Reflective writing – what we have learnt about the printing process in the past few weeks?


  • The international influence of printing houses upon Shakespeare’s printing process( Korea, Belgium, London) and the level of artisan skill which was involved. This influenced how we perceive books and early modern printing as scholars today.
  • The process itself of printing, the evolution of such process during the 16th century, and how this influences the texts within them. For example, the order pages were printed on was not chronological (as I had originally presumed) and therefore explains some of the gaps in Early Modern texts, adding an interesting mode of production element to the study of Shakespeare’s plays. We also learnt that the “folio is the most expensive type of book because materials were more expensive than human production of printing”. 
  • We learnt about the commercial capital attached to print culture and printing shops for example, in St. Pauls, which allowed us to contextualise the First Folio and Shakespeare’s play scripts as products/artefacts as well as literary items.


  • How to use online archive websites such as the ESTC, ODNB and the EEBO to search for information regarding the various editions of books. The ODNB was useful for finding out further biographical details of the author. The information that I received from the ESTC informed my interpretation of the works contributors and contemporaries. For example, The Discoverie of Witchcraft by Reginal Scot provided scarce detail on those who contributed to publishing the work. Using the various websites it allowed me to find out more about the history behind the printing of The Discoverie of Witchcraft which was left out of the title page. Thus, I was able to find out other information surrounding the publisher Henry Denham and his contribution to other types of similar work.
  • As well as this, looking at a physical copy of the text which has been passed through various owners we applied our study of annotations as paratexts. We scrutinised the annotations and noticed patterns in locations of notes that were placed in margins next to Bible references, suggesting a previous owner with Christian interests.


The concept of authorship was radically different in the early modern period to our idea of it now. We learnt in week 4 that play scripts, let alone their authors, were not held in the same regard they are today. Published scripts were often sold without the author’s knowledge or permission. A playwright’s original script was less important to printers and publishers than the version of it closest to the one they and their readers would remember from stage performances. Without the publishing of scripts playwrights like Shakespeare and Marlowe would have almost no control of their plays. They would be performed year on year by companies that would adapt the stories to their performances, making the plays almost akin to stories told by word of mouth. In some ways this is understandable as plays would often be collaborative projects. Even if one author had written the original text, editors, civil servants in charge of censoring scripts would have a hand in altering them. Actors might improvise in their performances. Additionally publishers might add paratextual materials, make notes in the margins or even make corrections to the texts. Through these aspects of the theatre industry the authors relation to the finished product of a published script is less direct than it might be today.


The various materials on printing that we have looked at over the last 2 weeks, will be very useful in relation to other aspects that we have observed over the rest of the module. We have better understood the printing process and the intricate thinking that went into these publications, in order to appeal to their targeted audience within the period, such as the order in which the plays were published in his ‘Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies’ introduction page. Keeping their targeted audience stimulated and entertained was obviously the priority of publishers, in a similar way that it was a priority for the Shakespearean company; the large variety of different plays on offer and the actors ability to play a variety of different roles parallels the importance of these respective intricacies. The various online archival websites that we have been given access to will also greater inform our understanding in the wider context of other materials we have observed. Furthermore, though not specifically related to the literal printing process, we have observed the fact that though writers such as Ben Jonson may have been rivals to Shakespeare, even they were able to appreciate his undeniable ability as a playwright: his respective praises include, “Thou art a monument without a tomb” and the “Sweet Swan of Avon”. 

By Sarah Thompson, Olivia Varty, Ally Cloke, Guy Seddon

The production of early modern books & Their paratexts

Soso Ayika, Sophie Hamilton, Abi Dickson, Ellie Simmonite, Raveena Mehta, Leanne Francis

The first printing press in England was set up in 1476 by William Caxton. Its arrival enabled English printers to publish the early works of writers in quarto and folio form.

There were various stages involved in the publication of an early modern text. At the time, publishing industries consisted of printers, compositors, stationers, and publishers, each contributing to different stages of the printing process.

Printers manufactured the physical book, compositors worked the press, stationers bound and covered the pages, and publishers paid stationers license fees and provided printers with paper.

