Home  »  Volume IV: English PROSE AND POETRY SIR THOMAS NORTH TO MICHAEL DRAYTON  »  § 19. William Ponsonby; Christopher and Robert Barker

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume IV. Prose and Poetry: Sir Thomas North to Michael Drayton.

XVIII. The Book-Trade, 1557–1625

§ 19. William Ponsonby; Christopher and Robert Barker

From a literary point of view, one of the most notable of the publishers was William Ponsonby, from whose house there issued between 1577 and 1604, the year of his death, a number of important books, among them being Sir Philip Sidney’s Arcadia in 1590, and his works (Arcadia, etc.), 1598, Bedingfield’s translation of Machiavelli’s Florentine Historie, 1595, and Greene’s Mamillia (1582–93). But it is as the publisher of Spenser’s works that he is best known to fame. Beginning with The Faerie Queene (books 1–3) in 1590, he issued all Spenser’s works, with the exception of the Shepheards Calender, which was published by Hugh Singleton in 1579. Simon Waterson, who, on Ponsonby’s death, acquired some of his copyrights, published many of Samuel Daniel’s works, and for some years acted as London bookseller for the university printers of Oxford and Cambridge. The most influential man in the trade, in the latter part of the sixteenth century, was Christopher Barker, the queen’s printer, who has already been mentioned. His presses were largely occupied with the printing of Bibles and official work, and, on his death in 1599, he was succeeded in the office of royal printer by his son Robert, whose name is associated with the issue of the royal version (the Authorised Version) of the Bible in 1611. Among the other five hundred or more stationers who printed or published books during this period may be mentioned Thomas Marshe, who, between 1554 and 1587, issued many other books besides the school books for which he held a patent of monopoly; Henry Fetherstone, the publisher of Purchas his Pilgrimes; Ralph Newbery and George Bishop, two of the partners in the issue of Holinshed’s Chronicles and Hakluyt’s Voyages; and Nicholas Bourne, a prolific publisher of undistinguished books, who had an interest in the Swedish Intelligencer and other budgets of foreign news.