Category Archives: Early Modern

Stuarts Online and animated

A web resource for schools, Stuarts Online, featuring materials from the Bodleian and Ashmolean has launched a video narrated by David Mitchell.

The Stuarts in Seven Minutes has been produced as part of the Stuarts Online initiative. Produced by academics at the universities of Cambridge, Exeter, Nottingham and Oxford, Stuarts Online includes twenty short films – each centred on a key text or artefact – which explore the stories, conflicts and personalities central to the history of Stuart Britain. It also provides lesson plansbiographies, timelines, and other learning resources. The films are enriched by privileged access to the holdings of the Ashmolean Museum and the Bodleian Library, of the University of Oxford. Their development was supported by further partnerships with the Historical Association and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

David Mitchell recording 'Stuarts in Seven Minutes' for the Historyworks production

David Mitchell recording ‘Stuarts in Seven Minutes’ for the Historyworks production

An animated navy from 'Stuarts in Seven Minutes'

An animated navy from ‘Stuarts in Seven Minutes’

The Cadiz pirates

Portrait of Elizabeth I (1533–1603)  by Wilhelm Sonmans

Elizabeth I (1533–1603)
by Wilhelm Sonmans
(c) Bodleian Libraries; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Dr Anders Ingram (National University of Ireland, Hakluyt Edition Project) used copies of the second edition of Hakluyt’s Principle Navigations (1598-1600) to explore the nature of censorship in Elizabethan England. At issue was the passage describing the Cadiz Expedition of 1596, led by the Earl of Essex and Lord Howard, during which English and Dutch troops sacked the Spanish city.

But the failure to capture the Spanish treasure fleet, and the conduct of the leaders, including the distribution of the booty, led to royal suppression of Essex’s own account of his actions. Two years later, Hakluyt included in his Navigations a “brief description” written by the doctor who travelled on the Ark Royal. The pages containing this episode were later excised from many copies of the work, and a new title page was produced omitting mention of the Cadiz expedition. Examining the physical evidence in three copies of Hakluyt’s Navigations from Bodleian collections, Dr Ingram showed that these represented different variants, and called into question the reason for the removal of these leaves: was this censorship, or action by the publishers in advance of the appearance of Hakluyt’s second volume, printed in 1599, which had found a sponsor in Robert Cecil, one of the examiners of the costs of the expedition during the controversy?

The copies examined contained: (1) The edition intact with the Cadiz episode as originally printed and a title page dated 1598; (2) The Cadiz leaves intact, but with a new title page dated 1599; (3) The leaves containing the description of the Cadiz episode replaced with a later (c. 1720) reprint, in different type and differently set.

Tyrrell and Locke on Patriarcha non monarcha: Masterclass with Felix Waldmann, 26 Nov. 2012

In an exciting conclusion to the autumn season of masterclasses, Felix Waldmann (Cambridge) spoke on ‘James Tyrrell, John Locke, and the text of Patriarcha non Monarcha (1681): the evidence from some Bodleian copies’.
Examining three Bodleian copies, Dr Waldmann found that the pattern of annotations, corrections, and manuscript additions in these copies, from the libraries of Thomas Barlow (the subject of an earlier masterclass) and John Locke himself, contributed significant evidence touching on theories of the composition of the text, which have variously described the publication as a collaboration between Locke and Tyrrell or Tyrrell’s original work which inspired Locke’s Two Treatises of Government.
This was the second in the series of Early Printed Books masterclasses convened by William Poole (New College).

Rainy weather …

This publication from 1758 should resolve our questions about the continuing rain.
The new book of knowledge. Shewing the effects of the planets and other astronomical constellations; with the strange events that befall men, women and children, born under them. Together with the husbandman’s practice: Or, prognostication for ever. With the shepherd’s perpetual prognostication for the weather. … London: Printed for A. Wilde, in Aldersgate-Street: sold also by the book-sellers in town and country. MDCCLVIII

The new book of knowledge, (London, A. Wilde, 1758), Bodleian Library Vet. A5 f.4135 [detail]

Purchase of historical medical books

from Francesca Galligan, Rare Books, Dept. of Special Collections

The Birmingham Medical Institute, established in 1875, offered a first part of its historical medical books at auction in April. The Bodleian purchased six lots, of fifteen editions, adding important new texts and editions to our extensive medical collections. Many of the books were chosen for their focus on women, and include a group on midwifery.