During the 1550s, some printers rose to popularity for their impressive craftsmanship and skillfulness. Christopher Moretus, a Frenchman who worked as a printer-publisher in Antwerp, was well known for his printing. At the height of his career, Plantin printed around 50 texts a year on at least 16 different presses. His work was symbolised by a golden compass around which the words ‘labore et constantia’ were written, meaning ‘work and persistency’.

Producing an early modern text required different tools.

Letters would be cut using files and chisels, with unreachable parts being removed by a negative punch. The punch creates the matrix in which the type was cast, then placed on a tray, inked and pressed onto paper.”

The printed pages were proof-read for mistakes made in production, such as incorrect grammar, punctuation or spelling, and would then be corrected.

Once this process was complete, the text would be ready for print.

Close Reading of Paratext:

The Discoverie of Witchcraft title page is useful as it tells us the original owner of the book (Cuthbert Cockson) and tells us who the book was dedicated to. Throughout the text we see various examples of what looks like people practicing their handwriting, which suggests a lack of access to paper. We also see notes handwritten at the side of some of the pages whereby one of the owners of the book can make comments about it and express their opinions. 

Helen Smith noted that scholars of the early modern period have questioned the historical authority of the author, arguing that “textual production was a substantially more collaborative process than is assumed by post-Romantic notions of the solitary genius” [Smith, P.8]. So essentially, paratexts are inevitable and will entail some sort of collaborative process be it from the printer, binder or reader themself.

behind the scenes of books

If you wanted to make a book today you would only really need to open your laptop, type it out, then print it. In theory its simple. If we go back a good few hundred years, we see a very different process. The printing of ‘books’ in the 15th century is obviously a more laborious task than it is today. This is not just due to the founding of electricity and the creation of the printer but also some of the specifications that some of these texts would need. 

Having a play printed would mean people at the time could now read plays at home instead of having to go into the depths of London and past the Baiting pits, brothels and gambling dens. This did not mean in any way that plays getting performed would be stopped but now the writers could have their name to a play that might be in the reading room of the high classes. 

This brings us onto how these plays were printed. Print shops would receive a commission from the stationers and then they would have the text onto the sheets using the large wooden printing press. The text would be laid out with individual metal letters, backwards nonetheless, and then coated with ink before being pressed onto the paper. The paper would come in the form of the large folio pages: being the most expensive to print due to them being the largest pages they would have been on one side of the paper and not be cramped onto it, and then you would get down to the cheaper quarto pieces that are folded down into four to make a ‘booklet’. These Quartos could be bound together with thread or even have a cover made for you by the stationers to protect it even more (for an extra cost of course) This was already a  well-established system, from as early as Chaucer’s period where we saw manuscripts being formed in this way. 

Yet what is now different to these old manuscripts is that we now have the addition of Paratexts! Paratexts are some of the most important features of old printed texts. Paratexts are pieces written around the play, adverts, letters written by other authors praising the text, notes in the margins and mages to name a few. Today Paratexts are still relevant, (Helen coopers most excellent example of ‘Paratext-ception’ in the introduction to her article sums this up) but not as well written and detailed as those included in the books from the 15th century. One example being Benjamin Johnsons collected works. This book that was first printed in 1616 had many dedications to the author. There were multiple from Francis Beaumont praising Johnson, readers would see these ‘fluff’ pieces before the main piece and would perhaps give them a more certain idea of the work that they were about to read.

Looking closer at some of the Paratexts, specifically the very vivid and striking image that awaits on the opening page of Johnsons collected works (As pictured). This image that consumes the first page of the works is full of references to the plays within. The characters with Latin inscriptions around them signify that the works will have classical allusions to them and maybe also a signifier to the court for the ‘Masques’ that are included within the works as well. Even more interestingly the two characters at the top have the words Tragedy and Comedy underneath them showing what type of plays are in these works. As he was most notable for those two genres. 

For a product that we now take for granted it is certainly interesting to get an understanding of how much effort went into printing these texts back then.

