“Entered for his copy”: Reading the Stationers’ Register

Wednesday, November 6, 2019
4:00 pm PST – 5:15 pm PST

William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
2520 Cimarron Street

Fifteenth Kenneth Karmiole Lecture on the History of the Book Trade
—given by Ian Gadd, Bath Spa University

The Stationers’ Register is one of the most consulted archival documents of the early modern period. It is also, frankly, one of the least understood. First established in 1557 by the London Stationers’ Company to record the publishing rights of its members and cited in Britain’s first copyright statute in 1710, it survives in an almost unbroken sequence until 1924. It played a crucial role in the development of Anglo-American copyright.

This presentation will provide an account of the development of the Stationers’ Register during the first hundred years of its existence, describing its purpose, its procedures, and its many idiosyncrasies. It will consider how previous scholars have encountered and worked with the records, most notably Edward Arber, whose edition of the Register up to 1640 remains a standard reference tool. It will also explain how a new digital project, Stationers’ Register Online, aims to transform our understanding of how early modern “copyright” worked by creating the first publicly available database of the copy-entries recorded in the Stationers’ Register.

Ian Gadd is a Professor of English Literature at Bath Spa University, and the Academic Director of the Global Academy of Liberal Arts (GALA), an international network of universities founded by Bath Spa in 2014. He is a General Editor of the Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jonathan Swift, and was a volume editor for The History of Oxford University Press (2013–17). He is a past president of SHARP (the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing). He wrote his Oxford D.Phil. on the Stationers’ Company, has taught courses on the Stationers’ Company at Rare Book School, and is currently editing Liber A, the only major early modern record in the Company’s archive that has not yet been published.

This lecture is made possible by a generous endowment established in 2005 by Kenneth Karmiole, a Santa Monica antiquarian bookseller. The lecture series focuses on the book trade in England and Europe during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

There is no charge for this event. Advance booking is requested.

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