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The Book as Expression of Author, Illustrator, or Editor's Work

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Books reflect an individual's thought at a particular point in time. However publication of a creator's work can be constrained by the laws and customs of the times. In the article What is the History of Books?, Darnton (1982, 67) described the author as the first element in the "communication circuit". He states that a communication circuit runs

"from the author to the publisher (if the bookseller does not assume that role), the printer, the shopper, the bookseller, and the reader. The reader completes the circuit, because he influences the author both before and after the act of composition. Authors are readers themselves. By reading and associating with other readers and writers, they form notions of genre and style and a general sense of the literary enterprise, which affects their texts, whether they are composing Shakespearean sonnets or directions for assembling radio kits."

According to Rose (1993), "the notion of author is a relatively recent formation, and, as a cultural formation, it is inseparable form the commodification of literature. The distinguishing characteristic of the modern author, I propose, is proprietorship; the author is conceived as the originator and therefore the owner of a special kind of commodity, the work."

This section of the course explores the book as an expression of the content creator. Explore each of the following pages in this section.


Adams, John Gavin (2012). Letters to John Law. Newton Page. Preview Available:

Austin, Jane (September 28, 1818). Letter to Anna. Available:

Berg, Keri A. (2007). Contesting the page: the author and the illustrator in France, 1830-1848. Book History, 10, 69-101.

Briquet, Fortunee (1804). Dictionnaire Historique... Gille.

Bronson, Alcott (1877). Table-Talk of A. Bronson Alcott (Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1877), p. 12.

Brown, Cynthia Jane (1995). Poets, Patrons, and Printers: Crisis of Authority in the Late Medieval France. Cornell University Press.

Buchtel, John A. (2004). Book dedications and the death of a patron: the memorial engravings in Chapman's Homer. Book History, 7, 1-29.

Cormack, Bradin & Mazzio, Carla (2005). Book Use, Book Theory: 1500-1700. Available:

Darnton, Robert (Summer 1982). What is the history of books? Daedalus, 111, 65-83.

Faflik, David (2008). Authorship, ownership, and the case for Charles Anderson Chester. Book History, 11, 149-167.

Fulton, Thomas (2010). Historical Milton: Manuscript, Print, and Political Culture in Revolutionary England. University of Massachusetts Press. Preview Available:

Hall, David D. (2008). Ways of Writing: The Practice and Politics of Text-Making in Seventeenth Century New England. University of Pennsylvania Press. Preview Available:

Haynes, Christine (2005). Reassessing "Genius" in studies of authorship: the state of the discipline. Book History, 8, 287-320.

Hesse, Carla (2003). The Other Enlightenment: How French Women Became Modern. Princeton University Press. Preview Available:

Kastan, David Scott (2001). Shakespeare and the Book. Cambridge University Press. Preview Available:

Loewenstein, Joseph (2002). Ben Jonson and Possessive Authorship. Cambridge University Press. Preview Available:

Lommen, Mathieu (ed.) (2012). The Book of Books: 500 Years of Graphic Innovation. Thames & Hudson.

Mahlberg, Gaby M. (2012). Authors losing control: the European transformations of Henry Neville's The Isle of Pines (1668). Book History, 15, 1-25.

Miller, Matt (2007). Composing the first leaves of grass: how Whitman used his early notebooks. Book History, 10, 103-129.

Morison, Stanley & Jackson, Holbrook (1923). A Brief Survey of Printing: History and Practice. Alfred A. Knopf. Available:

Newbury, Michael (1997). Figuring Authorship in Antebellum America. Stanford University Press. Preview Available:

Nicholas, Mary & Ruder, Cynthia A. (2008). In search of the collective author: fact and fiction from the Soviet 1930s. Book History, 11, 221-244.

Patten, Robert L. (1978). Charles Dickens and his Publishers. Clarendon Press.

Rice, Grantland S. (1997). The Transformation of Authorship in America. University of Chicago Press.

Robinson, Solveig C. (2007). "Sir, it is an outrage": George Bentley, Robert Black, and the Condition of the Mid-List Author in Victorian Britain. Book History, 10, 131-168.

Rose, Mark (1993). Authors and Owners: The Invention of Copyright. Harvard University Press. Preview Available:

Saunders, David (1992). Authorship and Copyright, Routledge.

Schuessler, Jennifer (December 25, 2011). The Muses of Insert, Delete and Execute. The New York Times. Available:

Scott, Walter (1825). Lives of the Novelists. Available: Volume 1 and Volume 2

Scott, Walter (1826). Private Journal. Available:

Sutherland, John (1995). Victorian Fiction: Writers, Publishers, Readers. St. Martin's.

Sutherland, John (2012). Lives of Novelists: A History of Fiction in 294 Lives. Yate University Press. Preview Available:

Thorne-Murphy, Leslee (2010). Re-authorship: authoring, editing, and coauthoring the transatlantic publications of Charlotte M. Yonge's Aunt Charlotte's Stories of Bible History. Book History, 13, 80-103.

Wershler-Henry, Darren Sean (2005). The Iron Whim: A Fragmented History of Typewriting. Cornell University Press. Preview Available:

Williams, William Proctor & Abbott, Craig S. (2009). Introduction to Bibliographic & Textual Studies, 4th Edition. Modern Language Association of America.

Zionowski, Linda (2001). Men's Work: Gender, Class, and the Professionalization of Poetry, 1660-1784. Palgrave.

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