This classic work, first published in 1952, covers in detail the history of books from Caxton down to the incorporation of the Stationers' Company, discussing the evidence for public literacy, the regulation of the book trade, the demand for books, the authors, translators, and printers of early books, and their methods. It is a history of society at the opening of the Art of Printing, without which civilization as we know it could hardly have taken shape at all - a chapter in the human story, unique in its significance and remarkably obscure before this book was first published. In the second volume of his classic English Books and Readers, first published in 1965, H. S. Bennett continues the story down to the end of the reign of Elizabeth I. His purpose is to give an account of the total output of books and pamphlets in this period, irrespective of their qualities as literature. He reveals a picture of astonishing variety and fertility.
The part of it which concerns the production of imaginative, philosophical and religious books is fairly well known; but by far the larger proportion of the output of the printing presses consisted of such diverse products as histories and geographies, moral treatises, translations from the Classics, legal and medical text-books, writings on sports and pastimes, seamanship, primers of instruction in languages and music, the great and famous corpus of travel books, volumes of ballads and verses, and cheap and sensational pamphlets on such topics as monstrous births, strange creatures, the evil practices of witches and the diabolical objectives of traitors. Besides showing how the printers, booksellers and their allies made this enormously diverse mass of material readily available to the Elizabethan reading public, the author examines as well the relations between writers and readers. The third volume of English Books and Readers, first published in 1970, carries the story of the English book trade down to the eve of the Civil War. The author gives an account of the total output of books and pamphlets in the period, irrespective of their qualities as literature.
'He has brought a clear head and an infinite capacity for taking pains to the sifting and orderly presentation of his evidence, which he has distilled into 238 closely reasoned pages ... It will be a standard reference-book; a lucidly arranged collection of passages illustrating literacy, the regulation of the book trade, and the aims and methods of authors, translators and printers.' The Times Literary Supplement 'Though much has been written on these subjects, by bibliographers and others, and though Mr Bennett is generous in acknowledging the work of others, his is a peculiarly original and friutful achievement because of the questions he asks and the special knowledge he contributes ... The many long and splendid quotations not only testify to an enviable range of reading, but also positively advance understanding of the problems discussed. In a field where scholarly competence and worthy labours are common enough, this book, itself the product of scholarship and hard work, stands out because it is also the product of a civilized mind.' G. R. Elton, The Listener 'These three volumes represent the result of much more than the mere study of title-pages and imprints, since it is patently obvious that [the author] has read, analysed, and classified a dauntingly high proportion of the books themselves. As he points out, the annual output grew in this period from approximately 259 volumes published in 1600 to 577 in 1640. From his work we learn much about the actual contents; the different sorts of readers and what was provided for them; the relationships of writers, authorities, and members of the book trade. All this could only have been provided from a thorough knowledge sorts of readers and what was provided from a thorough knowledge of the actual books. This is its great value ... This distillation of the author's thorough acquaintance with so many books makes an excellent introduction for those embarking on detailed work in this period. From it, the student will gain not only knowledge of how the book trade functioned, but what kinds of books were written, why, and for whom, besides something of what was in them. But those with longer experience are also practically certain to meet facts and examples previously unknown to them.' Modern Language Review 'This is the third volume of a series in which a distinguished scholar has given the history of the printed book trade in Britain from its beginning in 1475 to the eve of the Civil War. The other volumes were justly acclaimed, and the highest praise must also be given to the book which now concludes the work. The title is modest indeed, since it is a survey of Britain cultural, intellectual and social interests over more than 150 years ... Although written with remarkable clarity, the book is so densely packed with information that justice could only be done to it in a very long notice. The reading, sorting, sifting and evaluating that must have gone into its production were clearly of a magnitude that must be rare in the extreme for such a relatively small volume ... This is a splendid achievement, and homage is gladly paid to the STC which made it possible and to the scholar who has so triumphantly achieved a great task.' Notes and Queries
Volume I: Prologue; 1. Caxton and his literary heritage; 2. Literacy; 3. The regulation of the book trade; 4. Patronage; 5. The demand for books; 6. The variety of books; 7. Translations and translators; 8. The printers; 9. The printing of the book; Appendix I; Appendix II; Bibliography; General index; Index of passages. Volume II: Preface; Introduction; 1. The inception of a book; 2. patronage; 3. The regulation of the book trade; 4. Translations and translators; 5. The variety of books; 6. Printers and booksellers; Bibliography; Index. Volume III: Preface; Introduction; 1. The inception of a book; 2. Patronage; 3. The regulation of the book trade; 4. Piracy; 5. Translation and translators; 6. Literacy; 7. The variety of books; 8. Printers, booksellers and readers; Select bibliography; Index.
Number Of Pages: 960
Published: 9th April 1990
Publisher: CAMBRIDGE UNIV PR
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 22.1 x 14.22
Weight (kg): 1.25