Group: Louis Linsey, Amy Sandbach, Helena Eades, Helena Hussey, Ruairidh Watt

[Image; from collected works of Benjamin Johnson]

From broom to book: the social life of scot’s “on the discoverie of witches”

By Sarah Thompson & Olivia Varty

Image result for witches 16th century

The Social life history of Scot’s “On the Discoverie of Witches”  is complicated, to say the least. What began its life as one man’s reasoning and skepticism of the legitimacy of the witch problem, can in 2019 be read as a rare book, both in print and ideology. Also,it is an example of proto-feminism, as Scot argues it is mainly women, especially poor women, who are accused, as they do not hold power in society.

The book was scathed by King James VI of Scotland (who was obsessed with finding witches, even writing his own famous book Daemonolgie and having Macbeth tailored to his odd hobby), meaning it was not reprinted and circulated so much in the late-Stuart era. However, the copy we viewed at the Philip Robinson Special Collections still remains, and as we viewed, heavily annotated in both Latin and English. There are frequent references to religion, both throughout Scot’s original text and within these mysterious, inked scribblings. We discussed in Dr. De Rycker’s lecture, the significance of marginalia and annotations as Renaissance paratexts, how they reveal to us what Early Modern readers were thinking when they first read the book, and which parts were of importance to them. The illustrations of Scot’s book seem crude to a modern reader, but physically in this copy are some of the most fragile, suggesting they have endured wear-and-tear from eager scholars fascinated by the “tricks” and theatrical mechanisms used by supposed “witches”.

The 1584 printing of The Discoverie of Witchcraft is particularly fascinating as the information surrounding the paratext of the work is excluded from this printed version. Instead, we are provided with the provenance of the copy, which it is shown to have been placed under the ownership of the historian Robert White. It was not until 1942 that the copy was donated to King’s College the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne by Amy Potts. Although the identities of the printers are absent from the copy, we used the ESTC and the ODNB to uncover more information regarding the work’s imprinting. The copy was published by Henry Denham in 1984 for William Brome in London. This information is crucial for establishing the authenticity of The Discoverie of Witchcraft, as the printers have control over the final text. It is important to note that Henry Denham was responsible for the publishing of various religious texts from 1563-1587.

The production of books in early modern england

Vastly different from the process of producing books today, books in the early modern period were printed in a sheet-by-sheet process that were then folded, bound together, covered, and thus completed. The folding of these sheets was synonymous to the price of the book; a folio for example being considerably more expensive that an octavo. This was due to price of paper as a commodity in this era, and therefore, a folio version of a text, where each sheet was folded once, required much more paper than an octavo, where each sheet was folded eight times.

We can see the number of sheets used in a book made in the early modern period as they generally feature at the bottom of the page an ‘a’, ‘b’, ‘c’ etc. or a similar way of marking that enables those who bound the sheets together to understand what order they go in. Much like the writing of plays, it appears that the printing process itself too was very collabarative.

Designed by Johannas Gutenberg but brought to England by William Caxton in 1476, printing presses were used to print the text onto the sheets. This process originally involved the use of woodblock where letters were lined up and placed on a wooden board called a ‘galley’. This galley is then bound with chord to stabalise the individual matrix / letters in place and placed on a wooden frame upon a strone press. The text / letter cut-outs are then inked and moistened paper is laid over the structure. This is then rolled under the carriage and the printed page is removed.

Another comparison with early modern book production and today’s is the authority that the publishers had over the construction of a book, rather than the author. Firstly, the printers manufactured and created the physical sheets / pages of the book. These sheets were then bound by the stationers and covered according to the customers wishes. The publishers, however had the most authority over the book’s production, and were responsible for paying the author, the stationers’ licensing fees and providing the printers with paper. However, they did not just control the money aspect of a book’s creation, but held authority over what could be included or discluded from the content of the title pages, including dedications, commissioned dedicatory verses to the author or even the author’s name.

The Fairie Queene and The Shepeardes Calendar, together with the other works of England’s arch-poet, Edm. Spenser 1611. 

