Reducing these loose papers into this order: A Bibliographical Sociology of The Principall Navigations (1589)
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This thesis takes the first edition of Principall Navigations, Voiages and Discoveries of the English Nation (1589) as its focus. A significant, sixteenth-century printed text and Richard Hakluyt’s major work, it is familiar to scholars of the period. Its rich archival source has aided understanding of early modern geography, English discovery and cultural encounters. It has also been evaluated in relation to Hakluyt’s substantial contribution to the burgeoning literature of vernacular prose and to imperial expansionism. My thesis conceives a social history of the production, transmission and reception of Principall Navigations from bibliographical analysis, an investigative method that has remained largely untapped. In each chapter, I incorporate information drawn from the material text into an appreciation of historical practice and relocate Principall Navigations more precisely in its socio-historical moment. This engages with and, in some cases, destabilizes current critical positions. In the first chapter, I explore the importance of Hakluyt’s patrons. Francis Walsingham’s essential role is recorded through his connection with the various interdependent networks of people involved in the book’s production and Hakluyt’s description of his ‘prescribed limites’. This chapter re-evaluates authorial subjectivity. In chapter two, Walsingham’s authority over the Queen’s printing house generally and the production of Principall Navigations particularly is traced through the examination of the Stationers’ Company archive and the evolution of the office of the royal printer. This chapter contends that Walsingham commanded the production of Principall Navigations. Chapter three represents a bibliographical study which integrates the production of Principall Navigations into the Queen’s printers’ general work patterns and investigates textual variants and paper-stocks. The date of the interpolation of the Drake leaves is posited with reference to the debate concerning their suppression. The final chapter explores the relationship between early modern readers and empirical records, through historical reading practice, and concludes by evaluating the location of discursive authority.
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