Tag Archive | Nook

Home, home on the grange

I’m not sure that Nature abhors a vacuum so much as I do, but I do admits to some blank spaces in my book of life which are begging for a good grangering.

In the 18th century, book margins were miniscule and blank pages were unheard of as paper was quite expensive. But in 1769, Rev James Granger, published his Illustrated Biographical History of England with a revolutionary feature: generous blank areas!

Granger thought “modern” readers might wish customize their book by adding all manner of personal thoughts, illustrations, autographs, press notices, whatever. (Try doing that on a Nook/Kindle/iPad!) Granger’s gambled that customizable space was something reader’s would willingly pay for was daring — and paid off handsomely.

Readers went mad for personalization. Indeed, Granger unleashed a tidal wave of creative — some would argue destructive — enthusiasm. Throughout the 19th century and into our own time, “filling up a Granger” was a popular pastime to which all books became subject. (For a modern Grangerite’s work, check out this post on Things To Make and Do, in which a book about Blackpool was grangerised with relevant material.)

Grangerisation was one of the main reasons publishers of books and even newspapers began to print illustrations with blank reverse pages. This way they could be removed  / defaced / “extra illustrated” without the book losing literary integrity or value. Although today, often an otherwise mundane, near worthless, old book found bearing grangerisation, becomes a rare treasure.

Some people thought of Grangerites as vandals, but I prefer to see them as artists, inventors, philosphers, individuals who are unafraid to leave their stamp on something (of their own).   This weed, as we celebrate the freedom of being an individual, I plan to find a little blank space in my book life, and grangerise the devil out of it!