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Early Modern Herbals and the Book Trade

English Stationers and the Commodification of Botany

Author(s): Sarah Neville

ISBN: 9781316515990
Publication Date: 6/1/2022
Pages: 290
Format: Hardback
Regular price £75.00 GBP
Regular price Sale price £75.00 GBP

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Between 1525 and 1640, a remarkable phenomenon occurred in the world of print: England saw the production of more than two dozen editions identified by their imprints or by contemporaries as 'herbals'. Sarah Neville explains how this genre grew from a series of tiny anonymous octavos to authoritative folio tomes with thousands of woodcuts, and how these curious works quickly became valuable commodities within a competitive print marketplace. Designed to serve readers across the social spectrum, these rich material artifacts represented both a profitable investment for publishers and an opportunity for authors to establish their credibility as botanists. Highlighting the shifting contingencies and regulations surrounding herbals and English printing during the sixteenth and early seventeenth century, the book argues that the construction of scientific authority in Renaissance England was inextricably tied up with the circumstances governing print. This title is also available as Open Access on Cambridge Core.

  • Offers a valuable resource for students and scholars of book history, explaining how stationer behavior accounted for the emergence of early printed material through a detailed history of the patent system prior to and following the incorporation of the Stationers' Company in 1557
  • Invites interdisciplinary engagement with book history, explaining early modern print culture to historians of science and helping book historians situate works of premodern science in the fluctuating circumstances that defined the first eight decades of English printing
  • Shows that authorship itself generated commercial effects, extending Foucault's theory of the 'author-function' to offer a theoretical rationale capable of accommodating material texts alongside verbal and linguistic works and thereby making textual theory and bibliography legible to historians in other fields
  • This book is also available as Open Access