In this second volume of his classic English Books and Readers, first published in 1965, H. S. Bennett continues the story down to the end of the reign of Elizabeth I. His purpose is to give an account of the total output of books and pamphlets in this period, irrespective of their qualities as literature. He reveals a picture of astonishing variety and fertility. The part of it which concerns the production of imaginative, philosophical and religious books is fairly well known; but by far the larger proportion of the output of the printing presses consisted of such diverse products as histories and geographies, moral treatises, translations from the Classics, legal and medical text-books, writings on sports and pastimes, seamanship, primers of instruction in languages and music, the great and famous corpus of travel books, volumes of ballads and verses, and cheap and sensational pamphlets on such topics as monstrous births, strange creatures, the evil practices of witches and the diabolical objectives of traitors. Besides showing how the printers, booksellers and their allies made this enormously diverse mass of material readily available to the Elizabethan reading public, the author examines as well the relations between writers and readers.
Table of Contents
1. The inception of a book
3. The regulation of the book trade
4. translations and translators
5. The variety of books
6. Printers and booksellers