There are days when it can feel tough to be a writer–increasing competition from other media, the large number of people trying to enter the profession, the low pay, etc. And yet, compared to the past, the arts have come a long way.
THE PLEASURES OF THE IMAGINATION: ENGLISH CULTURE IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY by John Brewer (ISBN 0-374-23458-2) is a fascinating look into the rise of professional artists in literature, painting, music, and theater in the eighteenth century. It is also a fun glimpse into the lives and minds of people living in Britain during the Enlightenment. Brewer also does an excellent job of weaving the personal stories of various artists with overviews about the cultural revolutions that occurred.
If I were a writer of historical fiction set in the 1700s in Britain, this book would sit within easy reach on my reference shelf.
Also, I came away from reading this book with a much better understanding of the roots of the conflict between writers and publishers over copyright laws and contracts.