This essay examines the genre of the manuscript newsletter, a key element of the news media in Britain from the early seventeenth through the mid-eighteenth centuries. It argues that newsletters were more popular and had more in common with printed newspapers—in terms of content, clientele, and circulation—than has commonly been assumed in the recent surge of scholarly interest in newspaper history and periodical studies. Drawing on a unique set of hybrid manuscript–print news documents, the essay contends that the emergence of the news media was not primarily a print phenomenon for at least the first century of the periodical press and that postal networks provided the basis for seventeenth- and eighteenth-century newsgathering and transmission. During this period, print did not replace manuscript sources but rather relied upon them to provide timely and reliable news.


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pp. 411-437
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