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JK Rowlings and Shakespeare are the giants of English literature or so the latest survey would have us believe. Charles Dickens get’s a mention too, but precious few other famous English authors. Last October, the Royal Society of Literature figure out to discover how far British residents understand about literature. They published the findings (pdf) in their poll yesterday, and the outcomes were…combined.

Around 75 percent said they’d read something non-work-related at the previous six months, so it can be classified as literature.  Seventy percent of all respondents said that they believed literature is something which comforts individuals in times of pressure. In reaction to another question, 15 percent said they believed literature is too tricky to comprehend.

Of course, our reading habits have changed and indeed the survey would have better results if it concerned online media.  For example knowledge of other forms of the arts such as films has greatly increased.  A new IP address for US Netflix is probably preferable to a new library to most people, unfortunately.

When asked if they can name any living or deceased individual who composed that which might be considered paranoid, 20 percent replied no, they did not understand, were not certain, or could not recall. Of those who may reply, Shakespeare was that the individual named many, followed by Dickens and Rowling.

Surveyors left over the definition of exactly what constitutes literature up for their interviewees. “We needed the people to inform us what literature would be to them, as opposed to inform them what we believed,” says Annette Brook, communications supervisor for your 197-year-old nonprofit arts business. Only two authors of color have been appointed by more than 1 individual: Zadie Smith and Haruki Murakami.

“It was surprising that the 75 percent of people felt that someone they’d read in the past six months had been assassinated,” says Brook. “This has been exciting for many people, heartening, satisfying. However, how a substantial minority do not access read or literature at all actually; that isn’t surprising. That’s only sad for all of us”

Further Reading On Netflix Accessibility