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

§ 20. St. Paul’s Churchyard

In London, the localities most favoured by the booksellers of the Elizabethan period were St. Paul’s churchyard, Fleet street and, towards the end of the century, Paternoster row; but St. Paul’s was quite clearly the focus of the trade. The business premises around the cathedral church were of two classes, the houses which bordered the churchyard, and the less substantial booths (or lock-up shops) and stalls which clustered round the walls and at the doors of the building itself. Those stationers who dwelt at any distance from St. Paul’s evidently felt the need of getting into closer touch with this business centre, for some of them are found also occupying stalls at the doors. One of these was Henry Bynneman, a printer and stationer who lived at the Mermaid in Knight Rider street and had also a shop at the northwest door of Paul’s. His publications include some of the Latin works of Gabriel Harvey, and he printed for Richard Smith the first acknowledged edition (1575) of Gascoigne’s Posies, as well as the previous issue which appeared about 1573 under the title of A Hundreth sundrie Flowers; the 1577 edition of Holinshed’s Chronicles, and Stanyhurst’s translation of the first four books of the Aeneid, also came from his press, the latter in 1583, the year of his death. When John Day found that his printing house in Aldersgate was not well situated for the sale of his books, he, too, in 1572, secured a site in the churchyard as offering a better opportunity for the disposal of his large stock, and the description of the little structure which he put up gives us a good idea of the appearance of one of these churchyard shops.

  • He got framed a neat handsome shop. It was but little and low, and flat-roofed, and leaded like a terrace, railed and posted, fit for men to stand upon in any triumph or show.
  • And it cost him, we are told, forty or fifty pounds.