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cured from the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's a
lease of a little shop at the north-west door of the
church. This aroused the jealousy of rival trades-
men, who obtained from the Mayor and Aldermen
an injunction to prevent the design being carried out.
But the civic dignitaries had no right to interfere,
and a petition from the Archbishop to the Lord
Treasurer, it may be assumed, was effective ; but
the books in existence bearing the St. Paul's Church-
yard imprint are confined to the year 1578, and
limited to less than half-a-dozen works. William
Seres was Day's partner from 1546 to I5S> when

The Dawn of English Bookselling. 43

each acted independent of the other. Day died at
Walden, Essex, July 23, 1584.

William Middleton, whose shop was at the sign of
the George, next to St. Dunstan's Church, appears
to have succeeded Redman as a printer, after the
latter's wife married Ralph Cholmondley ; and
among his thirty or forty books, perhaps the most
notable is Heywood's ' Four P's ; a very merry
Enterlude of a Palmer, a Pardoner, a Poticary, and
a Pedlar,' a posthumous production, dated 1569.
Herbert points out that there appear to have been
three early (English) editions of Froissart's ' Chronicle,'
one by Pynson, another with Pynson's name but
pirated, and a third by Middleton. There is still
another link between Redman and the booksellers of
a later period ; for Henry Smyth, on the authority of
Ames, was his son-in-law, and issued books at the
sign of the Holy Trinity, the most notable being an
edition of Littleton's 'Tenures' (1545). Richard
Tottell was one of the best known and most popular
of the sixteenth century booksellers, and his opera-
tions extend over nearly the whole of the last half of
that period. His shop was at the sign of the Hand
and Star, within Temple Bar ; and, in addition to
the licence already referred to, it may be pointed out
that in 1557 he published Tusser's 'A Hundrethgood
Pointes of Husbandrie ;' in 1562, Grafton's 'Abridge-
ment of the Chronicles of England ;' and in 1579, in
conjunction with Henry Binneman, Stowe's 'Sum-
mary.' He was Master of the Stationers' Company in
1578, and a few years afterwards he ' retired into the
country, when his son carried on the business for him.'

44 The Earlier History of English Bookselling.

And so we might go on, ad infinitum, giving the
names, the signs, and quoting the titles of the books
issued by the old printer-publishers ; but the list
would only have a very circumscribed interest, which,
as in the other cases, almost solely depends upon the
particular works for whose mechanical production
they were responsible. ' The literature of Protestant
England passed, about the time of James I., from the
exuberant delicious fancifulness of youth into the
sober deliberativeness of manhood. The age of
romantic chivalry, of daring discovery, of surpassing
danger was passing away. A time of wonderful
thoughtfulness, of strong research, of national
quiet had come. Learning had become common
to most educated persons. The most recondite
subjects in theology and among the Schoolmen,
the highest problems in nature, the subtlest in-
quiries into the human spirit, the first principles
of human society, every theory of national govern-
ment daunted not, but fascinated thinkers. Selden
owned, "All Confess there never was a more Learned
Clergy, no Man taxes them with Ignorance ;" and the
writings of Bacon, Lord Herbert of Cherbury, Selden,
Hobbes, Prynne and others, represent the attainments
of many of the laity.' 1

But this healthy revival in literature coincided
with a curiously decisive retrograde movement in
bookselling. The earlier members of the fraternity
had been on the whole fairly honest and pretty well
educated, very much more so than the followers of

1 Arber : Introduction to Earle's ' Micro-cosmographie.'

The Dawn of English Bookselling. 45

any other trade. The great new birth of the Refor-
mation called an innumerable quantity of booksellers
into existence, and the ranks of the trade were aug-
mented by the riff-raff of nearly every walk of life,
who not only had no characters to lose, but gloried in
the fact. They starved the authors who had nothing
but their wits to live on, and dragged to the very lowest
depths of degradation the struggling movement of
authorship by profession. They thieved from all
quarters, and then flaunted their stolen wares in the
very faces of the proprietors, who, as we have already
shewn, had no means of retaliation other than those
of a personally aggressive nature, and these, perhaps
for obvious reasons, do not appear to have been often
put into requisition. The booksellers, therefore, had
it all their own way.

