Elizabethan Publishing and the Makings of Literary Culture
Published: March 2018© 2018
312 Pages, 6.25 x 9.25 x 1.00 in
Elizabethan Publishing and the Makings of Literary Culture explores the influence of the book trade over English literary culture in the decades following incorporation of the Stationers’ Company in 1557. Through an analysis of the often overlooked contributions of bookmen like Thomas Hacket, Richard Smith, and Paul Linley, Kirk Melnikoff tracks the crucial role that bookselling publishers played in transmitting literary texts into print as well as energizing and shaping a new sphere of vernacular literary activity.
The volume provides an overview of the full range of practises that publishers performed, including the acquisition of copy and titles, compiling, alteration to texts, reissuing, and specialization. Four case studies together consider links between translation and the travel narrative; bookselling and authorship; re-issuing and the Ovidian narrative poem; and specialization and professional drama. Works considered include Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Thévet’s The New Found World, Constable’s Diana, and Marlowe’s Dido, Queen of Carthage. This exciting new book provides both a complement and a counter to recent studies that have turned back to authors and out to buyers and printing houses as makers of vernacular literary culture in the second half of the sixteenth century.
- Geldings, "prettie inuentions," and "plaine knauery": Elizabethan Book-Trade Publishing Practices
- Thomas Hacket, Translation, and the Wonders of the New World Travel Narrative
- Richard Smith’s Browsibles: A Hundreth Sundry Flowers (1573), The Fabulous Tales of Aesop (1577), and Diana (1592, 1594?)
- Flasket and Linley’s The Tragedy of Dido Queen of Carthage (1594): Reissuing the Elizabethan Epyllion
- Reading Hamlet (1603): Nicholas Ling, Sententiae, and Republicanism
"This book is rife with references to practices and people not often discussed, but Melnikoff’s integration of terminology, Elizabethan classics, and applied techniques leaves an open door for both publishing professionals and newly interested readers to engage with the peculiarities of sixteenth century publishing."Marina Garcia, Portland State University, Publishing Research Quarterly, vol 35
"In Elizabethan Publishing and the Makings of Literary Culture, Kirk Melnikoff provides a rich and compelling study of the kinds of agencies enjoyed by late Elizabethan publishers as they provided a crucial shaping influence on the construction of a vernacular literary tradition. … Melnikoff shows how publishers were both entrepreneurial businessmen and women, and also surprisingly literary, even writerly with acumen to their authors’ work, establishing ideas of genre, and shaping the literary field."Adam Smyth, Professor of English Literature and the History of the Book, Balliol College, Oxford University
"[Melnikoff’s] sensitive analysis shines new light on key texts by Spenser, Shakespeare, Marlowe, and many others. Melnikoff traverses the broad range of genres ‒ from travel writing to sonnets, from the epyllion to tragedy ‒ that defined the Elizabethan literary scene. This is an impressive work of scholarship that will interest all students of Renaissance literature."Zachary Lesser, Department of English, University of Pennsylvania
"Elizabethan Publishing and the Making of Literary Culture …[demonstrates] how so much of the literary culture we have inherited was constructed and shaped in the first instance by the emerging figure of the bookseller-publisher. Melnikoff’s impeccably researched, engaging study is essential reading for all scholars and students of early modern print culture."Andrew Murphy, School of English, University of St Andrews
"Kirk Melnikoff has written a remarkable study of the ambitions and activities of the sixteenth-century English book trade. At once learned and lively, Elizabethan Publishing and the Makings of Literary Culture astutely explores the social networks and professional practices of London’s stationers and their role in the formation of the rich literary achievement of early modern England."David Scott Kastan, Department of English, Yale University