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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

§ 8. Compilers, “Readers” and Translators

Besides publishing books brought to them by authors, stationers often took the initiative and engaged writers to produce works for them. Thus, it was at the instance and expense of Christopher Barker that George Turbervile undertook the compilation of The noble arte of venerie or hunting (1575), the publisher himself seeking out and procuring works of foreign writers for the use of the compiler. When William Fulke was at work upon his Confutation of the Rhemish Testament, he and two of his men with their horses, were maintained in London for three-quarters of a year by the publisher of the book, George Bishop, who also supplied Fulke with such books as he required, and at the finish paid him forty pounds for his work. The six revisers who went up to London to make the final revision of the Authorised Version of the Bible, each received thirty shillings a week for the nine months during which they were engaged upon the task. For his Survey of London, John Stow had £3 and 40 copies; and, “for his pains in the Brief Chronicle, he received twenty shillings and 50 copies.

Correcting and editing for the press afforded occupation for a few scholars in the more important printing-houses, and it is probable that John Foxe, after his return from the continent, worked in some such capacity in the office of John Day, as he had previously done in the house of Oporinus at Basel. Christopher Barker, in 1582, mentions the payment of “learned correctours” as one of the expenses which printers had to bear; and, about 1630, the king’s printing-house was employing four correctors, all of whom were masters of arts.

Translations, of which an extraordinary number were published during this period, formed a large part of the work which hack writers did for booksellers, and it was generally poorly paid work. For the writing of an ordinary pamphlet, two pounds seems to have been a customary payment, but oft-times, especially in the case of translation, the writer had to content himself with receiving a certain number of copies to dispose of for his own benefit. After 1622, when news sheets began to be issued, the translating of these from foreign Corantos offered another means of earning a pittance, and if there were dearth of news, or the supply of foreign print failed, the resourcefulness of writers was, doubtless, quite equal to that of Thomas Herbert and his companions who, some twenty years later, sat themselves down at the sign of the Antelope and there “composed” Good News from Ireland, Bloudy Newes and other equally reliable information, and then sold their fabrications to the stationers for half-a-crown apiece.