  • This collection, an updated version from the original publication of Edmund Spenser’s The Fairie Queene 1590&1596 and his other works, was interesting to look at and compare to the previous publication of it as there was distinctive differences in the two published texts. The collection published later, was published as a Folio as opposed to the first publication which was a Quarto. 
  • Furthermore, the paratext in the collection of works was far more elaborate, not just because of the extra text added to the dedications, but also the printed text was far neater, and the print more elaborate. 
  • According to ESTC this particular edition was the first of these as it was printed as a collection, with only one other edition of it having been published.  

The Countesse of Pembroke’s Arcadia, Philip Sidney. 1633. 

  • ESTC indicates that this particular edition is a second edition of the text, whilst the title page revealed that this was the 8th time of the author being published, with the edition having ‘never before printed sonnets’ from the Sidney.   
  • Furthermore, this edition also featured a supplementary passage by Sir W.A Knight, which when consulting ESTC could be identified Sir William Alexander, the Earl of Stirling. In addition to this, the second edition also features a dedication from the author to his sister and a letter to the reader signed by a H.S.; Hugh Stanford on behalf of the countess. 
  • Fundamentally, when examining the additional material in later versions of printed texts, we can usually observe an increase in paratextual material that in turn can alter the meaning and reception of the texts as a literary entity. 

Sophia, Elli, Kelly, Becky, Luke

Archivist’s Log, 2382 – Six Court Comedies

Archivist’s Log – 16th March 2382

I’d heard the stories. We all had. But I never thought I’d get to see one in person.

A real book.

Here at the Last Library, we are the proud owners of the world’s largest – and only – digital literary archive. Ever since the Great Media Purge of 2315 this has been the only place on the planet where members of the public are allowed, for a reasonable fee of just twelve million credits, to read books. From the great plays of William Shakespeare to the classic novels of Stephenie Meyer, from the ancient epics of Homer to the rhythmic poetry of Jay-Z, those with a keen enough interest and a large enough wallet can peruse a vast digital library of works, all available as instantaneous mind-uploads. Here, you can absorb the entire literary canon in the time it takes to say “Ah, now I see why this costs twelve million credits”.

My job as chief archivist is to maintain the collection of works here by ensuring that any new books which arrive at the library are scanned into the database and backed up to the cloud (by “the cloud”, I of course mean High Overlord Nimbus, the sentient alien storm cloud who took over the world last Thursday… again…) Sadly, in all the years I’ve worked here, not a single new book has arrived for me to scan. Until today.

When I woke up this morning and stumbled downstairs to the lobby, an unmarked parcel was sitting invitingly on the doorstep. Given that company policy when encountering a mysterious package is to return it to High Overlord Nimbus (he probably dropped it by accident and would really like it back), I decided company policy didn’t apply to me, and tore open the package to see what was inside. I felt like a kid on Christmas morning, as they used to say in the old days, back when Christmas wasn’t banned for being “too fun”.

Inside the package was an ancient artefact I’d always dreamed of holding in my hands. A book. A real one! I couldn’t believe it. It was just like I imagined, except a lot smaller and dustier and not as shiny and mostly falling apart and not really anything like I’d imagined at all. But it was still fascinating. The book was titled “Sixe Courte Comedies”, by John Lyly. It consisted of a series of synthetic leaves bound together, made from what they used to call “paper” (note: tastes very strange, do not eat), a thin, flexible material apparently made from wood pulp. They chopped down trees just so they could read books! No wonder the only rainforest left is kept in a vault on Mars.

Upon each leaf of paper was text, much like the text you’re reading right now, except it wasn’t on a screen; it was physically imprinted on the very fabric of the book. You couldn’t edit or delete it, it was permanent. So permanent, in fact, that it’s lasted hundreds of years, unlike this log which will be instantly erased once read. According to legends, words were printed onto books using a dense black liquid known as ink, presumably harvested from the local octopus farm. This ink substance is what they used to write with. They say anyone could pick up a “pen” (an instrument filled with ink) and write whatever they wanted – you didn’t even need a licence! But this was not mere penmanship. Every letter was precise, uniform, like a font. But how was such uniformity produced? I accessed the database to research the matter, and found some intriguing information on the subject. Apparently, those who produced books in this period used printing presses: huge hand-operated devices which would press a board of raised letters covered with ink onto the sheet of paper. An ingenious invention by Johannes Gutenberg, Moveable Type allowed printers to reorder letters as needed for each sheet. Each letter was assigned to an individual leaden tile, and these tiles were arranged by hand to create words (like in the ancient mental aptitude test known as Scrabble).