46 The Ear Her History of English Bookselling.




FEW men suffered so much from the vagaries of the
booksellers as Shakespeare, for they not only paid him
nothing for his ' copy ' which they stole, but edited
and improved him in a manner and with a degree of
effrontery which have no parallel in literary history.
Tradition throws a little light upon a few of these
methods, all of which, however, point to a clandestine
or surreptitious publication. Apart from the historical
importance of the subject, the publication of Shake-
speare's plays and poems may be taken as a sort of
index to the manner in which sundry other works
crept into a printed form of existence. All the lead-
ing authors were subjected to very similar treatment.
To commence with Shakespeare's first published
book, it may be pointed out that the plague of 1591-3
was not only instrumental in causing the London
theatres to be closed, but it afforded the great drama-
tist a little leisure, which he utilized in the composition
of 'Venus and Adonis.' This appeared in 1593, on
April 1 8, of which year it was duly enteredin the
Registers of the Stationers' Company by R. Field. It

Bookselling in the Time of Shakespeare. 47

was published probably by J. Harrison, of the White
Greyhound, St. Paul's Churchyard, who certainly
issued the editions dated 1594. 1596, and 1600. There
is a very interesting fact in connection with the print-
ing of this book. The printer, Richard Field, was a
fellow-townsman of Shakespeare's, and, granting the
assumption that he served his apprenticeship with
T.Vautrollier, it is satisfactory to know that he married
this man's daughter Jakin on January 13, 1588, and
that, when Vautrollier died in 1599, Field succeeded to
the business, occupied the same premises in Blackfriars, ^ ^ Yt
and adopted the same signs and marks of the Anchor.
That' one touch of nature' which, to use a quaint ex-
pression of Aubrey, ' this William ' described as making
* the whole world kin,' had a practical outcome here in
giving a fellow-townsman a ' turn,' and also again in
1594, when 'The Rape of Lucrece ' appeared. The
bookseller in this case, as in the former, was J.Harrison,
who, however, employed another printer P. Short
for the 1598 edition. There were two J. Harrisons,
father and son, who were rather extensive booksellers
in Shakespeare's time : the former commenced about
1 573, and appears to haveissued scarcelyanything after
1606, whilst the latter published books between 1611
and 1638. The elder (Mr. Fleay points out) resigned
his interest in the Shakespeare volumes, and appears
to have altered his place of business about 1599. W.
Leake whose operations extend from 1594 to far into
the first half of the seventeenth century, was publishingat
the Greyhound in St. Paul's Churchyard certain books
which Harrison had hitherto owned ; and after 1599,
the latter's imprints do not indicate his whereabouts

48 The Earlier History of English Bookselling.

in London. One of his books, Stowe's ' Summarie of
the Chronicles of England' (1604), a little i6moof over
500 pages, concludes with a list of errata laconically
designated ' faults escaped ' ! In 1602, when he issued
an edition of ' Venus and Adonis,' Leake had either
removed to another part of the Churchyard, or had
selected a new sign, which was that of the ' Holy
Ghost.' So far back as June 25, 1596, Leake had en-
tered this poem, and apparently retained all h,is rights
thereto until February 16, 1616, when W. Barret en-
tered it, and, in the following year, published an
edition. No fewer than eleven quarto editions of
'Venus and Adonis' appeared from 1593 to 1630. The
' Passionate Pilgrim,' 1599, bore Leake's imprint ; and
at various periods of his career he either published or
sold Beaumont and Fletcher's ' King and No King,' and
' Philaster/ Lilly's ' Euphues,' and, in 1637, Marlowe's
' Hero and Leander,' when his shop was in Chancery
Lane, ' neere the Roules.' R. Jackson, who issued ' Lu-
crece ' in 1616 the year of Shakespeare's death had
a shop in the Conduit, Fleet Street, and we meet with
his name between 1590 and 1625 in connection with the
works of Ariosto, Greene, Gervase Markham, and also
Old Testament Proverbs and biblical Abridgments.

It is rather an interesting fact that, with one unim-
portant exception, neither of the printers nor booksellers
who were concerned in the volumes of ' Venus and
Adonis ' and ( Lucrece ' had anything to do with the plays
of the same author. For some time Andrew Wise,
of the Angel, St. Paul's Churchyard, appears to have
monopolized the publication of the plays, but as they
increased in number, and as the demand grew, this

Bookselling in the Time of Shakespeare. 49

monopoly was soon broken through. During 1597
three plays were printed. The first was an imperfect
and pirated version of ' Romeo and Juliet' The other
two were ' Richard II.' and Richard III.,' and both
were printed by Valentine Simmes for Andrew Wise.
The titles are masterpieces of windy rhodomontade,
and the following is an example : ' The Tragedy of
King Richard III., containing, His treacherous Plots
against his brother Clarence ; the pittieful murther of
his innocent nephewes ; his tyrannicall vsurpation ; and
the whole course of his detested life, and most deserued
death/ Professor Dowden points out that of ' Richard
II.' four quartos had appeared before the end of 1615,
and of 'Richard III.' seven quartos had been issued
prior to 1630. This would allow a period of eighteen
months for each issue.

