Literary Print Culture

The Stationers’ Company Archive, London

Explore the history of printing, publishing and bookselling from 1554 to the 21st century.

The archive of the Stationers’ Company is widely regarded as one of the most important sources for studying the history of the book, publishing and copyright. The Company was instrumental in the development of the printed book in early modern England, exerting enormous power over the publishing industry as it developed. This resource provides essential primary sources for students and scholars of English literature, Renaissance theatre, and print culture from the early modern period to the twentieth century.

The arrival of printing caused a social and cultural revolution in late 15th century Britain. The Stationers’ Company was granted immense power by Royal Charter to control this nascent industry, requiring all works to be licensed and entered into a ‘Book of Copies’, in order to censor seditious and heretical works. The Registers quickly became used by publishers and printers to assert their exclusive rights over their publications, developing the concept of ‘copyright’.

Featuring Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR) for full-text searching:

The Entry Book of Copies, the single most comprehensive record of all printed works registered in England until the mid-nineteenth century, is now enhanced with powerful Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR) search functionality. The registers provide much unique information about literary and dramatic works, especially in the early modern period. Notable entries include Shakespeare’s First Folio, entered on November 8th, 1623. Read more about HTR or watch our demonstration video.

  • The Entry Book of Copies (1554-1842) provide unique information about literary and dramatic works. Notable entries include Shakespeare’s First Folio, entered on November 8th, 1623
  • The Court Records (1602-1982) are an essential source for understanding the workings of the Stationers’ Company and can be used to trace the establishment of book trade practices
  • The English Stock documents (1603-1961) record the activities of the successful publishing arm of the Stationers’ Company which held a monopoly over popular and frequently re‑published works

Key data

Source archive

  • The Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspapers Makers
  • Entry Book Of Copies (Stationers’ Company registers)
  • Constitutional records
  • Court records
  • Membership records
  • Financial records
  • Trade records
  • General administrative records
  • Charities and property records
  • Photographs, ephemera and original architectural plans for Stationers’ hall
  • Ian W Archer, Keble College, University of Oxford
  • Giles Bergel, University of Oxford
  • William S Brockman, Pennsylvania State University
  • John Feather, Loughborough University
  • Ian Gadd, Bath Spa University
  • Nancy A Mace, United States Naval Academy
  • Annette Maria Keogh, University of Auckland
  • David Mckitterick, Trinity College, Cambridge University
  • Robin Myers, Archivist Emeritus, The Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers
  • Tiffany Stern, Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Great Britain, Republic of Ireland and Northern Irish Studies
  • Literature
  • Oral histories
  • Visual galleries
  • Chronology
  • Biographies
  • Online exhibitions
  • Contextual essays
  • Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR) search technology delivering document-level full-text search results across the entry book of copies


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