Fielding Ould, A Treatise of midwifry (1748; Vet. A4 e.3676)
This is the rare first London edition of a book striking in its concern for the wellbeing of and respect for the mother, and in its focus on observations from nature and on natural delivery. It includes a glossary: “To make this treatise of more general use, (especially to women who live in the country remote from the assistance of skilful persons) the editors have here subjoined an explanation of the tems of art”. Most of the words in the glossary are of a technical nature, though some are very general: ‘adult’, ‘pregnant’, ‘spine’, ‘intestines’. Ould discusses the work of several others in this field, including Henry Deventer, whose The art of midwifery improv’d was purchased in its 4thedition (1746, Vet. A4 e.3676).

Fig. 1

Deventer’s book contains a series of illustrations of the foetus in utero [Fig. 1].

Illustrations were, for some, a point of concern. Edmund Chapman notes in the preface to his Treatise on the improvement of Midwifery, purchased in its 2nd and 3rd editions (1735 and 1759, Vet. A4 e.3678, Vet. A5 e.7466), that plates of the body would only “serve to raise and encourage impure thoughts” (p. xx). He states “my design, on the contrary, was to compose such a treatise as one of either sex might read without a blush”, and the only illustrations present are forceps and another extraction tool called the fillet. [Figs 2 and 3.] The author recommends the book specifically to midwives, though he hopes that surgeons will also find it useful.

Fig. 2

Women’s health – general

Jean Astruc, Treatise on the diseases of women (1762, in two volumes, together with the rarer third volume, 1767), Vet. A5 e.7469 and Vet. A5 e.7470
An English translation of this important French work that includes an extensive “Chronological catalogue of the physicians, who have written treatises, particularly on the diseases of women…”, divided into four periods. In his preface, Astruc likens his task to that of Vergil, picking over the poetry of Ennius: “I acknowledge it is not without being surfeited with them, that I have gone over so great a number of such collections: and I question whether Virgil was ever so much so in reading the verses of Ennius. But we had both the same design: for I endeavoured, like him, to extract something useful from this heap of things, that contained so little of what was good; and this supported my patience” (p. iv).

Fig. 3

Also purchased were:

William Rowley, A treatise on female, nervous, hysterical, hypochondriacal, bilious, convulsive diseases; apoplexy and palsy; with thoughts on madness, suicide, &c. in which the principal disorders are explained from anatomical facts, and the treatment formed on several new principles(1788), Vet. A5 e.7468  [Fig. 4].

Fig. 4

John Friend, Emmenologia (1752), Vet. A5 e.3
An edition in English, with a typographical error corrected in manuscript [Fig. 5].

Fig. 5

Charles Perry’s rare A mechanical account and explication of the hysteric passion (1755), Vet. A5 e.74711st and 3rd editions of Pierre Pomme’s Traité des affections vaporeuses des deux sexes(Lyon, 1763 and 1767), Vet. E5 f.549 and Vet. E5 e.1221

General medical

William Salmon’s Parateremata: or Select physical and chyrurgical observations: containing divers remarkable histories of cures, done by several famous physicians (1687); Vet. A3 e.2219
One of three editions of this year, all rare, and all thus far absent from the Bodleian. [Figs 6 and 7]

Fig. 6

Fig. 7

Domenico Panaroli, Discorso delle stufe da bagni di Roma, e suoi nocumenti. (Rome, 1646); Vet. F3 e.66
A treatise on the perils of Rome’s modern public baths, known in only a few copies. [Fig. 8]

Robert Bunon, Essay sur les maladies des dents, (Paris, 1743); Vet. E4 e.92
One of the first books devoted to children’s teeth.

An Edinburgh edition of Anton Störck’s An essay on the medicinal nature of hemlock (1762).
Vet. A5 e.7465

