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Self-help books in the early decades of the twentieth century
Jill Kirby

is extremely harmful’ and recommended filling the mind ‘with pleasant thoughts and concentrate on something outside yourself’. 128 Powell in 1926 recommended, ‘Lectures, provided they are not about Egyptian Mummies or some other equally doleful subject, form another useful means of uplift’, and ‘Sermons, too, help if your preacher be an optimist!’ 129 For many reading was an important source of cheer with Browning and Burns's poetry and the works of Robert Louis Stevenson and Punch magazine commended for inspiring a ‘mood of hope and courage and good cheer

in Feeling the strain