town and unitary authority, geographic and historic county of Berkshire, southern England, 38 miles (61 km) west of London. It is an important junction of railways running west from London and south from the Midlands, and the Kennet and Avon Canal (to Bath and Bristol) and the River Thames afford it connections by water. It lies on the River Kennet where it joins the Thames. Reading was a Danish encampment as early as 871. Between the 12th and 16th century Reading was dominated by a struggle for privileges between the abbey and the emergent merchants' guild. The town suffered severely in the English Civil Wars of the mid-17th century. By the 17th century the town's trade, notably in clothing, had begun to decline. In the 18th century the chief trade was in malt. The first town charter is that of Henry III (1253), confirmed and amplified by succeeding sovereigns. The government charter until 1835 was that of Charles I (1639), incorporating the town under the title of the mayor, aldermen, and burgesses. The market, held on Saturday, can be traced to the reign of Henry III. In the public gardens are the ruins of a Benedictine abbey, founded by Henry I in 1121 and once ranking as third in all England; it was dissolved by Henry VIII, who turned it into a palace, but then it was destroyed during the English Civil Wars. A tablet in the chapter house notes that the famous medieval round Sumer is icumen in was written by a monk here about 1240. A memorial stone marks the grave of Henry I (d. 1135). In Reading Gaol, adjoining the ruins, Oscar Wilde wrote the long letter later revised and published as De Profundis; the long poem The Ballad of Reading Gaol came later. Reading is an agricultural centre noted for the bulbs produced in its nursery gardens. Its other best-known industries are biscuit manufacture and malting and brewing, but there is much business in printing, iron foundries, engineering works, and computers. There are pottery and brickworks, together with riverside boatbuilding yards. A university college was opened in 1892, affiliated to the University of Oxford; it became an independent university in 1926. Its researches into agriculture, horticulture, and dairying are of special importance. Area, 15 square miles (40 square km). Pop. (1998 est.) 147,800. city, seat (1752) of Berks county, southeastern Pennsylvania, U.S., on the Schuylkill River, 51 miles (82 km) northwest of Philadelphia. Laid out in 1748 by Nicholas Scull and William Parsons on land owned by Thomas and Richard Penn (sons of William Penn, Pennsylvania's founder), it was built around Penn Common, a large open square, and named for the hometown of the Penn family in Berkshire, England. During the American Revolution, Reading served as a supply depot and manufacturer of cannon. Industrial growth began in the late 18th century with the development of the iron and steel industries in Berks county. After the production of upper Great Lakes ore overshadowed that of Pennsylvania ore, Reading shifted to the fabrication of iron and steel. The opening of the Schuylkill Canal to Philadelphia (1824) and the Union Canal to Lebanon and Middletown on the Susquehanna River (1828) and the completion of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad (1884) greatly stimulated industrial growth. In the 1890s, safety-bicycle manufacturing mushroomed. Development of the textile and hosiery industry was started about 1900 by two German technicians, Ferdinand Thun and Henry Janssen, who installed the first braiding and knitting machine in the country. Modern industries include the manufacture of batteries, automotive frames, truck bodies, bricks, electronic components, specialty steels, hats, and door locks. The city also has more than 300 factory outlet stores. Reading is the seat of Albright College (1856), Alvernia College (1958), and the Berks campus (1958) of Berks-Lehigh Valley College of Pennsylvania State University (Penn State Berks). Mount Penn (1,300 feet [396 metres]), with a red-and-gold pagoda (1908) and a stone observation tower (1939) at its summit, is the centre of a city park. Local historic landmarks include the Daniel Boone Homestead (where Boone was born in 1734), the Conrad Weiser Homestead (1729), and Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site (an example of an early rural American iron-making plantation). An annual folk festival at nearby Kutztown reflects the Pennsylvania Dutch (German) heritage of the area. Inc. borough, 1783; city, 1847. Pop. (1990) city, 78,380; Reading MSA, 336,523; (1998 est.) city, 74,762; (1996 est.) Reading MSA, 352,353.
Meaning of READING in English
Britannica English vocabulary. Английский словарь Британика. 2012