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The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain
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    CLARK, J. C. D. 2012. SECULARIZATION AND MODERNIZATION: THE FAILURE OF A ‘GRAND NARRATIVE’. The Historical Journal, Vol. 55, Issue. 01, p. 161.

    2008. A History of Seventeenth-Century English Literature. p. 429.

    Weedon, Alexis 2008. A Companion to the History of the Book. p. 33.

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Volume 4 of The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain covers the years between the incorporation of the Stationers' Company in 1557 and the lapsing of the Licensing Act in 1695. In a period marked by deep religious divisions, civil war and the uneasy settlement of the Restoration, printed texts - important as they were for disseminating religious and political ideas, both heterodox and state approved - interacted with oral and manuscript cultures. These years saw a growth in reading publics, from the developing mass market in almanacs, ABCs, chapbooks, ballads and news, to works of instruction and leisure. Atlases, maps and travel literature overlapped with the popular market but were also part of the project of empire. Alongside the creation of a literary canon and the establishment of literary publishing there was a tradition of dissenting publishing, while women's writing and reading became increasingly visible.


'The bibliography is extensive and detailed, and the index comprehensive and thorough. … here we have, naturally in book form, a major scholarly survey of just about every aspect of the book, commercial, physical and intellectual.'

Source: Reference Reviews

‘… this fourth volume of the The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain will be a constant source of information and a stimulus to further thought: like its predecessor, it is a splendid achievement.'

Source: The Times Literary Supplement

‘… the editors deserve congratulation for persuading so many eminent scholars to write to their strengths in such a pleasantly readable manner.'

Source: The Times Literary Supplement

'… the volume's range of scholarship is impressive. A rich group of illustrations … add to the reader's understanding of the texts themselves … must immediately become required reading for any student of early modern religion … All the contributors, as well as Cambridge University Press, must be congratulated on this splendidly comprehensive volume … it is a pleasure to read as well as an invaluable reference work.'

Source: Journal of Ecclesiastical History

'However, what this volume should do is encourage book historians out of their period and subject specialisms. It should also stimulate a broader acknowledgment of the importance of the book and the book trade.'

Source: Journal of the Printing Historical Society

'… our … most heartfelt thanks go to Cambridge University Press for a 'Cambridge History' fully worthy of its distinguished predecessors.'

