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London and the book trade: Isabella Whitney, Jane Anger, and the 'Maydens of London'

O'Callaghan, M. ORCID: (2022) London and the book trade: Isabella Whitney, Jane Anger, and the 'Maydens of London'. In: Scott-Baumann, E., Clarke, D. and Ross, S. C. E. (eds.) The Oxford handbook of early modern women's writing in English, 1540-1700. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 291-303. ISBN 9780198860631

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Printed books were an urban phenomenon. Isabella Whitney famously sends her readers to St. Paul’s Churchyard to buy books from her printer, Richard Jones, locating her works at the very heart of the London book trade. Whitney’s writings illustrate how modes of publishing, types of readers, author functions, literary forms and tastes were shaped by the city and its rich traditions of vernacular literature. This essay will read Whitney’s The Copy of a Letter (c. 1567) and A Sweet Nosegay (c. 1573) alongside ballads, such as John Lydgate’s ‘London Lickpenny’, A Letter Sent by the Maydens of London, to the Virtuous Matrones & Mistresses (1567), and another pamphlet published by Jones, Jane Anger Her Protection for Women (1589) to ask whether we can identify a shared literary idiom that is identifiably urban and speaks to a non-elite readership. A Letter Sent by the Maydens of London is assigned to non-elite working women and claims to speak in their interests. Anger’s pamphlet is similarly published under a non-elite woman’s signature and responds to books that have come into her hands from the London book stalls. In doing so, this pamphlet imagines a wider cityscape in which the woman question is being hotly debated. We can therefore ask the question whether the literary forms favoured by Whitney and Anger, the complaint, admonition, and querelle des femme, take a distinctive orientation in response to an urban environment. The essay will concentrate on non-elite women’s writing in order to discover how place might inform the fashioning of voices and literary forms that are characteristically urban.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Early Modern Research Centre (EMRC)
Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > English Literature
Interdisciplinary Research Centres (IDRCs) > Centre for Book Cultures and Publishing (CBCP)
ID Code:109383
Publisher:Oxford University Press

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