As I read through the book, I noticed that before each play was a title page, marked by the printer’s seal: an image of a jaunty fellow lifting a feathery bird up to the heavens. They say pets look like their owners, and that is very much the case here, as the man’s hair bears a striking resemblance to a dead seagull. Along with this peculiar picture is the date of publication (1632) and place of publication: London! That’s where my great-grandparents lived many years ago, back before Great Britain left the Galactic Union and took off into the sky, never to be seen again. This page also tells us that the volume was printed by William Stansby, for Edward Blount. In other words, Stansby did all the hard work and Blount took all the profits. Reminds me of my working relationship with the High Overlord. Not that my work is particularly hard… or particularly work, come to think of it.

The main title page states that these plays were “Often Presented and Acted before Queene Elizabeth, by the Children of her Majesties Chapell, and the Children of Paules”. I have simplified this text here for your convenience, as in the original many of the S’s are elongated, so that they appear like F’s. I can only assume that this must be because everyone back then spoke with a lisp. Also presented here is the author, “the only Rare Poet of that Time, The Wittie, Comicall, Facetiously Quicke, and unparalleld John Lilly, Master of Arts”. I presume they ran out of space to add “exceedingly modest” to that list. There is also an undecipherable phrase in a strange language I cannot find any examples of in my database: “Decles repetitia placebunt”. Perhaps this is an example of a “dead” language, only studied and known by the erudite and wise (i.e. not me.)

As I continued to read through the book, my train of thought was suddenly halted by an introductory message to the reader, which for some reason had been placed directly in the middle of the book! At first I thought this was a mistake, but perhaps this is not the case after all. According to my research, those rich enough to purchase books (which were only moderately cheaper than visiting this library) could ask for custom bindings, allowing them to select their own cover for the book. Some of these binding services may also have allowed the customer to re-order the pages; perhaps the owner of this volume wished for Gallathea to come first in the order of plays and asked for the sections to be rearranged, hence the dedication to the reader being in the middle of the book rather than at the beginning. This would also explain why the signatures at the bottom of each page (which were designed to allow printers to fold the sheets correctly) are in the wrong order, starting with P instead of A.

The dedication to the reader is written by Edward Blount, the thieving capitalist who stole William Stansby’s hard-earned cash via illicit methods such as “being his boss” and “owning the printing company”. In the dedication, Blount admits to more heinous crimes, such as grave robbery: “I have (for the love I beare to Posteritie) dig’d up the grave of a Rare and Excellent Poet”, animal cruelty: “a shame, such conceipted comedies, should be acted by none but wormes” and most despicable of all, recycling: “I have gathered the scattered branches and by a Charme (gotten from Apollo) made them greene again”. Seeing such morally repugnant actions being encouraged made my skin crawl. I simply could not stand it. Therefore, with tears in my eyes, I threw the object which I had yearned for my entire life directly into the incinerator. Luckily, I had forgotten to switch the incinerator on, which was a relief when I changed my mind a few moments later, and rescued the book from its infernal fate, squeezing it tightly in my arms like a newborn baby (note: do not squeeze newborn babies too tightly unless you enjoy the feeling of milky vomit trickling down your shoulder). I decided not to scan the book into the database: it was too precious to share. I took it upstairs to my living quarters, and smiled at the witty writing, the masterful printing, and the funny long S things.

Message ends. This blog post will self-destruct in 3… 2… 1…

Lyly, John. Sixe Court Comedies (1632)

By Patrick, Polly, Zoe, Gabs, and Alex.

The discoverie of witchcraft by reginald scott

This book, published in 1584, intends to prove that those that claim to be witches may be false.

The title page.

