In Praise of Scribes: Manuscripts and Their Makers in Seventeenth-Century England

Synopsis

In Praise of Scribes is a major contribution to the field of manuscript studies in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This profusely illustrated book argues for the significant role played by clerks and scriveners both in contemporary society and in the transmissional history of literary texts. Specific case studies are offered of a remarkably industrious contributor to the ferment of ideas leading to the Civil War (the so-called 'Feathery Scribe'), as well as of the notorious 'Captain' Robert Julian in the Restoration period. Other case studies exemplify the wide-ranging empirical use which is to be made of material texts, and shed new light on works by Sir Philip Sidney, John Donne, and Katherine Philips, writers who flourished in a manuscript culture. The book explores questions about the nature of that culture vis ¿ vis print culture, about constructions of authorship, and about the complex nature of texts themselves in an evolving society and changing readership.