Fig. 8

2012 Seminar on the History of the Book: Professor Raphaële Mouren, “The humanist editor as author”

from Martha Repp

The fifth in the 2012 series of the Oxford Seminars on the History of the Book was held at All Souls College, Oxford, on 17 February, 2012. Professor Raphaële Mouren of the École nationale supérieure des sciences de l’information et des bibliothèques (ENSSIB) in the University of Lyon spoke on “The humanist editor as author”. Her paper provided a fascinating insight not only into concepts of authorship in the sixteenth century, but into how scholarly editions of classical texts were prepared during this period.
For the purposes of Professor Mouren’s paper, the term “humanist” was understood to mean a scholar who reads, studies, revises, corrects, and edits classical texts for the purpose of producing a “reference edition”, that is to say an edition that will be used for preference by scholars working on a particular text. The person responsible for producing such an edition can be referred to as a “reference editor”, although there were also examples of “reference printers”, where the same person would be responsible both for the intellectual work of preparing the text, and for the physical production of the edition itself. The best known examples of such reference printers are perhaps the Manutius family in Venice or the Estienne family active in Paris and Geneva.
So, can these humanist editors of classical texts be considered as authors in the same way as the creators of original texts in the vernacular? And where can we look to find evidence of their activity? The most obvious place to start is by looking at the information provided in the editions themselves, and particularly at title pages, dedicatory letters, colophons, and other paratextual material. It is important to bear in mind in this context that the inclusion or omission of particular information on the title page, and the way in which that information is presented, are the result of conscious or unconscious decisions. These decisions will generally have been made by the printer; the specific format of the title page was in the sixteenth century, and generally still is, one of the few aspects of an edition over which the author or editor has no control. If the printer controlled the title page, the editor had an equivalent control over the dedicatory letter, and many humanists used such letters as a means of asserting their editorship of the text, and of spelling out the editorial strategies adopted and the problems encountered. One might expect the title page to an edition of a classical author to provide the name of the original author, the name of the editor, and the name of the printer or publisher. When looking at sixteenth century editions of such texts, however, it is striking how frequently the information provided on the title page is incomplete, or does not match the reality of how the edition was actually prepared.
As the reasons for these omissions or inaccuracies tend to vary from edition to edition, the remainder of Professor Mouren’s paper was devoted to looking at specific examples. These examples were chiefly taken from the editions produced by Pietro Vettori, a university lecturer and prolific editor of classical texts active in Florence in the mid- to late-sixteenth century.
The first example chosen was the three editions of the pseudo-Demetrius Phalereus’s De elocutione, printed in Florence between 1542 and 1562, all edited by Vettori and printed by the Giunta family. The title page of the 1542 edition merely gives the name of Demetrius Phalereus, the title of the work, and the date of publication. A colophon adds that the work was printed in Florence, but not much more. This lack of information may possibly be explained by the fact that the edition is in fact simply a reproduction of an existing edition of the text, and it was not usual for editors to be credited unless they had done substantial work on the text. An additional explanation may lie in the circumstances in which the edition was produced; it was printed at the beginning of the university year, and it is therefore probable that this was a text that Vettori intended to use in his university teaching, and that the priority was to have the edition available to his students as quickly as possible. This 1542 edition may even have functioned as a starting point from which Vettori and his students would go on to correct and revise the text. The extent of the editorial work Vettori ended up doing on this particular text is perhaps indicated by the difference in wording of the title page to the 1562 edition, which is described as Vettori’s commentary on Demetrius Phalereus, despite the fact that the edition includes both the pseudo-Demetrius’s original text, and a Latin translation of it.
The next example considered was the edition of Cicero’s complete works published by the Giuntas in Venice in 1537. The edition consists of four volumes of Cicero’s works, the first volume edited by Andrea Navagero and the remaining three volumes edited by Vettori. The title page to volume one does indeed credit Navagero as editor, but the title pages to volumes 2-4 make no mention of Vettori. In fact, the only mention of Vettori’s input is as the author of an ancillary volume of “Emendationes”. This is probably explained by the fact that in 1537, Vettori was only at the beginning of his career, whereas Navagero was already an established name, and therefore Navagero’s name, unlike Vettori’s would have been seen by the publishers as adding scholarly weight to their edition.
Vettori’s editions of Clement of Alexandria, Porphyry and Sallust are interesting in that they do not mention Vettori’s name on the title page, but do specify the manuscript he used to prepare his edition, the text selected being described as “E Bibliotheca Medicea”. It was common practice to indicate that a famous or important manuscript had been used in the preparation of an edition, since this was seen by printers as a way of making their edition seem newer and better than any of the other existing editions.
A final example considered was the various editions of Cicero’s Epistolae familiares published by Paulus Manutius during the sixteenth century. When Paulus Manutius published his first edition of the Epistolae familiares in 1540, he did not mention his own involvement either as editor or as publisher on the title page. As a result of this, when Vettori began work on his own edition of Cicero, he had to ask his own publisher, Bernardo di Giunta, to find out who had been responsible for the 1540 edition of the Epistolae familiares. When told that it had been Paulus Manutius, Vettori couldn’t quite believe it, and referred to the edition rather dismissively. This then left Paulus Manutius with the problem of how to record his own involvement as editor and publisher on the title page, and in his subsequent editions of the Epistolae familiares, he experimented with a number of different ways of achieving this, most of which involved his name appearing on the title page in two different places. Eventually, however, he settled on the formula “Corrigente Paulo Manutio”, used as an imprint, but also acknowledging his editorial input.

2012 Seminar on the History of the Book ; Will Poole, ‘John Fell’s New Year Books’

from Martha Repp

The first in the seventeenth annual series of Oxford Seminars on the History of the Book, convened by Professor I.W.F. Maclean, was given at All Souls College, Oxford, on 20 January, 2012, by Dr. William Poole of New College, Oxford, on the subject of “John Fell’s New Year Books”.

