In this Book


Women in 16th- and 17th-century Britain read, annotated, circulated, inventoried, cherished, criticized, prescribed, and proscribed books in various historically distinctive ways. Yet, unlike that of their male counterparts, the study of women’s reading practices and book ownership has been an elusive and largely overlooked field.

In thirteen probing essays, Women’s Bookscapesin Early Modern Britain brings together the work of internationally renowned scholars investigating key questions about early modern British women’s figurative, material, and cultural relationships with books. What constitutes evidence of women’s readerly engagement? How did women use books to achieve personal, political, religious, literary, economic, social, familial, or communal goals? How does new evidence of women’s libraries and book usage challenge received ideas about gender in relation to knowledge, education, confessional affiliations, family ties, and sociability? How do digital tools offer new possibilities for the recovery of information on early modern women readers?

The volume’s three-part structure highlights case studies of individual readers and their libraries; analyses of readers and readership in the context of their interpretive communities; and new types of scholarly evidence—lists of confiscated books and convent rules, for example—as well as new methodologies and technologies for ongoing research. These essays dismantle binaries of private and public; reading and writing; female and male literary engagement and production; and ownership and authorship.

Interdisciplinary, timely, cohesive, and concise, this collection’s fresh, revisionary approaches represent substantial contributions to scholarship in early modern material culture; book history and print culture; women’s literary and cultural history; library studies; and reading and collecting practices more generally.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Half Title, Title Page, Copyright
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. v-vi
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. vii-viii
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  1. The Bookscape
  2. Leah Knight, Micheline White
  3. pp. 1-18
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  1. Part One. (Book)case Studies
  1. 1. Katherine Parr’s Marginalia: Putting the Wisdom of Chrysostom and Solomon into Practice
  2. Micheline White
  3. pp. 21-42
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  1. 2. Isabella Whitney and Reading Humanism
  2. Mary Ellen Lamb
  3. pp. 43-58
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  1. 3. Book Passages and the Reconstruction of the Bradstreets’ New England Library
  2. Elizabeth Sauer
  3. pp. 59-76
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  1. 4. Elizabeth Isham’s “own Bookes”: Property, Propriety, and the Self as Library
  2. Edith Snook
  3. pp. 77-93
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  1. 5. Margaret Cavendish’s Books
  2. Julie Crawford
  3. pp. 94-114
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  1. Part Two Reading Communities
  1. 6. Women, Books, and the Lay Apostolate: A Catholic Literary Network in Late Sixteenth-Century England
  2. Elizabeth Patton
  3. pp. 117-134
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  1. 7. The Discovery of Pattern at Little Gidding
  2. Paul Dyck
  3. pp. 135-152
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  1. 8. Common Libraries: Book Circulation in English Benedictine Convents, 1600–1700
  2. Jaime Goodrich
  3. pp. 153-170
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  1. 9. English Reading Communities in Exile: Introducing Cloistered Nuns to Their Books
  2. Caroline Bowden
  3. pp. 171-190
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  1. Part Three Collecting Women’s Collections: Evidence, Methods, Projects
  1. 10. Hiding in Plain Sight: How Electronic Records Can Lead Us to Early Modern Women Readers
  2. Sarah Lindenbaum
  3. pp. 193-213
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  1. 11. Women’s Libraries in the Private Libraries in Renaissance England Project
  2. Joseph L. Black
  3. pp. 214-230
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  1. 12. Women’s Book Ownership and the Reception of Early Modern Women’s Texts, 1545–1700
  2. Marie-Louise Coolahan, Mark Empey
  3. pp. 231-252
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  1. 13. Reading Proof: Or, Problems and Possibilities in the Text Life of Anne Clifford
  2. Leah Knight
  3. pp. 253-273
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  1. Afterword: Mapping Early Modern Women’s Literary History
  2. Margaret J. M. Ezell
  3. pp. 274-278
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  1. Contributors
  2. pp. 279-282
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 283-304
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Additional Information

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