Story of this Library

Who even in the best of health does not know how difficult it is to read a book while in a recumbent position?

Girls Own Paper, 1900

Sleep with Them

Light, adjustable, no need to turn the pages – the electronic book reader was a revelation for anyone who was unwell or confined to bed. But the Victorians were there well before us. In 1900, the Girls Own Paper created the Invalid Library – ‘noiseless’ stories, ‘printed upon long strips of linen’, ideal for wounded soldiers, hospitals, infirmaries and workhouses. The image below, entitled, ‘Reading Her Pain Away’ shows a woman holding one of these fabric books, ‘printed on sateen’

Books and health have an intriguingly linked history, from drugstores which used to dispense books along with medicines to the pharma companies who used children’s books as marketing tools. This one, produced by the makers of “Mrs Winslow’s Soothing Syrup” in around 1915 is a good example.

Fables from Aesop, Soothing Syrup

Parents might have been a little less liberal with the syrup if they’d known that it contained morphine.

Discover more about What People do with Books