It is very difficult to access Early Modern English literacy.Therefore no exact numbers and levels of literacy within the Early Modern English period can be made. An estimated percentage of basic literacy skills in the mid-17th-century range from 10-30 per cent of the English population, with varying degrees in rural and urban areas.
At the beginning of the Early Modern English period, levels of illiteracy were considerably high, especially among women. In cities, such as London, literacy was higher than in rural areas, and depended upon the profession as well. Literacy is traditional the province of scribes and administrators, hence the distinction between literate clergy and lay folk who were inexperienced with reading and writing (English).
The initiation of printing promoted the adoption of a standard written form and throughout the period, literacy increased due to new developments and the vast spread of reading and writing material, books and printed goods in general became more affordable, resulting in an enlarged readership. The increased demand was met by a rising number of books and prints as well as a new lobby for educational texts and books.