisher to shape British popular print culture in the early decades of the nineteenth century. When Hone entered into public life at about the turn of the century, print culture was still primarily the province of the wealthier upper and emerging middle classes; by the time of Hone's death in 1842, print culture had expanded dramatically to include a "mass reading public" in something resembling the contemporary sense of the term. One of the BioText's founding premises is that Hone himself had a lot to do with this demographic and political shift.
Hone is a significant figure in early nineteenth-century print culture, and the BioText offers several kinds of resources for the study of the man, his publications, and his effects on literary culture more generally. In effect, the BioText is an academic experiment that combines what have traditionally been separate genres of scholarly endeavor—biography, bibliography, and textual editing. In the biographical section readers will discover a brief "ten-minute biography," a chronology of the period, "fragments" of a more extended biography, an index (with selections) of Hone's correspondence, and other such primary and secondary documents. The bibliographical section includes both primary and secondary bibliogaphies of works by, associated with, or about Hone. The section also includes descriptions of the chief Hone archives of primary document repositories both in Britain and the United States. Finally, the etexts section offers a small but growing library of the full texts of Hone's works.
Different readers will find different paths through the materials presented in the BioText, but I would suggest that visitors who are relatively unfamiliar with Hone begin with the "ten minute biography" which is available both in HTML and in an easily printable four-page PDF. For a more detailed chronological framework complete with links to biographical and bibliographical citations, the Chronology page can serve as a useful starting point for a survey of Hone's "Life and Works." Those who are interested in the initial rationale for a site like the BioText will want to read the introductory "Discursive Hosts" essay.