Notes from Women’s Labour and the History of the Book in Early Modern England

p. 31 “Lalande’s depiction of rag-pickers – female, itinerant and consigned to the background – encapsulates the identity, activity and cultural status of rag-collectors in Europe in the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the 18th century. .. In Nuremberg, where the first paper-mill north of the Alps was established in 1390, one early twentieth-century commentator notes more explicitly that “collecting rags frm early days [was] the perogative of women”. .. the low end of the textile trades, a broad range of already low-prestige tasks related to the manufacture, upkeep and reuse of cloth and clothing, which often fell to women.”

p. 35 In 1588, John Spilman, jeweller to Queen Elizabeth, established a successful paper-mill in Dartford, Kent, having acquired a monoloply on rag-collection and the production of paper. A letter of complaint about Spilman dated 21 May 1601, written by the Lord Mayor William Rider and the Aldermen to the Privy Council…[Spliman “began to offer wrong to the charter of the city by authorizing great numberts of poor people, especially girls and vagrant women, to collect rags etc within the city and liberties, who under the pretence of that service, ranged abroad in every street, begging at men’s doors, whereby the discipline of the city was weakened”

p. 39 Rag-pickers feature in two short anonymous plays printed after the closure of the theatres in 1642, The New Brawl (1654) and The Gossips’ Brawl (1655) embed these rag-women in a wider labour force of marginalised women. The Gossips’ Brawl portrays .. the rag-raker Jone Ruggles, the fishwife Doll Crabbe, the tub-woman Megg Lant-Ale and the hostess Bess Bungole – as vulgar, drunk and quarrelsome.”

p. 50 Arguably the most influential account of widow stationers was put forward by Edward Arber in 1894. In the introduction to his fifth and final volume of his monumental Transcript of the Stationers’ Registers, Aerber attempts to “trace the career of a London stationer from his boyhood to his death”… Aerber suggested that an apprentice could marry the daughter of the master printer for whom he worked .. if that did not work out, the young stationer could opt to ‘marry a Printers’ widow”… repeated in the most important studies of women stationers, including those by Pearl Hogrefe, who surmuses that “even the ugliest and most vile-tempered woman in London could have found an ambitious man ready to take her – and her print shop”. .. but the fundamental problem with the story is that very few stationers – and no apprentices – became master printers by marrying a widow. .. overwhelmingly did so by purchasing a printing house and its equipment or by inheriting them”

p. 52 “Remarriage enabled widow printers to remain active in the book trade and to continue to be involved in running a printing house… widow printers who remarried other stationers are thus almost always among the women who printed and published editions themselves”.

p. 57 The most prolific widow publisher from 1540 to 1640 was Anne Griffin, who brought out a total of 68 editions from 1622 to 1649… p 59 “instrumental in the formation of a loose network of widows who printed and published together from 1634 to 1638… widow printers were hiring widow booksellers… while widow booksellers were hiring widow publishers to produce the editions the booksellers had decided to bring out. This network was composed of the printers Mary Dawson, Anne Griffin and Elizabeth Purslowe (but not Elizabeth Allde) and the booksellers Anne Boler, Anne Moore, John Newbery, |Joyce Norton, Anne Vincent and Joan Man (but not Mary Allett). All together, they collaborated in the publication of 26 editions from 1634-1638, 18 of which involved Griffin.”

p. 146 Isabella Whitney “It has been suggested that most of her work was influenced by the prevailing modes and content of 1560s and 1570s poetry; as I will demonstrate, they were perhaps more immediately inspired by a number of titles that were readily available through Jones. In short, Jones’s bookshop appears to have been a familiar haven for Whitney, one that afforded he a library of London’s newest print offerings.”

p. 148 “she may have also had some relationship with John Allde, William Howe and/or Thomas Colwell. In the 1560s, these four bookmen, either singly or cooperatively, brought out a significant number of ballads; indeed Jones and Colwell were particularly preoccupied with financing and distributing verse broadsides as part of a general publishing strategy.. a significant portion of their output… had to do with the occupations of women and/or relationships between men and women, and a significant subset of these appear to address a female audience from the perspective of a woman. All of these ballads have literally been read out of existence, but the Stationers’ Register records a large number of titles that could have been written by Whitney between 1563 and 1571.”

p. 154 ‘Will and Testament’ was yet another product of time spent in Jones’s bookshop; Whitney appears to have composed the oem after erusing The Will of the Devil. The anonymous pamphley appears to have been first brought to press by the printer Humphrey Powell in the late 1540s and its short length, virulent anti-Catholicism and satiric tone were fashioned for England’s first generation of middling Anglican-Protestant book buyters. The bulk of it is dedicated to the ‘Testament and lasy Wyll” of Belseebub”, which consistens of the demi-devil distributing the rituals, articles and suns of his followers back to his followers. These devotees consist of Catholic clergymen, reprobates like usurers and knaves, and a large host of tradesmen, professionals and townswomen. Jones acquired the satiric pamplet in the mid-1560s. Repinted in the late 1560s and in an expanded edition in the early 1580s, it proved to be one of his most popular early offerings and was undoubtedly part of the ‘ware’ that Whitney advertises in her ‘Will and Testament’.”

M. O’Callaghan, 2019, mt Printer must ue somwhat to his share’ Isabella Whitney, Richard Jones and Crafting Books,’ Women’s Writing 26 (1), pp. 15-34.

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