'Romeo and Juliet' was first published in quarto form
in 1597, 'as it hath been often (with great applause)
plaid publiquely by the right Honourable the L[ord]
of Hunsdon his servants.' In 1596 it was entered for
E. White ; but the first quarto was made up partly
from copies of portions of the original play, partly from
recollection and from notes taken during the perform-
ance. And although Burby's edition of 1599 claims
to be 'newly-corrected, augmented, and amended, 1
this was only approximately correct.

Following the three plays of 1597, there came, in
the next year, two more. These were, the first part
of Henry IV.' and, ' Loves Labour Lost.' The former
was issued by Andrew Wise, and a second edition,
dated 1599, claims to be 'newly corrected by W.
Shakes-peare/ The latter, or ' Loves Labour Lost,' bore


5O The Earlier History of English Bookselling.

the imprint of Cuthbert Burbie or Burby, whose shop
was then situated near the Exchange. This particular
edition of ' Loves Labour Lost ' is very noteworthy, for
it was the first play upon which Shakespeare's name
occurs. Whether Mr. Burby was overburdened with a
desire to give credit where it was due, or whether he
considered the chances of sale enhanced by giving the
author's name, we cannot undertake to say, but perhaps
there was a modicum of the two causes at work.
Burby, on the whole, was a fairly generous fellow, for
in 1608 he gave 2O/. to the poor of the Stationers'
Company. Books bearing his imprint are to be found
ranging between the years 1592 and 1607.

Wise published, also in 1 598, editions of Richard II.,
and ' Richard III.,' the former being printed by Valen-
tine Simmes, and the latter by T. Creede. In 1600
no fewer than six new plays of Shakespeare came out,
and, with two exceptions, bore the author's name. At
this period Wise appears to have taken William Aspley
into partnership in his business, either entirely, or only
so far as certain plays were concerned. They issued
conjointly the second part of ' Henry IV.' and ' Much
Ado About Nothing.' Professor Dowden points out
that the two parts of the former were written before
the entry of the first in the Stationers' Register,
February 25, 1597-8. The second play was entered
August 23, 1600, and a 'well-printed' edition ap-
peared, as already pointed out, in the same year. Two
rival editions of ' A Midsummer Night's Dream ' of
which the second was unquestionably pirated ap-
peared in 1600, the first by J. Roberts, and the second
by T. Fisher, whose shop was at the White Hart,

Bookselling in the Time of Shakespeare. 5 1

Fleet Street, and who issued a few books between 1 600
and 1602. That this ' strange and beautiful web
woven delicately by a youthful poet's fancy,' should
have been extremely popular and subjected to piracy,
is not to be wondered at. The 'Merchant of Venice,
which was entered in 1598, makes the fourth play bear-
ing the date 1600, and of this there were two rival
quartos, one of which was published by Laurence
Heyes, of the Green Dragon, St. Paul's Churchyard,
and the other by J. Roberts. The 1637 edition of
this play was published by Laurence ' Hayes.' ' Titus
Andronicus ' and ' Henry V.' complete the list of 1 600,
and these are the two exceptions on which Shake-
speare's name does not occur. ' Henry V.' was a sort
of red-rag to the booksellers, for at least three imper-
fect quartos appeared before the end of 1608. The
first was printed for ' Tho. Millington and John Busby.
And are to be sold at his [? their] house in Cauter
Lane, next the Powle head.' Both these men, with
E. White, T. Pavier, and H. Gosson, were the book-
sellers who industriously employed themselves in
foisting upon the public as the work of Shakespeare,
or in a garbled form, as the case may be, ' Pericles '
the' True Tragedy of the Duke of York/ and 'Titus

The ' Richard III.' of 1602 was probably the last
Shakesperian play which bore the imprint of Wise and
Aspley. From this time forward their rights, or
supposed rights, to the publishing of Shakespeare's
plays were transferred to Matthew Law, of the Fox,
St. Paul's Churchyard, near St. Augustine's Gate.
Editions of several plays were issued by him up to

E 2

5 2 The Earlier History of English Bookselling

1615, but none other than those which had been pre-
viously published by Wise or Wise and Aspley.
Law, however, remained in business until 1626 ;
one of his earliest publications was Nash's ' Christ's
Tears over Jerusalem,' 1594, which J. Roberts had
issued the year before.

