Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Imprinting Britain: Newspapers, Sociability, and the Shaping of British North America

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Imprinting Britain: Newspapers, Sociability, and the Shaping of British North America

Article excerpt

Michael Eamon, Imprinting Britain: Newspapers, Sociability, and the Shaping of British North America (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2015), 288 pp. Cased. $110. ISBN 978-0-7735-4490-1. Paper. $34.95. ISBN 978-0-7735-4491-8.

In this book Michael Eamon looks at the development of English-language newspapers in late eighteenth-century Halifax and Quebec City. Both of these colonial capitals were garrison towns with a significant British naval and army presence. Nova Scotia and Quebec were part of North American networks which included the press. These survived Britain's loss of the 13 rebel colonies as a result of the American War of Independence and the foundation of the United States.

Eamon suggests the print community played an important role in the evolution of British North American society. Newspapers were relatively expensive in this period and so it not surprising that he finds that their readership was a small segment of the population disproportionately made up of members of the colonial elite. Newspaper publishing was not especially profitable, so in each of the two colonies appointment as the King's printer would have been a financially desirable sinecure even if there was a cost in terms of editorial latitude. As well as disseminating news during the late eighteenth century, newspapers in Halifax and Quebec City evolved as print forums which served to mould social discourse and public taste. Eamon shows that members of the print community used the press to promote the coffeehouse as the preferred milieu for the colonial elite to socialise. He also shows that newspapers helped legitimise acceptance of the theatre in polite society. …

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