The Title Page

The purpose of this page appears to be an effort to prove that Reginald Scott’s goal is not opposite to God’s, but is aligned with Christianity. Scott refers to a verse as evidence that God is against those that pray on the superstitious, which warns to ‘try the spirits, whether they are of God; for many false prophets are gone out into the world.’ Furthermore, Scott even groups atheists together with ‘soothsayers’ (fortune tellers) and ‘conjurers’, depicting these as, like atheists, not of God.

The Reader

An interesting element of the title page is the owner’s writing; it appears as though the owner did not only mark the book with his name, Rockson, but also was interested in the book’s font, and tried to practice writing in this style. Printing was a relatively new technology at the time, and books being mass printed with beautiful fonts, not by hand, while being expensive were also more accessible and therefore seeing this must have been interesting to the reader.


Reginald Scott dedicated his book to three figures (four including the reader, which reveal some interesting things about the authorial intention.

Manwood, Sir Roger (1524/5–1592), judge

Reginald first dedicates this book to Sir Roger, praising his judgement. This could be because Reginald, again, seeks to justify himself, and prove that he is not against judges which may condemn witches, merely wanting to aid their efforts. This grovelling could be because he is afraid that the publishing of this book may cause him to be in trouble with the law, especially if he insults such an esteemed member of the government.

Reginald’s dedication to Sir Roger Manwood.

Scott, Sir Thomas (1534×6–1594), landowner

Reginald Scott spends a generous amount of time exalting his cousin, Sir Thomas Scott. While it seemed as though this is because this cousin was an influence of some sort, research has revealed that Reginald’s fervent worship of his cousin was probably due to the author’s financial reliance on this very cousin, a man which inherited from their grandfather ‘thirty manors.’

Coldwell, John (c. 1535–1596), bishop of Salisbury

Reginald dedicates his book also to a man named John Coldwell with great admiration, stating that he is interested in continuing the bishop’s work. While Coldwell had not publish anything witchcraft related, at least nothing surviving, the character’s background, which involves both achieving a master’s in Cambridge as well as becoming a man of the church, is much like Scott’s stated goal. While Reginald believes in logic rather than blind belief, at his core he is a man of God, wanting to separate religion from superstition.

Reginald’s dedication to Doctor Coldwell.

Dedication to The Reader

This dedication is interesting because it assumes that the reader is already prejudiced about superstition, therefore it seems to be to a person engrossed in popular culture. This passage simply asks the reader to be open minded, because if they are a participating in groupthink and following their emotions, their bias will deny the contents of the book. Therefore, Reginald is seeking to use logos rather than pathos to convince the reader.

Reginald’s dedication to the reader.

The Diagram

This illustration is especially interesting as it is a look into how illusion was used in the theater. Reginald portrays how a decapitation may be created in a performance, and uses this as evidence to show that those that claim they are magical can use these same techniques to depict a false illusion.

A diagram portraying how an illusion can be created on stage.

List of Authors

This appears to be an early form of citation. The reason for this could be not only to give credit, but a way of using ethos. As the list of references is so large, this proves that Scott was involved in a lot of research, therefore is very knowledgeable on the subject, which may sway the reader into agreeing with Reginald’s stance on superstition.

The list of Authors.


There is a list of amended sentences in this book, which is likely due to the infancy of publishing at the time. Because books were mass printed, which was expensive, it would be difficult to correct individual pages. Therefore, perhaps it was cheaper to later print a page with the corrected sentences, with references to those pages.

The list of corrections.


Pictures taken by Victoria Mezzetto

Jack, Sybil M. “Manwood, Sir Roger (1524/5–1592), judge.” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.  January 03, 2008. Oxford University Press. Date of access 30 Oct. 2019, <>

Knafla, Louis A. “Scott, Sir Thomas (1534×6–1594), landowner.” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.  January 03, 2008. Oxford University Press. Date of access 30 Oct. 2019, <>

PlantinMoretusmuseum. “DVD – Museum Plantin-Moretus (English).” YouTube, YouTube, 5 Nov. 2015,

Rundle, Penelope. “Coldwell, John (c. 1535–1596), bishop of Salisbury.” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.  May 21, 2009. Oxford University Press. Date of access 30 Oct. 2019, <>