An imperfect report of the ' Merry Wives of Windsor,
is dated 1602. The ( rights' of this play were trans-
ferred on January 18, 1601-2, from T. Busbie to
Arthur Johnson, who accordingly and in due course
published it ; but his name does not occur again in
connection with Shakespeare. The second, or 1619,
quarto, Mr. Quaritch points out as being valuable to
the scholar from the fact that it contains in a great
measure a different text to that which appears in the
folio of 1623. 1 June, 1602, J. Roberts entered ' The
Revenge of Hamlett, Prince of Denmark, as yt latelie
was acted by the Lord Chamberlain his servants,'
and it duly came forth in 1603, printed for N. Ling,
under St. Dunstan's Church, Fleet Street, and J.Trun-
dell. It was perhaps an imperfect report of the first
form of the play. In the year following, Roberts
printed and Ling published the second quarto of this
play, ' newly imprinted and enlarged to almost as much
againe as it was/ and this later form Professor Dow-
den conjectures to be due to Shakespeare's revision of
his own work. In both instances the author's name
is given. Ling was a rather prolific tradesman from
1582 to 1607, and he published works of such well-
known men as Hayward, Nash, Sutcliffe, and Whit-
taker. On January 22, 1606-7, he entered ' Romeo
and Juliet,' ' Loves Labour Lost,' and the ' Taming of

Bookselling in the Time oj Shakespeare. 53

the Shrew,' but he only produced the last-named. J.
Smethvvick, whose operations extend from 1600 to
1640, seems to have taken over Ling's business, and
also his shop in Fleet Street; at all events he en-
tered the three above-named plays (and also ' Hamlet '),
which were the property of Ling. His list of books
includes Burton's ' Censure of Simonie ' (1624), Dray-
ton's ' Poems,' Greene's ' Never too Late/ and also
certain works of Middleton and Nash, besides an
edition of ' Romeo and Juliet 5 in 1609, and one of
' Hamlet' in 1611.

To Nathaniel Butter, of the Pied Bull, St. Paul's
Churchyard, near St. Augustine's Gate, belongs the
honour of first issuing ' Lear.' It was probably pub-
lished surreptitiously, but it bore Shakespeare's
name. It was entered November 26, 1607, but it
had been acted nearly a year previously. Two
quartos came out in 1608, both by Butter, ' one in
44 leaves in which the publisher's address was not
given on the title, and the other, 41 leaves, in which
it was. The latter is usually considered the earlier
of the two, but it is equally probable that the former
was the first issued. The number of leaves would be
an argument for this supposition ; as reprints in
ancient days were usually more compressed than the
originals' (Quaritch). There are few names more
distinct than that of Butter in the bookselling annals
of the first forty years of the seventeenth century,
but it is as the founder of the English newspaper
press that he is best remembered. In addition to
issuing works of Casaubon, Coke, Davies, Decker,
Tarleton, and very many others, he broke fresh

5 4 The Earlier History of English Bookselling.

ground in August, 1622, when ' The Certain News
of the Present Week ' came forth It was a small
quarto of eighteen pages, and was edited by the
publisher, who, on June 7, 1622, made another
venture with * A Courant of News.' Butter's ex-
periments were very numerous.

From the fact that nearly all the quartos posterior
to 1600 are more or less surreptitious, it may be
inferred that some means were afterwards taken to
prevent publication, but unsuccessfully so up to and
including 1609. No new play appeared from this
date until the famous folio of 1623. In 1609, how-
ever, ' Pericles,' ' Troilus and Cressida ' and the
famous ' Sonnets ' were published. The first-named
was entered in 1608 by Edward Blunt or Blount,
and, as Professor Dowden points out, it came out
with a very ill-arranged text in the next year by
another bookseller, Henry Gosson, who had, it is
believed, surreptitiously obtained his copy. Al-
though only in part the work of Shakespeare, he is
credited with the entire performance ; five quartos
were issued before 1631, but the play was not in-
cluded in either of the first two folios nor in fact until
the third one, the rarest of all, dated 1664. ' Troilus
and Cressida' concludes the list of plays which
appeared during Shakespeare's lifetime. Its sponsors
were R. Bonian and H. Walley, ' at the Spred
Eagle in Paules Churchyeard, ouer against the great
North doore.' The very rare preface to this play is
most quaint and interesting, the writer prophesying
'And beleeue this, that when hee is gone, and his
Commedies out of sale, you will scramble for them,

Bookselling in the Time of Shakespeare. 55

and set up a new English Inquisition.' Bonian and
Walley, or Whalley, published several books in
conjunction with each other, notably Fletcher's
' Gentle Shepherdess,' but the examples of their
books only cover a span of four or five years, i.e.
from 1607 to 1611.

