Establishing the "Worshipful Company of Stationers": Women and Marriage Networks in the Foundation of the Stationers’ Company

Saturday, January 5, 2019: 5:10 PM
Marquette Room (Hilton Chicago)
Tara S. Wood, Ball State University
This project seeks to expand our understanding of some of the less visible means by which the Stationers’ Company, in the decades following the granting of the Company’s Charter in 1557, established its hegemony over the book trade in the British Isles. Recent scholarship has illustrated the role of women in the book trades by examining how women acted as printers, publishers, and booksellers. This project expands on that work by focusing on the impact of a pivotal rule that governed the actions of women within the trades and in relation to the Stationers’ Company: women could maintain their activities within the book trades and hold copyrights only if they operated as the widow of a guild member or if they married within the Company. Thus, through marriage alliances, women played an important, though largely invisible role in establishing the power of the Stationers’ Company.
Network analysis allows us to recover and recognize early modern women’s agency in an important aspect of early modern life: through the informal networks of affiliation through which women moved. This research has resulted in a heavily annotated database that uses network analysis to analyze women’s networks in the early modern London book trade. The database includes information on religious affiliations, patronage, familial, economic, and political connections. This data has allowed me to assess the extent to which women contributed to the Stationers’ Company’s ability to establish and maintain its monopoly on the book trades in London. In addition, it has been possible to draw conclusions about other aspects of identity and connection amongst those women who inhabited the world of the book trades and how these intersecting identities influenced the conduct of the trades.
<< Previous Presentation | Next Presentation