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Page 1 of 3

  • 1 - Religious publishing in England 1557–1640
    pp 29-66
  • View abstract
    Religious books, in conventional terms, are found to have been the single most important component of the publishing trade. In England, apart from oral communication, there was a mass of both polemical and devotional material which, if published, was published scribally, surviving only in manuscript. Some of the most active preachers of the age never appeared in print, or never in their lifetimes. A large part of the story of indoctrination concerns English Bibles, and there is no better case study of the interaction of public and private interest, commerce and edification, than the English Bible. Many of the Catholic books of the devotional writers included prefaces addressed to the impartial Christian reader, and not just to the Catholics. The use of a commonplace book was typical of university-trained readers, but Nicholas Byfield's Directions for the private reading of the Scriptures, first published in 1617 or 1618, was an attempt to make the practice more widespread among lay Bible readers.
  • 2 - Religious publishing in England 1640–1695
    pp 67-94
  • View abstract
    In publishing, as in Church and State, the 1640s and 1650s witnessed massive changes, this chapter focuses on some of the more striking changes: in broad terms and then through a specific example-the uses to which the Quakers put print in the early stages of the development of that movement. It explains some of the continuities between the edifying and instructive works published in the half century before 1640 and those published in the half century after 1640, and especially after 1660, are discussed. The religious publications of the later Stuart period were also produced in a context that embodied on the one hand the revival of patterns found before the 1640s and on the other continuity with elements of the publishing history of the 1640s and 1650s. The chapter concentrates on two aspects of those publications: patterns of production, and patterns of consumption, though it seems clear that the former were in many ways strongly shaped by the latter.
  • 3 - Oral and scribal texts in early modern England
    pp 97-121
  • View abstract
    In early modern England, the experience of the oral text was rarely free from some sense of its involvement with the other media. From time to time, scribal transcriptions of printed materials are encountered, which may even record the publication details of the exemplar or attempt a facsimile of the title page. Much of the poetry of the period was composed as scripts for recitation rather than for silent reading. Intermediate between the oral and the printed text lies the domain of the handwritten text. This chapter indicates that in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, a new composition might be circulated in any one of oral, written or printed form, or in any two or all three of these. The most characteristic forms of the manuscript book: the personal miscellany, the scribal anthology and the collection of materials, were a uniting of smaller units. Even within the medium of script there were varying decorums and varying levels of freedom.
  • 4 - John Donne and the circulation of manuscripts
    pp 122-126
  • View abstract
    John Donne is the most striking instance of a major Tudor-Stuart poet who flourished in the context of a manuscript culture. Donne's own attitude to their circulation was one of considerable ambivalence, and sometimes outright concern. The situation as regards Donne's prose works is slightly more complicated in that Donne had specific reasons for publishing in print, before his ordination, two substantial anti-Catholic polemics-his very longest work, Pseudo-martyr and Conclave Ignati or Ignatius his conclave. The survival of so many contemporary or near-contemporary manuscript texts of Donne's poems offers scholars special opportunities for the study of manuscript literary culture in this period. At the same time, it provides complex textual problems for modern editors who would seek to establish authentic texts where, without Donne's original autograph manuscripts to help them, none would seem to exist, and where the very history of manuscript transmission would seem to militate against the notion of authority.
  • 5 - Music books
    pp 127-138
    • By Mary Chan, University of New South Wales
  • View abstract
    The patent granted to William Byrd and Thomas Tallis in 1575 to print both music books, except Psalm books, and ruled music paper draws attention to the close relationship between printed and manuscript production of music books. When printed and manuscript books for the period are considered together it becomes clear that their history is intertwined and that, for both categories, contents, layout and method of production were determined by the social contexts of their composition and their audience. Music writing with any speed and accuracy was a skill which took practice to acquire. The work of the London clergyman, Thomas Myriell, dating from the early seventeenth century, contains examples of presentation and working manuscripts. Music in Scotland, as also in smaller centres throughout Britain, was largely dependent on London for the supply of printed music books. By the end of the seventeenth century London was still the centre of music publishing.
  • 6 - The Latin trade
    pp 141-173
  • View abstract
    The Latin trade was a specialized trade, governed by national and trade regulations, with its own specialized personnel. This chapter discusses the details of the later regulation of the trade, and of such censorship as existed. On the evidence it is not possible to concur, at least as regards the last twenty years of the sixteenth century, with Graham Pollard's dictum, quoted at the beginning of the chapter, that the Latin trade was in the hands of aliens who were Brothers of the Stationers' Company. The period of the Civil Wars, Commonwealth and early Restoration is one of the most poorly documented in the history of the Latin trade. But the most important practitioners of the Latin trade were, by 1695, Samuel Buckley and Samuel Smith.
  • 7 - Patronage and the printing of learned works for the author
    pp 174-188
  • View abstract
