Publish and Perish: The Practice of Censorship in the British Isles in the Early Modern Period

Isabelle Fernandes (Ed.)

by Mark Bland (Independent Scholar), Marie-Celine Daniel (University of Paris-Sorbonne, France), Freddy Dominguez (University of Arkansas, USA), Dominique Goy-Blanquet (Université De Picardie, France), Pierre Kapitaniak (University of Paul Valéry - Montpellier 3, France), Pierre Lurbe (University of Paris-Sorbonne, France), Michael Popelard (University of Caen-Basse Normandie, France), Randy Robertson (Susquehanna University. USA)

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The development of printing practices during Tudor rule led both to the dissemination of religious and secular knowledge, and the development of a legal arsenal to control it. While the vast majority of studies on censorship regard it as being at the origin of the notion of authorship, critics tend to disagree on its actual influence on early modern writings. Who, among the Church and the secular state, were its main supporters? Did it aim at destroying or removing, punishing or protecting, hampering or regulating? Did it propagate a culture of secrecy or, on the contrary, did it help to circulate new ideas and knowledge by controlling them and making them more acceptable to the masses?
If the answers to these questions are bound to differ according to the aesthetic and religious biases of both censors and censored, they all lead to one major point of debate: did censorship really work to stop some marginal threat or did it simply improve the lot of early modern writers who turned its limited negative effects into a comforting shield of self-publicity? By suggesting it suppressed neither artistic creativity nor subversive practices, this volume analyses censorship in Britain and Ireland during the Tudor and Stuart periods as an instrument of regulation, rather than a repressive tool.
Ideal for both graduate students and general readers interested in Early Modern History, the work sheds new light on a topic as fascinating as it is often misunderstood.

List of Illustrations
Notes on Contributors

General Introduction: “The cursory eyes of a temporising and extemporising licenser.” Forms of censorship in early modern England
Isabelle Fernandes
University of Clermont Auvergne, France

Censorship in context: law and the book-trade

1. Social connections and the control of the book-trade
Mark Bland
Independent Scholar

2. The Habermasian Public Sphere Revisited
Randy Robertson
Susquehanna University. USA

Silent censorship: self-censorship, translations and editorial practices

3. The silences of Sir Thomas More
Dominique Goy-Blanquet
Université De Picardie, France

4. Et Ego in utopia: political and scientific censorship in Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis and An Advertisement touching the Controversies of the Church of England
Mickaël Popelard
University of Caen-Basse Normandie, France

5. Pierre Le Loyer’s Treatise of Specters: translation as censorship?
Pierre Kapitaniak
University of Paul Valéry - Montpellier 3, France

6. Translators―willing or unwilling auxiliaries of censorship? A study of a few French pamphlets published in England in the last quarter of the sixteenth century
Marie-Céline Daniel
Sorbonne Université, France

Physical censorship

7. The politics of destroying books: the case of Girolamo Pollini’s Ecclesiastical History of the English Revolution and its English response
Freddy C. Dominguez
University of Arkansas, USA

8. A Dublin auto-da-fe: the public burning of John Toland’s Christianity not Mysterious, 11 September 1697
Pierre Lurbe
Sorbonne Université, France


Isabelle Fernandes has been Associate Professor at Université Clermont Auvergne for 15 years. She specializes in Early Modern British History (from the Tudors to the Stuarts), with a particular focus on religious and political power, its representation and the multiple ways it is enforced and defied. She published a biography of Mary Tudor (Marie Tudor. La Souffrance du Pouvoir) and a work on John Foxe (Le Sang et l’encre. John Foxe et l’écriture du martyre protestant anglais, Presses Universitaires Blaise Pascal), both in 2012, and co-edited A Godly and Fruitfull Sermon preached at Grantham by Francis Trigge, 1595, in 2013. She is currently working on a biography of Mary Stuart and on a collection of essays on martyrdom in early modern Europe.

Janet Clare; Deborah Shuger; Richard Dutton; New Historicism; Circulation Of Knowledge; Circulation Of Book; Protestant Censorship; Roman Censorship

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Bibliographic Information

Book Title

Publish and Perish: The Practice of Censorship in the British Isles in the Early Modern Period





Number of pages


Physical size

236mm x 160mm


4 B&W

Publication date

October 2020