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Kentish Book Culture

Writers, Archives, Libraries and Sociability 1400-1660

Edited By Claire Bartram

This volume explores the writing practices and book collections of a range of individuals in early modern Kent including monks, a mariner and an apothecary as well as members of the gentry and clergy and urban administrators. In a county with ready access to metropolitan, courtly and continental influences, a vibrant provincial book culture flourished, in which literacy was prized and book ownership widespread. Reinforcing the important social role played by the literate and revealing something of their creative potential, the essays gathered here also uncover an appetite for debate, reflected in the books owned, lent, written and published by the Kentish in the period covered. Underpinning all of this is an enduring culture of sociability, centred around the book as an object to be shared.

Interdisciplinary in approach, this collection brings together specialists in the history of the book, literary scholars, social historians and librarians to explore the nature of authorship and the dynamics of the market for print and manuscript books outside London. It demonstrates the rich potential of regional archival study to extend our understanding of medieval and early modern literature.

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3 Chronicling Dover: Authorship, Archives and Audiences, c. 1580–1604



This chapter considers two histories of Dover harbour, one by Reginald Scot, print-published in the second edition of Holinshed’s Chronicle (1587) and the other, by John Tooke, in manuscript (1604). Following a social history of writing approach, the chapter reconstructs the context of their first production tracing the role of both writers in the monumental harbour repairs of the 1580s. It considers how we might use these texts to recover literate practice and textual production in local society, to reveal archiving processes at a personal, civic and state level and to reveal the sources for and to begin to reflect on the act of writing history.

The Elizabethan renovation of Dover harbour stimulated an extensive number of texts that cover a wide range of formats as the Dover townsmen together with gentry officials and commissioners, Privy Councillors and others sought to establish the best means of keeping the harbour operational. To date, this material has been used to reconstruct events and to explore the negotiation of process between the competing authorities of the town, the county elite and the state.1 Focusing on Reginald Scot’s account of the harbour repairs printed in the second edition of Holinshed’s Chronicle of 1587 and a work in manuscript by a Dover mariner John Tooke entitled A Discourse of Dover Harbour dated 1604, this chapter considers the reuse of harbour administration as a ←73 | 74→resource for the writing of history.2 It asks how we might use the...

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