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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: June ::
Re: Cuthbert Burby
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1636  Wednesday, 27 June 2001

[1]     From:   Will Sharpe <
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        Date:   26 Jun 2001 14:18:07 BST
        Subj:   Re: [SHK 12.1617 Re: Cuthbert Burby]

[2]     From:   William Proctor Williams <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 26 Jun 2001 09:50:14 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1617 Re: Cuthbert Burby

[3]     From:   Leslie Thomson <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 26 Jun 2001 10:06:59 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1617 Re: Cuthbert Burby

[4]     From:   David Kathman <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 26 Jun 2001 20:39:55 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1617 Re: Cuthbert Burby


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Will Sharpe <
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Date:           26 Jun 2001 14:18:07 BST
Subject: 12.1617 Re: Cuthbert Burby]
Comment:        Re: [SHK 12.1617 Re: Cuthbert Burby]

Dear SHAKSPEReans,

I feel I must begin with an apology for being the vile beginner of a
fray here, which I must stress was completely unintentional. Although my
request was not for 'biographical overkill', David Kathman's reply did
contain exactly what I was looking for - a list of useful books that
would have taken me much longer to find otherwise. I was extremely
grateful that he took the time to provide me with biographical details.
My warmest gratitude is also due to Peter Blayney for taking the time to
add to/correct this information....BUT....the last thing I wanted to do
was start a flame war! I feel incredibly guilty right now, so I am
sending this message to entreat you to a peace (unless there are any
other useful sources of information anybody can think of).

Many, many thanks (and apologies),
Will Sharpe.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Proctor Williams <
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Date:           Tuesday, 26 Jun 2001 09:50:14 -0400
Subject: 12.1617 Re: Cuthbert Burby
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1617 Re: Cuthbert Burby

Just to remind us all, Will Sharpe's original question was:

"Dear SHAKSPERians,

Can anybody point me to a good source of information about the
professional details of Cuthbert Burby in and around 1592, specifically
containing answers to the question - did he set type himself or employ
compositors (if so, who and how many) etc.?"

Along with David Kathman I replied in haste and didn't note the error in
McKenzie about printing and non-printing Stationers.  However, it seems
to me that most of us who provided information to Will Sharpe were
responding in the spirit of his request.  None of it seemed to me to be
"pages of half-digested biographical overkill."  I think that we all
answered the question asked as quickly as we could, and although some of
us accidentally included errors which were later corrected by others,
the process was exactly what SHAKSPER is about.  Let us hope that this
does not now descend into "violent strokes," as Marcus Dahl puts it.

William Proctor Williams

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Leslie Thomson <
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Date:           Tuesday, 26 Jun 2001 10:06:59 -0400
Subject: 12.1617 Re: Cuthbert Burby
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1617 Re: Cuthbert Burby

One last comment from Peter Blayney:

"No antagonism: just information.  The distinctions aren't mine-though I
do try to persuade people to use the words more precisely.

A printer is someone who owns or runs a printing-house, and employs
compositors and pressmen to make inky marks on pieces of previously
clean paper.

A bookseller is someone who owns or runs a bookshop and retails books to
the public.  *Some* early printers (though not all) also owned
bookshops, and so were also booksellers; *most* booksellers were never
printers.

A publisher (the word is anachronistic, but the activity wasn't) is
whoever decides to spend money on having a large number of copies of a
book manufactured, and then tries to make a profit by selling them
wholesale to booksellers.  Publishing was a form of investment rather
than a trade.

Most early books were published by people whose trade was either
printing or bookselling (or both).

Before the 1530s, most English publishers were printers who manufactured
their own books.  By 1600, most publishers were booksellers who paid
others to do the manufacturing for them--as the imprint indicates that
Burby paid Danter to print Orlando Furioso for him.

Longer discussion in *A New History of Early English Drama*, ed. John D.
Cox and David Scott Kastan (Columbia U. P., 1997), pp. 389-92.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Kathman <
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Date:           Tuesday, 26 Jun 2001 20:39:55 -0600
Subject: 12.1617 Re: Cuthbert Burby
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1617 Re: Cuthbert Burby

Marcus Dahl wrote:

>I missed the start of this thread which already looks likes it has
>descended to violent strokes. But just a question:
>
>Is Cuthbert Burbie being described as ONLY 'a bookseller'  (i.e. NOT a
>Printer or Publisher as well) or is there evidence for his being more
>than this (i.e. printing of Orlando Furioso by John Danter for C.B)?

I don't think anybody is claiming that Burby was not a publisher as well
as a bookseller.  I'm not aware of any edition of Orlando Furioso
printed by John Danter for C.B. (the first edition of Harington's
translation was both printed and published by Richard Field, and the
second edition 16 years later was printed by Field for John Norton and
Simon Waterson), but Cuthbert Burby was the publisher of quite a few
books, several of which I mentioned in my recent post.  I can't find
anybody in this thread claiming that Burby was purely a bookseller; as
Peter Blayney said in his first response the other day, Burby was a
bookseller and a publisher, but not a printer.

>I have been recently coming across these Blayney-ite divisions between
>Printers, Publishers and Booksellers more and more often and thus I am
>interested to know how far people agree with Blayney's distinctions on
>this.
>
>Please, no antagonism, just sources and reasons.

The three roles of printer, publisher, and bookseller were certainly
distinct ones in Elizabethan/Jacobean England, though a single stationer
could fulfill all three, and most stationers fulfilled at least two of
these roles.  Just for clarification, some brief definitions:

The publisher owned the rights to a written work, invested the capital
needed to get a work printed, and reaped any profits from the venture
(or incurred any losses).

The printer did the actual printing of the physical book.

The bookseller had a shop, the location of which was usually indicated
on the title page of the book, where other booksellers could buy copies
wholesale.  The public could also generally buy the book here for retail
prices, along with any other books that the bookseller had decided to
stock.

Some stationers, like Burby, did not own a printing press; Burby had to
hire a printer for each publishing job he took on, but he would sell the
copies out of his own shop (actually two shops, in this specific case).

Other stationers, such as Richard Field, were primarily printers.  Field
did most of his printing (roughly two-thirds) for other stationers, with
the other one-third (very roughly) being books he owned the rights to
and published himself.  Field must have had a rather modest shop; on no
occasion did he sell a book for another stationer, and on several
occasions he got another stationer to sell a book that he published
(such as the first edition of Shakespeare's *Venus and Adonis*, which
was printed and published by Field but sold at the shop of Field's
partner John Harrison the Elder).

The one notable stationer who had neither a printing press nor a shop of
his own was Thomas Thorpe, famous today as the publisher of
Shakespeare's Sonnets.  For every publishing job, Thorpe had to hire a
printer *and* at least one bookseller (sometimes two).  Thorpe was able
to survive in this way because he had partnerships with several other
stationers (including William Jaggard and William Aspley) and apparently
good connections in both the theatrical world (Ben Jonson came to him
several times, as did George Chapman) and the world of adventurers to
the New World.

For an excellent summary of the stationer's trade, with much more detail
than I've given here, see Peter Blayney's chapter "The Publication of
Playbooks" in *A New History of Early English Drama*, edited by John Cox
and David Scott Kastan., pp. 383-422.

Dave Kathman

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