Women publishers of puritan literature in the mid-seventeenth century : three case studies
This thesis looks beyond the stereotypes of women as transmitters and caretakers of businesses by focussing on the careers of three women, one a widow who remarried, one a woman with no apparent family connection with the trade, and the third another widow who carried on the business for almost ten years after the death of her husband. Their careers are reconstructed from biographical data and the details of their publishing output. Emphasis is placed on the relationship of individuals to the sectarian communities for which they published, and on the ways in which sectarian material came to be published and distributed. The studies suggest ways in which women's inferior legal status could protect them in their 'seditious' activities, and reveal the inadequacies of attempts to control the press during the period 1645-75. Hannah Allen's output demonstrates her development over a brief period of a specialized trade in books representing the strand of Independent thought which grew into Fifth Monarchism, and her emergence from economic dependency on partnerships to become a publisher in her own right. Mary Westwood's career reveals a level of publishing outside the London book trade and concerned exclusively with a Quaker market largely in-the provinces. The career of Elizabeth Calvert is examined both before and after the death of her husband in order to investigate her role in a leading radical bookseiling business. -' Her later activities provide evidence of the shortcomings of the 1662 'Licensing, Act, and confrontations between a group of 'Confederate' women and the authorities suggest how women could avoid punishment despite their persistent publishing of nonconformist and opposition literature.