'Grossly material things': women and book production in Early Modern England

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Winner of the DeLong SHARP Book Prize, 2013, and the Roland H. Bainton Literature Prize, 2013

Sample of reviews:
"This ambitious, well-researched, and timely study sets out to revise our understanding not only of early modern women's roles in book production (as its subtitle promises) but also of their myriad contributions to the entire communications circuit, including the commissioning, manufacture,distribution, and consumption of print publications in England, and between England and the Continent. ... It will be of interest to a wide array of readers including, but not limited to, specialists in book history."
- Natasha Korda, Journal of British Studies

"Helen Smith's Grossly Material Things is a fascinating, insightful, superbly
researched book on the contributions women made to manuscript and book production in the Early Modern period. Anyone interested in the history of reading or of the book will learn a great deal from her investigation. ... The great strength of her work is to refocus our attention on the web of gendered relations in writing, translating, patronizing, publishing and reading in this period."
- Tom Rooney, Early Modern Literary Studies

"Helen Smith's fascinating Grossly Material Things opens an important window onto the basic circumstances of the Renaissance printing house and sheds new light on the significant roles women played in early modern England's print marketplace ... Combining elegant writing with an abundance of useful details, Smith's study demands that we pay greater attention to the colophons of our favorite Renaissance books .... When others explore the role of women in the production of books in other markets, those scholars would do well to take Helen Smith's book as a model."
- Andrew Fleck, Renaissance Quarterly

Helen Smith’s exciting new book ... documents the extensive participation and co-creation of women across a wide spectrum of activities related to the material book. ...  Smith’s up-to-date understanding of the collaborative nature of authorship allows her to reconceptualize a number of women’s activities. ... Smith’s most innovative chapter in this brilliant book is the last, on the materiality of women’s reading."
- Leah Marcus, SEL Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900

"Far from mere handmaids to their more accomplished male contemporaries, the early modern women who people this extraordinary book are revealed not only as patrons, printers, and translators of male-authored works, but also as stationers, chapwomen, and active readers who shape those works' very meanings. A welcome corrective to the familiar emphasis on prescriptive literature, Smith's work immerses us in the dirty, noisy world of early modern England where men and women jostled for position in the burgeoning economy of London and beyond."
- Christina Luckyj, Early Theatre

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages272
ISBN (Print)978-0-19-965158-0
Publication statusPublished - 18 Aug 2012

Cite this