19th Century The arise of a book market

In the wake of the Industrial Revolution, which began in the late 18th Century and ultimately would forever change the civilization from agrarian to industrial, also the situation for writers and their audience would change. The book market would change thoroughly thanks to the printing press–until now books had been expensive and exclusive. The printing press would make stories available for a much bigger audience (the lack of literacy would still make reading a matter for the minority, but it would still be a dramatic shift), and lots of new book publishers would go into business. Thanks to increased book sales and bigger economical profit due to the cheaper manufacturing costs an author could–given that the books became enough popular–for the first time earn a living by writing.

A step up for the status of the novel

The status of the novel was considerable lower than the poem until the 19th century. It also remained so in the beginning of the century in which the Romanticism flourished. Many novel writers published their works anonymously whilst the poets could become worshiped celebrities.

But successively the status of the novel did grow and, looking at the siècle in hindsight, many of the biggest names in literature are associated with the prose genres.

In Great Britain there were novelists such as Jane Austen, Walter Scott, Charlotte Brontë, Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy. In France there were Stendhal, Honoré de Balzac, Victor Hugo, Gustave Flaubert, Anatole France and Émile Zola. The great force of culture, Germany, lacks a counterpart in the development of the novel. The big novelists would no turning up until the next century.

Besides the European countries that had dominated under a long time, Russia would under the 19th century rise to new literary glory. Writers such as Nikolai Gogol, Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Leo Tolstoy would accomplish wide reputations.

In the United States a tradition of the novel was taking its outset with Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville and Mark Twain among the leading names.