The Women of Grub Street: Press, Politics, and Gender in the London Literary Marketplace, 1678-1730

The Women of Grub Street: Press, Politics, and Gender in the London Literary Marketplace, 1678-1730

The Women of Grub Street: Press, Politics, and Gender in the London Literary Marketplace, 1678-1730

The Women of Grub Street: Press, Politics, and Gender in the London Literary Marketplace, 1678-1730

Synopsis

The period 1678-1730 was a decisive one not only in Western political history but also in the history of the British press. Changing conditions for political expression and an expanding book trade enabled unprecedented opportunities for political activity. The Women of Grub Street argues that women already at work in the London book trade were among the first to seize those new opportunities for public political expression. Synthesizing areas of scholarly inquiry previously regarded as separate, and offering a new model for the study of the literary marketplace, The Women of Grub Street examines not only women writers, but also printers, booksellers, ballad-singers, hawkers, and other producers and distributors of printed texts. Original both in its sources and in the claims it makes for the nature, extent, and complexities of women's participation in print culture and public politics, it provides a wealth of new information about middling and lower-class women's political and literary lives, and shows that these women were not merely the passive distributors of other people's political ideas. The central argument of the book is that women of the widest possible variety of socioeconomic backgrounds and religio-political allegiances in fact played so prominent a role in the production and transmission of political ideas through print as to belie simultaneous powerful claims that women had no place in public life. R The first full-length study to suggest the degree of involvement of women in the entire process of print creation at this important moment, The Women of Grub Street supports a number of important revisionary arguments with a broad range of literary and archival evidence. It will be of interest to readers of literature, social and publishing history, women's studies and feminism, and the history of democracy and public discourse.

Excerpt

'I have been in the element of Printing above forty years, and I have a great love for it, and am a well-wisher to all that lawfully move therein, and especially to you that are masters.' So wrote printerauthor Elinor James in her broadside Mrs. James's Advice to All Printers in General (c. 1715), a broadside signed not once but three times with her own name. Elinor James saw herself as a printer with 'above forty years' experience, but this is not how book trade scholars have seen her. Rather, if Elinor James's half-century presence in the London book trade is noted at all, she is referred to as the widow of printer Thomas James -- sometimes as many as twenty-one years before Thomas James was dead. Despite Elinor James's public participation in the trade, despite the knowledge of printing-house practices and tools she displays in the above broadside, despite the fact that Thomas James left her, and not his welltrained sons (or daughters), his printing house and equipment, Elinor James is assumed to have had a five-year rather than a fiftyyear career as a printer (if she is assumed to have had a career as a printer at all). That is, it is assumed that if Elinor James did assist in the family printing business, it was as her husband's 'helpmeet'. in turn, Thomas James is assumed to have reported dutifully to his printing house every day for the length of his own fifty-year career -- the practical as well as theoretical and legal 'head' of his family business.

The seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century London book trade consisted of a series of small family-owned and operated businesses passed down through families by intermarriage. and the dynamics of family life and economics, we are increasingly coming to see, are seldom this simple or predictable. in the eyes of the Stationers' Company -- the livery company to which Thomas James was apprenticed, and of which he became a freeman in 1662 . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.