Stationers and Editors

The miscellanies are a key resource in the study of the early modern book. The early history of the printed verse miscellanies coincides with the consolidation of the printing trade. The first edition of Tottel’s was published in 1557, the same year that the Stationers’ Company was incorporated. While there is some debate over who edited Tottel’s Miscellany, many would argue that this role was taken by Richard Tottel, a successful printer and bookseller. There is therefore an appropriateness to the fact that this foundational miscellany is now familiarly known by the name of its printer.

The source text for Paradise of Dainty Devices is said to be a manuscript compiled by Richard Edwards, the Master of the Children of the Queen’s Chapel. Given that Edwards had died in 1566, ten years before the publication of Paradise, it is not clear how the publisher, Henry Disle (or Disley), came by this manuscript. Edward’s manuscript was not simply passively translated into the forms of print, rather there was some level of editorial intervention, probably on the part of Disle. His editorial hand in the compilation of the collection is suggested by the fact that a number of his poems appear in the anthology, and so provides us with an example of a publisher-poet, perhaps even a publisher-poet-editor. One of the compilers of A Gorgeous Gallery of Gallant Inventions (1578) was Thomas Proctor, who was also printer, as well as a poet. A friend of the writer Anthony Munday (who was apprenticed to the same printer, John Allde), Proctor wrote verses for Gorgeous Gallery,  Munday’s Mirrour of Mutability (1579), and T.F.’s (possibly Francis Thynne) Newes from the North (1585).

There is also, of course, the printer, bookseller, and editor, Richard Jones, now often known because of his association with Isabella Whitney. He was closely involved in the production of a number of the early miscellanies: he printed the early editions of Paradise of Dainty Devices (1576-78), Handful of Pleasant Delights, and Gorgeous Gallery of Gallant Inventions.Jones wrote prefatory material for the volumes he compiled, or published, and so the way that he frames the volumes, the type of metaphors and vocabulary he uses, provides valuable material for how the trade in literary texts and the print marketplace was taking shape, and how readerships and markets were conceptualised. This level of collaboration between printers, publishers, editors and poets that characterizes these books gives a very different view of verse miscellanies as ‘courtly’, elite form, and brings into play a more artisanal notion of  ‘craft’.

Further Reading

Kirk Melnikoff, ‘Jones’s Pen and Marlowe’s Socks: Richard Jones, Print Culture, and the Beginnings of English Dramatic Literature’, Studies in Philology, 102 (2005), 184-209.