Dr. John Fell, 1625-1686, was one of the dominant figures in the intellectual life of Oxford in the mid to late 17th century. He was elected Dean of Christ Church in 1660 at the age of 35, served as Vice-Chancellor of the University from 1666 to 1669, and, in 1676, became Bishop of Oxford, while still serving as Dean of Christ Church, continuing to hold both offices, as well as a number of other official and ecclesiastical positions, until his death in 1686. He was also an important figure in the development of printing in Oxford. He was one of the partners leasing the University press, and arranged for the use of the Sheldonian Theatre for printing purposes, as well as setting up a type foundry in Oxford and encouraging the Wolvercote paper mill.

Fell’s scholarly output includes sermons, biographical works, and numerous editions of classical and patristic texts, but Dr Poole’s paper focused on one particular aspect of this; the series of small format editions published in Oxford at Fell’s expense between 1666 and 1686, and known as the New Year Books because they were intended to be given by Fell as New Year gifts to his students.

The tradition of exchanging gifts at New Year was an old one, and it is not surprising that within academic communities these gifts should have come to take the form of texts. There is evidence of works having been printed in England as New Year gifts as early as the 16th century, most of which are attempts on the part of the author to attract the attention of wealthy and influential patrons rather than serious intellectual undertakings. In University settings, this exchange of gifts generally seems to have taken the form of students presenting their latest work to their tutors. Fell acknowledges this tradition in the 1669 edition of Clement of Rome, in which he states that part of his motivation for producing the series of New Year Books is that he frequently received New Year gifts of texts from his students, and that he felt it was, as he puts it, “turpissimum” for him to have nothing to give them in exchange. In addition to this practical motivation, Fell also seems to have had a general interest in producing a series of cheap editions of teaching texts for students long before he actually started the New Years Books. But he had to be careful not to upset the London Stationers, who monopolised the textbook market.

Fell’s New Year Books are generally small format (octavo or duodecimo) editions of texts by classical and patristic authors. They are distinguished by austerity and plainness, both in production and in editorial style, which demonstrates Fell’s preference for text over commentary and collation over exegesis. In most cases, the texts and versions presented were not new, and Fell seems to have done comparatively little work on them. It has been stated that the New Year Books are primarily patristic in nature, and this is certainly true after 1679 (possibly because at this point Fell was also working on his edition of Cyprian). Before 1679, however, there is generally a fairly equal balance between Christian and pagan authors. In general, the choice of authors and texts shows a preference for early Christian authors who warn of the dangers of schism, and who propound an episcopal, but definitely not papal, form of church government. Despite this inherent conservatism, it should not be assumed that the authors and texts chosen were always neutral, or that the texts were always read and received in a friendly manner; the choice of Nemesius as the New Year Book for 1671 appears, from the tone of the annotations in some surviving copies, notably Thomas Barlow’s, to have been particularly controversial.

Fell’s editorial practice appears to have depended heavily on collation; in most cases, the texts provided are collated from around four manuscripts. Although the manuscripts used are sometimes clearly identified, Fell tends to be less clear about which specific readings have been taken from which manuscript, making it hard to trace the collation process in any detail. It has been suggested that Fell used the New Year Books as an annual exercise for his students in preparing and editing a text, but the evidence for this is patchy. Fell does seem to have had some help in preparing these editions, certainly from Thomas Spark, who edited the 1679 edition of Zosimus and the 1678 edition of Herodian which may have been the New Year Book for that year and is certainly affiliated to the series, and probably from Edward Bernard, who Madan associates with the preparation of the 1666 edition of Pachymeres. Bernard also presented a copy of the 1686 edition of Origen to Friedrich Spanheim, and appears to have borrowed manuscripts from New College library on Fell’s behalf. However, Fell rarely if ever appears to have conceded overall editorial control to anyone else.

The final question considered was how these works were circulated, and to whom. Fortunately, as many of the books were acquired by Oxford college libraries, a large number of them have survived, in many cases in series which can be traced to particular academic owners. The majority of copies do appear to have been given as gifts, with several surviving copies having ex dono inscriptions recording the gift. These gifts were widely circulated within Christ Church, and less widely circulated outside, although this is more difficult to trace. Fell appears to have given copies to his academic peers and contemporaries, as well as to his students. Fell certainly had some copies bound for him by the Oxford binder Henry Ingram, but since these constitute relatively few copies, it is probable that he gave away unbound copies as well. Copies were passed on from one academic to another, and were certainly still being used as live academic texts in the eighteenth century. There is little evidence of the works having been circulated outside England. Although the nature of the works as gifts is always insisted on, and they are only rarely referred to in the Term Catalogues, there is also evidence of a commercial element to their production; they were produced in print runs of up to a thousand, more than could have realistically been given away, and there is also evidence of Fell having used copies of the books as capital within Oxford.

