The early Quaker movement was remarkable for its prolific use of the printing press. Carefully orchestrated by a handful of men and women who were the movement's leaders, printed tracts were an integral feature of the rapid spread of Quaker ideas in the 1650s. Drawing on very rich documentary evidence, this book examines how and why Quakers were able to make such effective use of print. As a crucial element in an extensive proselytising campaign, printed tracts enabled the emergence of the Quaker movement as a uniform, national phenomenon. The book explores the impressive organization underpinning Quaker pamphleteering and argues that the early movement should not be dismissed as a disillusioned spiritual remnant of the English Revolution, but was rather a purposeful campaign which sought, and achieved, effective dialogue with both the body politic and society at large.
• Based on unusually rich documentation which enables a detailed and unique case study of how people used and read books in early modern England • Provides a new and different interpretation of the role of women in the early Quaker movement • Modifies existing understanding of the early Quaker movement, arguing that the movement was a purposeful political campaign
Introduction; 1. Writing and authority in the early Quaker movement; 2. The production and readership of Quaker pamphlets; 3. A national movement: pamphleteering in East Anglia; 4. 'The Quakers Quaking': the printed identity of the movement; 5. 'Women's speaking justified': women and pamphleteering; 6. Pamphleteering and religious debate; 7. Print and political participation; 8. The James Nayler crisis, 1656; Bibliography of secondary sources.
Review of the hardback: '… unlike many another textbook, this one is not impenetrable to the lay reader … this book is readable, informative, and interesting - no small achievement - and does much to correct the persistent idea that Quakers were essentially marginal to the political life of the 1650s.' Rare Books Newsletter
Review of the hardback: 'Print Culture and the Early Quakers is more than an expression and amplification of the earlier arguments. … [Peters] aptly surveys such key genres as prison narratives, controversy literature (specificall, inter-faith dispute), and the political pamphlet or petition.' Quaker Studies
Review of the hardback: 'Peter's work offers a very considerable contribution to our understanding of the birth of the Quaker movement, as well as an important addition to the growing series of studies clarifying the role of the press in England's revolutionary tumults.' Journal of Ecclesiastical History