Books and Their Makers during the Middle Ages: A Study of the Conditions of the Production and Distribution of Literature from the Fall of the Roman Empire to the Close of the Seventeenth Century - Vol. 2

By George Haven Putnam | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV.
THE BEGINNINGS OF LITERARY PROPERTY IN ENGLAND. 1474-1709.

IN the preceding studies of the varying relations to the Government and to the community of literary productions and of the gradual development under the extension of the system of local privileges of the policy of protecting and encouraging literary production, but little reference has been made to the publishing methods and the conditions of literary production in England. It was in fact the case that during the first two centuries after printing, the conditions in England had very little influence upon the development of any European system for controlling or protecting literary production. The work of the earlier English printers was, as we have seen, addressed much more to the tastes of the local public than to the requirements of the scholars of Europe, and while a certain proportion of books were, in England as on the Continent, printed in Latin, this proportion was much smaller than with the undertakings of the contemporary publishers of Holland, Germany, and France.

While increasingly large importations were made from year to year, more particularly from Paris, Amsterdam, Basel, and Cologne, of books needed for use in Oxford, Cambridge, and London, the export during these two centuries for Continental sale, of books printed in England, was but inconsiderable. In the matter of legisla-

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