A stimulating final discussion considered many of the issues raised in the paper in more detail, such as whether there is evidence of the works having been given to a particular type of student, and whether the production of this kind of “teaching text” allowed for the publication of texts without the level of scholarly editorial work that would be required for a full-scale critical edition.

Sebastiaan Verweij: ‘The eye of any deliberate reader’: John Donne and the Early Printed Book

Using the collator

Using the collator to compare books.

Merton History of the Book Group and the Early Modern Literature Graduate Seminar
25 October 2011

from Edmund Christie White, Merton College

Speaking in the Breakfast Room of Merton College, Sebastiaan Verweij (Lincoln) described his work as a Research Associate for the Oxford Edition of the Sermons of John Donne.

A bibliographical specialist, Dr Verweij’s principal role in this project is in collating the many printed variants of Donne’s sermons, ranging from quartos published whilst the author was still alive, to posthumous collected editions. With no autograph manuscripts of these works known to remain, this vital work contributes to the efforts of the project’s editors to get as close as possible to the sermons as they were when delivered from the pulpit.

Donne himself had a somewhat mixed relationship with his printers. Dr Verweij highlighted the paratextual elements of some of these editions, such as errata pages, in which it appears that the author directly appealed to his readers to amend their copies in order to undo the printer’s mistakes.

After the talk, there was a chance to see at first hand some of the books in Merton’s collection that were examined by Dr Verweij. He also demonstrated how to use a ‘Hailey’s Comet’ optical collator. This device uses angled mirrors so that the user can simultaneously see two different versions of the same page in a book; by way of stereoscopic vision, any variations in the printing then seem to jump off the page in 3D.

A tale of two bibles: Rare Books masterclass

The origins and early history of the King James Bible are very much intertwined with that of the Puritan Geneva Bible (1560), on which it drew but which it also, eventually, displaced. At a masterclass on 20 May 2011, Helen Moore, fellow in English at Corpus Christi College and one of the curators of the exhibition, Manifold Greatness (at the Bodleian Library and Folger Library in 2011), showed two examples of the King James Bible from Bodleian collections; Bodleian Library Bib. Eng. 1613 e.1(2), an edition printed in London by Robert Barker (the printer of the first edition of this translation, two years earlier in 1611 — this 1613 black-letter quarto was a “He” bible repeating the error in Ruth 3:15 of one of the 1611 printings), and another edition printed in Amsterdam in 1672, Bodleian Library Bib. Eng. 1672 c.1(1).

Moore examined the paratextual elements which affected how the Bible was read, quoted, and taken as a spiritual guide by 17th-century readers. These include the illustrations drawing typological parallels between Old and New Testaments, annotations explaining the text, and concordances or tables helping readers to find reference in Scripture to particular topics.

KJB or Genevan?

King James I’s invitation to scholars to produce a new version of the bible was an attempt both to mollify Puritans in the Church of England who wished to promote greater knowledge of the Bible in English, and to replace the Geneva Bible, at that time the most popular English version. The Geneva Bible, conceived and produced by English Protestant exiles who had fled to Geneva to escape persecution during the reign of Mary I, reflected their theological and political ideas. James I’s instructions were that the new version should exclude commentary entirely. The “Rules to be Observed in Translation” drawn up for the translators of the KJB stated that “no marginall notes at all [were] to be affixed”. But examining the books themselves helped to prove Helen Moore’s point that bibliographical study questions this “anti-paternal” relationship of the Genevan bible to the KJB.

With the two editions from library collections to hand, Moore showed how looking at the contents of these books enabled a more detailed view of what contents circulated under the title page of the King James Bible. In both of these KJB editions, “Genevan” elements were evident; the woodcut title page of the first black-letter quarto edition, from 1613, was a close imitation of the title page of black-letter quarto editions of the Geneva Bible; extensive marginal annotations were printed in the 1672 Amsterdam edition, in defiance of James’s “no commentary” rule; the woodcut used as a title page vignette for the New Testament in the 1672 edition was copied from the Geneva Bible woodcut illustrations.

As a cultural phenomenon, elements of the “Genevan” Bible survived long after the advent of the version that was meant to replace it.

An exhibition catalogue, Manifold Greatness: the making of the King James Bible, edited by Helen Moore and Julian Reid, is published by the Bodleian Library.