William Hutton

MASTER OF WORDS

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William Hutton is a fascinating example of an eighteenth-century working man – lacking a formal education, but confident, industrious and enterprising.

When he settled in Birmingham in 1750, most inhabitants were unable to read words on a sheet of paper. Yet the town needed people with writing and reading skills to participate in its emerging ‘industrial enlightenment’. Self-taught individuals like Hutton played key roles in Birmingham's development.

When William Hutton (1723-1815) settled in Birmingham in 1750, most inhabitants were unable to read words on a sheet of paper. Yet the town needed people with writing and reading skills to participate in its emerging ‘industrial enlightenment’. Commerce, politics, and social life required informed citizens. But how were words on paper to be understood by an untrained populace?

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