Wootton, David. “Scott [Scot], Reginald (d. 1599), writer on witchcraft.” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.  September 23, 2004. Oxford University Press. Date of access 30 Oct. 2019, <>

The Production of Early Printed Books

The production of early printed books is almost unrecognisable from the printing process of today.  Printing was an artisan skill as there was not the large scale production methods that are commonplace in the modern industry.  Books were printed sheet by sheet, rather than page by page and then these sheets were folded to form the book. The less times a sheet was folded, the more expensive the book was.  Folios, where the sheet was folded in half, were therefore the most expensive and quartos – a sheet folded four times – were cheaper. Books were printed on the Gutenberg Press with movable type, which was designed by Gutenberg (surprisingly enough) in the 15th Century but brought to England by William Caxton.

The printing of books was paid for by publishers.  Printers, who manufactured the physical book and stationers, who bind the pages and sell them to customers, were all instructed by the publishers, who would pay an author roughly £2 for a manuscript.  All of these professions had to belong to the Stationer’s Company, which the publisher paid a licensing fee for each text. The publisher also had to provide the printer with the paper and pay for a first run of 200 copies – an expensive business!  They then sold unbound copies directly to customers and stationers. Because they paid for this whole process, publishers determined the content of title pages, e.g. the advertising feature of the book.  They sometimes wrote dedications and commissioned dedicatory verses for their author.

  From the front cover we are provided with basic information about the book. We learn that the text is John Harrington’s translation of Ariostos Orlando Furioso, which was published in 1634. We also get an insight into that form, as it states that it is written in English, heroical verse. The cover states that it is “Printed in London by G. Miller for J Parker,” so we can understand that the printer was G. Miller and J. Parker was the publisher. It also states that it is “Thirdly Revised,” so we know that it is the third edition. Upon further research, we found that the editions were published in 1591, 1607, 1634. All three editions were dedicated to Queen Elizabeth the first, because she was his patron. 

The intricate illustrations show that there are clear classical and divine themes to Orlando’s Furioso, with the inclusion of Gods, cherubs and angels around the two figures. The way the two figures are positioned and the inclusion of what appears to be Cupid suggests the romance element to the narrative. There is a large illustration of Ariosto, showing that this is his original work and that this text is Harington’s English translation. The quite dominating illustration of John Harrington presents his want for authorship.

Further research on Early English Books Online proved that the title page was engraved, as were illustrations, with copper rather than wood – this would result in better quality, more intricate, more impressive illustrations with perspective and shading, which in turn would make it a more expensive text to buy. There also proved to be 142 copies of all 3 copies in existence, suggested it was a popular text as there still remains multiple copies across numerous countries’ and cities’ archives.

It would also seems that the only other surviving text Harington wrote was the ‘Metamorphosis of Ajax’, and paratexts of that such as ‘Apologie for Ajax’.

Phoebe, Holly, Pearl, Charlotte

Pastor vs actor

This week’s debate will discuss whether theatre still stands as a legitimate art form for the public to indulge. We introduce Pastor Peter Day and actor Walter Wright from the Chamberlain’s Men.


The theatre needs to go. Every week there are fewer supporters of my sermons and I have started to note, and almost expected, a rise in the shift of public morals. The theatre’s surrounding areas are riddled with brothels, gambling houses, and public drinking places. Passers-by flirt dangerously with these immoral habits, even on holy days.


Yet, the theatre blesses us all with entertainment, financial gain and explicit education on our country’s history and culture. The stories we share are before our time, and the revival of dead playwrights’ work means that I, as an actor, can express their once lively rhetoric. How are those without the ability to read allowed to learn about their own country’s heritage without a visual retelling of our past? These histories ‘plant understanding in the hearts of the ignorant.’


I cannot fathom the disrespect towards the church that has become ingrained within the theatre, as our society abides by explicit biblical readings and teaching of these through religious worship. If our society is seeing bad examples of this onstage, then they will abide by this in life itself. The minds of the idle are easily tainted by visual example and spectacle. Misbehaviour could lead to rebellion against our Lord. This will not do. How can religious minds like mine remain unscathed by the bad example that theatre brings? Even I have the potential to be persuaded by their grandeur and noble garments.


