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Nicholas Culpeper and the book trade : print and the promotion of vernacular medical knowledge, 1649-65

Sanderson, Jonathan (1999) Nicholas Culpeper and the book trade : print and the promotion of vernacular medical knowledge, 1649-65. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.


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This thesis examines print culture and the medical book trade during the middle decades of the seventeenth century. I examine a range of vernacular medical books which predate the publication of Nicholas Culpeper's (1616-54) translation of the London College of Physicians' first Pharmacopoeia (1618) in 1649. Culpeper's English version subjected the official medical knowledge of the professional to his caustic commentary, and launched his programme to produce 'the whol Moddel of Physick' in the vernacular. At the same time the involvement of the Fellows of the College with the book trade during the Interregnum is explored. Examination of the Stationers' Register reveal that Presidents of the College were prepared to endorse English translations of scholarly books and new works by non-Collegiate authors. Through this Register and the 'Annals' of the College I show how two astute London stationers were able to gain control of the rights to the College's Pharmacopoeia. The social relationships between Culpeper and his publishers are analysed, as well as the network of agents responsible for the production and publication of Culpeper's books and their reception. I focus on Culpeper's four principal works - his two translations of the College's Pharmacopoeia (1649 and 1653); his herbal, The English Physitian (1652); and A Directory for Midwives (1651). Their presentation (typography and page-layout), dissemination, and reception are also explored. Apparent from the early history of Culpeper's medical books is the commercialism of the book trade in the 1650s. Medical practitioners and writers exploited print culture to promote their name in the medical marketplace and create a public persona. I discuss Culpeper's activities as an editor and writer, and the fluidity of these texts in response to commercial threats from rival publishers. The development of his work through subsequent editions counters the assumption that printing preserves and fixes a text's meaning. This thesis argues that historical bibliography is essential for an understanding of a book's reception and influence, and I show how print culture was significant to the promotion of vernacular medicine in these years.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of English (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.543567
Depositing User: Ethos Import
Date Deposited: 10 Jan 2013 13:44
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2013 08:51
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/3264

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