This is a revisionist history of press censorship in the rapidly expanding print culture of the sixteenth century. Professor Clegg establishes the nature and source of the controls, and evaluates their means and effectiveness. The state wanted to control the burgeoning press, but there were difficulties in practice because of the competing and often contradictory interests of the Crown, the Church, and the printing trade. By considering the literary and bibliographical evidence of books actually censored and by placing them in the literary, religious, economic and political culture of the time, Clegg concludes that press control was not a routine nor a consistent mechanism but an individual response to particular texts that the state perceived as dangerous. This will be the standard reference work on Elizabethan press censorship, and is also a history of the Elizabethan state's principal crises.
'With considerbale patience and care, Clegg succeeds in exploding a few tenacious myths about Elizabethan press censorship. The case studies are well researched and convincingly argued ... This study makes a valuable contribution to the burgeoning History of the Book.' Media History 'Her careful and comprehensive scholarship lucidly presents an interpretation of Elizabethan press censorship that destroys the underlying assumptions of many recent 'new historicist' and 'cultural materialist' literary and cultural studies of the period ... this book will become essential reading for anyone wishing to understand early modern print culture, whether from a literary or an historical perspective.' Journal of Ecclesiastical History '... a deeply thoughtful and well-researched study which utilizes both textual and documentary evidence to unravel the complexities of censorship in early modern England - many of them for the first time - and which will provide essential reading for both literary scholars and historians alike'. The English Historical Review