The Edinburgh History of the British and Irish Press, Volume 1

Beginnings and Consolidation 1640–1800

Edited by Nicholas Brownlees

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Comprehensively sets out the cross-regional and transnational dimension of press history in early-modern Britain and Ireland
  • Provides an exhaustive history of the British and Irish Press from the outbreak of the British Civil Wars to the eve of the Act of Union, reflected upon in a mixture of core chapters, substantive chapters, and focused case studies
  • Expert contributors examine features regarding the production, transmission and reception of not just newspapers but also the more specialised press
  • Offers unique and important reassessments of the seventeenth and eighteenth-century British and Irish periodical press within social, cultural, technological, economic, linguistic and historical contexts

Consisting of twenty-eight chapters and numerous case studies the volume examines the history of the British and Irish press from its seventeenth-century beginnings up until the end of the eighteenth century. Five core chapters regard the Business of the Press (including advertising), Production and Distribution, Legal Constraints and Opportunities, Readers and Readerships, and the Emerging Identities and Communities of news writers and journalists. Other contributions focus on particular national realities such as those in Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The contributions examine features relating to the production, transmission and reception of not just news publications but also the more specialised press such as periodical essays, women’s periodicals, literary and review journalism, medical journals, and the criminal and religious press. As much early modern news was a transnational phenomenon the volume includes studies on European and trans-Atlantic networks as well as the role of translation in news transmission and output.

List of IllustrationsAcknowledgementsList of Contributors

Introduction: Nicholas Brownlees

1. Business of the Press, 1640–1800: Nicholas Brownlees and David Finkelstein

Case Study 1: The Times: David Finkelstein

2. Production and Distribution: Helen S. Williams

3. Legal Contexts: Licensing, Censorship and Censure: Geoff Kemp and Jason McElligott

4. Readers and Readerships: Sophie H. Jones

Case Study 2: Readerships in Eighteenth-Century Liverpool: Sophie H. Jones

5. From News Writers to Journalists: An Emerging Profession?: Martin Conboy

Case Study 3: Daniel Defoe: Martin Conboy

6. From Manuscript to Print: The Multimedia News System: Rachael Scarborough King

Case Study 4: The Post Boy: Rachael Scarborough King

7. Newsbook to Newspaper: Changing Format, Layout and Illustration in Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century Periodical News: Yann Ryan

Case Study 5: Form, Layout, and the Digitised Newspaper: Irish News in 1649: Yann Ryan

8. The Evolving Language of the Press: Nicholas Brownlees and Birte Bös

Case Study 6: The Press and the Standard Accent: Massimo Sturiale

9. News, Debate and the Public Sphere: Pat Rogers

Case Study 7: Nathaniel Mist: Pat Rogers

10. Irish Periodical News, 1640–1800: Toby Barnard

Case Study 8: Ireland's First Newspaper: Mercurius Hibernicus and the Court of Claims 1663: Colum Kenny

Case Study 9: The Early Years of the Freeman’s Journal, 1763–1806: Felix M. Larkin

11. The Scottish Press: Rhona Brown

Case Study 10: Reading the News in Scotland: The Jacobite Rising of 1715: Anette Hagan

12. The Market for the News in Scotland: Stephen W. Brown

Case Study 11: Newspaper Access and Distribution beyond the Scottish Capital: The Daily Practicalities: Iain Beavan

13. Scottish Press: News Transmission and Networks between Scotland and America in the Eighteenth Century: Mark G. Spencer

Case Study 12: ‘Farewell to the Highlands’: Or, How Broadsides Helped Create Images of the Scottish Diaspora: Marina Dossena

14. Wales and the News, 1640–1800: Sarah Ward Clavier

15. European Exchanges, Networks and Contexts 1640–1800: Brendan Dooley

16. Translation and the Press: Mairi McLaughlin and Nicholas Brownlees

Case Study 13: Gazette de Londres: Nicholas Brownlees

17. Women and the Eighteenth-Century Print Trade: Rebecca Shapiro

Case Study 14: Anne Fisher and the Print Trade: Rebecca Shapiro

18. The Medical Press, 1640–1800: Irma Taavitsainen

Case Study 15: Knowing the Parts of Woman: How Knowledge about Reproduction and Childbirth is Communicated in the Earliest Medical Press: Richard J. Whitt

19. Commenting and Reflecting on the News: Edward Taylor

Case Study 16: John Tutchin and George Ridpath’s Observator (1702–12): Edward Taylor

20. Newspapers and War: Nicole Greenspan

Case Study 17: Mercurius Politicus and the Jamaica invasion (1655): Nicole Greenspan

21. Crime and Trial Reporting (1640–1800): Elisabetta Cecconi

Case Study 18: Reporting the Assassination of the Archbishop of St. Andrews (1679): Elisabetta Cecconi

22. Literary and Review Journalism: Hye-Joon Yoon

Case Study 19: The Scottish Enlightenment in The Monthly and The Critical: Hye-Joon Yoon

23. Press and Politics in the Seventeenth Century: Lena Liapi

Case Study 20: ‘A Hellish Conspiracy’: news reportage of the 1696 Assassination Plot: Lena Liapi

24. Religion and the Seventeenth-Century Press: Katie McKeogh and Sarah Ward Clavier

Case Study 21: Papistry and the News: Katie McKeogh and Sarah Ward Clavier

25. Runaway Announcements and Narratives of the Enslaved: John W. Cairns

26. The Press in Literature and Drama: Michael Palmer

Case Study 22: Ben Jonson

27. Informational Abundance and Material Absence in the Digitised Early Modern Press: The Case for Contextual Digitisation: Paul Gooding

Case Study 23: The London Gazette, or printing the news in a pandemic: Paul Gooding

Concluding Comments Timeline of Significant Events Bibliography Additional Notes

This is an indispensable collection, which skilfully maps the territory of news in early modern Britain, explores the central issues involved, and surveys a burgeoning historiography. At the same time, it also presents a wealth of striking evidence drawn from cutting-edge research, and highlights numerous avenues for further investigation. Essential reading.
Jason Peacey, UCL
Nicholas Brownlees is Professor of English Language at the University of Florence, Italy. He has written extensively on news discourse in the early modern era and has published in numerous international journals and with publishing houses such as Ashgate, Benjamins, Brepols, Brill, Cambridge Scholars, Peter Lang, Routledge, and Cambridge University Press (forthcoming). He edited The Role of Context in the Production and Reception of Historical News Discourse (Peter Lang, 2021). He is the founder and board member of the series of international conferences on Historical News Discourse (CHINED).

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