On May 20, 1609, ' a book called Shakespeare's
Sonnettes ' was entered in the Stationers' Register
by Thomas Thorpe, and an edition was issued in
the same year, printed by ' G. Eld for T. T. and to
be sold by William Aspley ' or Apsley. Some
copies of this edition were ' sold by John Wright,'
dwelling at Christ Churchgate,' a fact accounted for
by the practice of selling books in sheets, which gave
each bookseller the opportunity of printing his own
title-page, which was sometimes done in a very
erratic fashion. The book presumably ' fell flat,' at
all events a second edition was not printed until
1640. The publication was quite unauthorized, and
the book is only another example of bookseller's
vagary, particularly when Thomas Thorpe assumed
the privilege of dedicating the work ' to the onlie
begetter, W. H.' It would be foreign to our purpose
to discuss the personality of W. H. which is, in fact,
as fast a secret as the identity of Junius or the Man
in the Iron Mask. But Mr. Thorpe was by no
means a man of one dedication : he performed this
office for ' St. Augustine, of the citie of God, with
the learned comments of lo. Lod. Vives. Englished
by J. H.' (1610), and this time it bore a more definite
address, viz. ' to the honourablest patron of the muses
and good mindes,' the Earl of Pembroke. Another

5 6 The Earlier History of English Bookselling.

example worthy of record appeared with Marlow's
' First Book of Lucan ' (1600), upon which occasion
he addressed himself to Blount the Bookseller:
' Blunt, I purpose to be blunt with you, and, out of
my dulness, to encounter you with a dedication in
memory of that pure elemental wit, Chr. Marlowe,
whose ghost or genius is to be seen walk the church-
yard in, at least, three or four sheets,' and so forth.

The most interesting bibliopolic phases of Shake-
speare's career terminate with the year 1609, to be
revived again to a certain extent, but in a totally
different direction, in 1623, when the first folio
appeared. The circumstances in relation to this
publication have been so often retailed, that they
are almost quite familiar to every one. For the sake
of continuity we will just indicate the leading points.
This, the first collected edition, was ' set forth,' or,
in other words, edited, by his ' friends ' and ' fellows,'
John Heminge and Henry Condell, and it was pub-
lished by the two leading booksellers, Isaac Jaggard
and Edward Blount. It contains all the dramatic
works usually found in modern editions except
' Pericles.' The editors allude to the earlier quartos
as ' stolne and surreptitious,' and imply that their
edition is printed from Shakespeare's manuscript, of
which there is not a scrap in existence. But as a
matter of fact several of the plays were printed from
the quartos. The one great point of value attached
to this folio is that it contains eighteen plays of
which no quarto editions exist. The second foliOj
dated 1632, printed by Thos. Cotes for Robert Allot,
is a reprint of the first 'conjecturally emended, to

Bookselling in the Time of Shakespeare. 57

some extent, the emendations being more often
vrong than right' The third and rarest folio was
'printed for P. C.' in 1664, and contains seven plays
absent from the two preceding collections, but which,
with the exception of a portion of ' Pericles/ are not
by Shakespeare. The fourth is notable to us from
the fact that it is a sort of connecting link between
two ^reat men in English literary history. It came
out u 1685, under the auspices of Henry Herring-
man, \he publisher who issued a great number of
Dryderis works, and who assisted the poet in time
of need.


The literary history of nearly all the sixteenth and
seventeenth century authors, when it comes to deal
with the manner in which their works crept into print,
tells pretty much the same tale. No cause, in fact,
has resulted ia so much uncertainty and controversy
as the tricks of the booksellers, who can scarcely
be trusted even upon oath. Among many other
bad qualities popularly supposed to be inherent to the
bookseller is laziness. That trenchant satirist, Tom
Nash, delivers himself to the following effect in
' Pierce Penilesse ' (1592) : ' If I were to paint Sloth
.... by St. John the Evangelist, I swear thatt I
would draw it like a stationer that I know, with his
thumb under his girdle, who, if a man come to his
stall to ask him for a book, never stirs his head, or
looks upon him, but stands stone still, and speaks
not a word, only with his little finger points back-
ward to his boy, who must be his interpreter ; and

5 8 The Earlier History of English Bookselling,

so all the day, gaping like a dumb image, he sits
without motion, except at such times as he goes to

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