I know some might refute these statements with idle chatter about the display of immoral behaviour and cause for this to become riotous, however when the public are within the walls of our Globe, they are neither out whoring or gambling, they are being enlightened, educated and entertained.


At the very least, these plays need to be censored and abandoned. The mass grouping of immoral citizens could easily insight a moral rebellion, leading to idol minds going into promiscuous professions, such as pick-pocketing, conning the vulnerable and, even at some lengths, prostitution. Furthermore, the succeeding unproductivity of those not at work has the potential to lead to social unrest and idleness, especially with the volatile religious climate as Catholicism takes reign.


We are supported generously by our sovereign Queen’s opinions of the stage. Surely her opinion should be paramount for our populous. As she is the earth’s representative of God, how can this not be enjoyed by the religious? ‘Since God has provided us of these pastimes, why may we not use them to his glory?’

By Felix, Ross, Joumana, Rebecca and Francesca

In Defense of the theater


  • Audiences can learn from the imitation of the stage if they themselves imitate virtuous characters – plays provide a “map of morality” by showing which virtues to embrace and shows the ugliness of vices
  • All theatre shouldn’t be banned just because of a few immoral plays
  • Jesus and The New Testament never banned theatre
  • By acting out histories, it gains respect for forefathers: “every succeeding age hath recorder their worths unto fresh admiration.” The “wonder” and “valour” of figures of the past should be shown to others and this can only be done by acting. 


  • “Stage plays are the doctrine and invention of the devil.” 
  • “Plays are the proceedings and the practices of the gentiles in their idolatry” – worshiping something that isn’t God – the plague spreading in playhouses is punishment for this idolatry 
  • Plays do not teach the audience or actors anything – they serve no higher purpose
  • Men dressing as women may make the men effeminate, or confuse the audience – it is against God’s law
  • “comedies / tragedies/ romances teach us the wrong lessons- they are lecherous, desirous, unlawful, adulterous, murderous” 
  • Theaters are breeding grounds for the plague and “contemporary religious thought held that the plague was a punishment for sin”- therefore the theater and sin are intertwined. 
  • The theater allows entertainment to be available in the day time, it could lead to a lack of productivity and laziness. 


A: More mead, Sir?  I’ll call the serving wench.

D: Nay not for I, or I’ll be late to the theatre.

A: The theatre?!

D: Yes, that chap Shakespeare’s latest offering.  Sorry old boy, I’d have got you a ticket if I’d known you were interested.

A: I am as far from interested as the sun is from the moon.

D: No, well, more of a bear-baiting fan myself too, truth be told, but the missus likes it so to the theatre I go. Why are you so dreadfully opposed to a little theatre?

A: Because of the blasphemy, old friend, the blasphemy! How can we forget that all theatre is idolatry, and what’s more, the very embodiment of sinful deception. It’s like the saying goes, “Stage plays are the doctrine and invention of the devil.” Don’t you worry about catching the plague? It’s not just the close proximity with all those rough types – it’s the judgement of the Lord.

D: The plague, I shall grant you, is a fair warning against an evening at the stage. But after all, Jesus in the New Testament of the Holy Book never banned theatre, so who are we to condemn it so?

A: Those lazy, immoral ‘actors’ (I hasten to even suggest that title as a real profession) strut about the stage in the garb of a lord, all the while being a lowly peasant underneath! What’s to stop them thinking they can carry on this charade off the stage…or even worse, giving your labourers lofty ideas? A good portion of mine already leave their posts in the mid-afternoon to indulge in such silly fancies at the Rose. It’s a disruption to the workforce.

D: Ah, but you seem to be forgetting, rogues and knaves are punished for their wrongdoings in stage plays of the moment, and the noble, virtuous hero, he triumphs: a play can be the very map of morality if one reads it properly. And for those uneducated theater-goers in the audience, the performance provides a perfect display of what is true and proper: they only have to copy the virtuous characters to be moral members of our society. The theater isn’t all that bad, fine sir, but now, I must be off – the missus will chew my ear off if I’m late.

Charlotte, Holly, Phoebe, El, Pearl