By J. Daybell
The 1st significant socio-cultural research of manuscript letters and letter-writing practices in early glossy England. Daybell examines a vital interval within the improvement of the English vernacular letter sooner than Charles I's postal reforms in 1635, one who witnessed an important extension of letter-writing abilities all through society.
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Additional resources for The Material Letter in Early Modern England: Manuscript Letters and the Culture and Practices of Letter-Writing, 1512–1635
Being based in one place whether it be in a merchant’s business, an ambassador’s residence, a government department or secretariat, a college room, or in an aristocratic household permitted a degree of regularity in letterwriting. Materials were easily to hand, mechanisms for delivery could be set up, and correspondence more easily stored. Itinerancy and travel brought their own peculiarities, although portable writing desks facilitated the writing of letters on the move. When the monarch was on royal progress, special temporary postal routes were set up in advance to keep open communications with officials in London.
The art of letter-writing also required skills of penmanship and orthography, knowledge of epistolary rules and rhetorical theory. Correspondents needed to know how to address, date and sign a letter. It was also important to understand the social meanings attached to the material aspects of letters, the size of paper used, the type of handwriting, the protocols of layout, blank space and the manuscript page, how a letter was folded and the significance of features of seals. Likewise, the sending of correspondence necessitated some degree of knowledge of postal conditions, of social and spatial geography, of 28 The Material Letter in Early Modern England correspondence networks and even sometimes the intricate workings of manuscript networks.
Approaching manuscripts and printed books as physical artefacts they have examined the significance of watermarks, bindings, seals and handwriting; analysed the spacial features and design of texts, the layout of the manuscript and printed page, and the importance of script, typeface and blank or white space, as well as the social signs, codes and cues inscribed within texts. Printed books, it has been shown, have their own bibliographic rhetoric, while manuscripts contain social signals that are textually embedded within material forms, such as handwriting and layout.
The Material Letter in Early Modern England: Manuscript Letters and the Culture and Practices of Letter-Writing, 1512–1635 by J. Daybell