    Patronage was a significant condition of publication in Elizabethan and early Stuart times. The interrelated families of the Earl of Leicester, Sir Philip Sidney and the Earl of Pembroke performed the functions of patronage most productively, patriotically intent as they were on fostering the growth of humane letters in England. By the end of the third decade, the patronage system was in decline, as one can judge by the case of Ben Jonson, who, even with his reputation as the most excellent poet of the age, found it increasingly difficult to make ends meet. During the Civil Wars and throughout the Commonwealth years, aristocratic patronage faded, and authors were obliged to make the best deals they could directly with the booksellers. Aristocratic patronage was renewed at the Restoration and remained an important factor in the business of bringing out a work of literature, supplemented by increasingly strong market forces that could be effectively directed by an astute bookseller.
  • 8 - University printing at Oxford and Cambridge
    pp 189-205
  • View abstract
    The founders of the new presses at Oxford and Cambridge in the 1580s were native Englishmen: Thomas Thomas and Joseph Barnes. The advent of Archbishop Laud at Oxford was therefore important in an institutional way. The Laudian press was to be funded from money received from students on entering the university, and on taking their degrees - the same fund that was to pay for building and maintaining the Schools quadrangle. The distinction between university and private enterprise had been defined in a material way when in 1619 the University of Oxford accepted the Greek type presented by Sir Henry Savile. Between 1655 and the 1690s, only two men were active printers in Cambridge: John Field and John Hayes. For the latter part of the seventeenth century, the name of John Fell, Dean of Christ Church, has become synonymous with learned printing at Oxford. The two university presses faced the challenges posed by the London printers.
  • 9 - Editing the past: classical and historical scholarship
    pp 206-227
  • View abstract
    The publication of the bull Regnans in excelsis in 1570 had many unexpected side effects, one of which was to inaugurate a native school or habit of scholarship. Scholars work was part of the Erasmian concept of bonae litterae, as much devoted to the spread of learning by translation, from Greek to Latin or Latin to the vernacular, such as grammars and manuals. One-and-a-half centuries later, one of the first English scholars Bishop White Kennett, observed that the reason that most of the old Historians were first printed beyond the seas was cheaper methods and quicker sale that made the Editors to gain abroad what they must have lost at home. Archbishop Parker's belief in the importance of Anglo-Saxon studies stretched from collecting the manuscripts that he left to Cambridge and Corpus Christi College to an informed interest in their printing with specially cut types. The last work of seventeenth-century British scholarship was the first of the new century.
  • 10 - Maps and Atlases
    pp 228-245
  • View abstract
    Mapmakers and publishers are found who were nominally Grocers, Merchant Taylors, Leathersellers, Drapers or Weavers. This was in part historical accident, but it was perhaps also that the Stationers had less to offer purveyors of maps. It is against this background that the first English atlas, the Christopher Saxton atlas of England and Wales of 1579, needs be set. Following Moxon's 'waggoner' a further attempt was made to break into maritime publishing by John Seller, originally a compass maker and from his premises on the river at Wapping a supplier of instruments, almanacs and navigational texts. John Seller's did however attempt to undertake a full-scale survey of the country under the working title Atlas Anglicanus. Maps and atlases were conceived as much a matter of art as of science, and the handsome folios of Saxton and Speed, often surviving with vibrant contemporary hand colour, are among the most breath-taking examples of the craftsmanship of the period.
  • 11 - The literature of travel
    pp 246-273
  • View abstract
    This (highly selective) survey of the various kinds of travel writing circulating in both manuscript and print between 1557 and 1695 begins with the development of mid-sixteenth-century domestic travel writing as an offshoot of the growing antiquarian fascination with the history (as opposed to the legends) of the British Isles. William Petty, the Physician General of the British troops in Ireland, completed the first scientific map survey ofIreland, called the 'Down survey' not for the use of travellers but primarily for the carving up of the land among Cromwell's supporters. Fetherstone reprinted much of Hakluyt's material, along with more recent Virginia and East India voyages, enabling Purchas to lend his support to the now well established English colonialist activities in the New World and India. When considering narratives of individual voyages, it is also important to note that several (sometimes conflicting) accounts of the same voyage might well be circulated, sometimes simultaneously, in both manuscript and print.
  • 12 - Science and the book
    pp 274-303
  • View abstract
    This chapter addresses the questions such as what this dramatic transformation owed to the contemporary culture of the book, and what, if any, consequences it held for that culture. How demanding was revealed in their different ways by four enterprises that exploited the world of print to the full: natural history, medicine, magic and the mathematical sciences. The title ofthe work was decided by his first plan, Newton conceding to it in order to protect Halley's investment; but its very existence was conditional on the second. In Halley's London, authorship even of what is arguably the greatest work in the history of science was compromised by the very measures deemed necessary to protect and legitimate it. A different approach was that of the third institution to show success: the Royal Society. Realizing the futility of attempting isolation, the Society engaged closely with the London book trade. Its fortunes are discussed later in this chapter.
  • 13 - Samuel Hartlib and the commonwealth of learning
    pp 304-322
  • View abstract
    Samuel Hartlib role was as an 'instrument' to render it public, and thereby of benefit to all. Technologia, the disposition of the arts and sciences in general, was the information science of the first half of the seventeenth century, the study of knowledge systems in the context of how we know what we know, and how we convey it to others. Hartlib described the technology thus: 'Hee aimes by it to gather All the Authors, their Notions or Axiomes and their whole discurses. It explains why Hartlib's London itineraries took him to the instrument makers of the city, the Deptford dockyards, the Rotherhithe 'glass-house', or the Kiiffler dye-works. Harold Love has already examined the nature and significance of scribal networks and scribal publication, describing Hartlib as one of the 'too few writers [who] published extensively in both media. It explained his interest in recipes for ink, new ways of blotting paper and new writing pens.
  • 14 - Ownership: private and public libraries
    pp 323-338
  • View abstract
    Of women as independent book-owners one have, as yet, little extensive evidence, notable exceptions being Frances Wolfreston and Elizabeth Puckering both, by coincidence, of the West Midlands. The libraries of John Donne and Ben Jonson, for example, have been recovered only by searching for surviving books bearing their marks of ownership. Buying here was in fits and starts, and donations, great or small, were erratic. Created and imbued with life in precise and defined circumstances, libraries may by the passage of time, or else by some change in their ownership or administration, wither away and die, or else develop shapes unimagined by their creators. In interleaved form it was taken up by libraries in Britain and overseas as the basis for describing their own collections. In all this Richard Bentley addressed needs and opportunities too oftenunheeded by subsequent generations. Had Evelyn considered the cathedral libraries, he could have found some encouragement.
  • 15 - Monastic collections and their dispersal
    pp 339-348
  • View abstract
    John Dee, magus and book collector, proposed the establishment of a Library Royal and commissioners who would go about the country retrieving ancient books. Dissolutions and removal of books from the monasteries did not begin with Henry VIII's Act of Supremacy. Although many books were destroyed, thousands did survive and began to surface in collections in the second half of the sixteenth century. Ushering in the golden age of collecting, 1560 - 1640, are three important documents: a letter from Bale to Matthew Parker, in response for a request for information 'concernyne bokes of antiquite, not printed'; a list of texts relating to Anglo-Saxon history prepared by John Joscelyn and a list of writers on medieval English history. Although the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century antiquaries were anxious to salvage manuscripts their concerns did not stretch to preservation. Ironically, it was the very destruction of the monasteries which led ultimately to the enshrinement of the libraries as cultural icons.
  • 16 - Literature, the playhouse and the public
    pp 351-375
  • View abstract
    In 1576 the actor James Burbage constructed the first purpose built public theatre in Europe, which was called simply 'The Theatre'. Over the next fifty years and more, what followed was the emergence of two histories, one of material objects and the marketplace, and the other of an eruption and opening in human consciousness manifested in and provoked by the drama that Shakespeare and his contemporaries wrote for the stage. In the late Elizabethan period, the arrival of the recognizably modern literary author, and the beginnings of the formation of the English literary canon, is seen. One of the major transformations of the upper crust of European society was more or less completed in England even before Queen Elizabeth was born. The literary canon was becoming accessible to the many rather than just the few, and the fecundity and riotousness of the public stage threatened to overturn fundamental rules of sexual decency, law and order, and artistic decorum.
  • 17 - Milton
    pp 376-387
  • View abstract
    Milton's earliest publications and performances appeared in contexts supported by a traditional, perhaps courtly, emphasis on interpersonal relations. Or perhaps Marshall wanted to capture the contrast between the present poet and the author Milton repeatedly evokes in the accompanying text by reminding the reader of his unripe years at the time of composition. Yet Milton was a less than censorious licenser: famously he was examined in 1652 for having approved for publication (in August 1650) a work known as the Racovian Catechism, a Socinian text which Parliament subsequently condemned as 'blasphemous, erroneous, and scandalous'. It is possible that they were an afterthought, or that Milton strategically added them, with the errata, after the text had been licensed and partly printed. It appeared with an engraved portrait by William Faithorne, subsequently widely reproduced. Milton's later works generally appeared with the plain attribution The Author John Milton or By John Milton, this offered only initials, though this does not amount to concealment.
  • 18 - The Restoration poetic and dramatic canon
    pp 388-409
  • View abstract
    During the Restoration period, the poetry and drama of 'the last age', as it was now called, was selectively reprinted, and the canon of English literature was refashioned, both through the reprinting of works and, negatively, through serious acts of oblivion. Two booksellers were particularly significant in shaping the canon of earlier poetry and drama during the Restoration period: Henry Herringman and Jacob Tonson. This chapter presents specific examples of how the canons of individual poets were shaped, and begins with Tonson's associate, Dryden. The trio of Shakespeare, Jonson and Fletcher was quickly established in Restoration criticism as representing the principal achievement of the pre-war drama. During the 1650s, one of the most innovative publishers of plays had been Humphrey Moseley, who had seen a market for editions of the drama at a time when the playswere no longer being staged. The chapter concludes with an instance that proves that all canon formation is to some degree politically inflected.

Page 1 of 3

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