Manuscript Pamphleteering in Early Stuart England is an AHRC-funded project that will map a large but little-known corpus of handwritten political pamphlets that were composed in England between the Stuart accession (1603) and the outbreak of Civil War (1642).

About the Project

Folger Shakespeare Library, V.b.234.

Folger Shakespeare Library, V.b.234.
Folger Shakespeare Library under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license.

Before the outbreak of Civil War in 1642, England developed a large, influential and often radical pamphlet literature. Speeches, learned briefs, and scaffold apologies joined character assassinations, secret histories and conspiracy theories in a jumbled literary underground. Pamphlets were produced commercially and informally and circulated across the kingdom; they fascinated readers and influenced events. Large numbers of copies survive - probably in the tens of thousands - suggesting a significant readership. Nevertheless, this pamphlet literature is rarely mentioned and even more rarely analyzed by historians or literary critics, not least because it was written by hand rather than printed with movable type.

This project aims to survey the vast hidden archive of early Stuart England's manuscript pamphlets. In collaboration with the British Library, this project will construct a database of manuscript pamphlet texts, bibliographic information, and digital images. This will allow users to search transcriptions of the pamphlets; analyze the distribution of copies through time and space; and see how such materials were presented: large and small, elaborate and plain, professional and amateur. The project will conduct additional research in the private papers of Francis Russell, fourth earl of Bedford, who was a major political figure of the early Stuart era as well as a reader and collector of manuscript pamphlets.

The research has three main purposes. First, the project team and associated researchers will use the database to ask and answer fundamental questions about the content of early Stuart political ideas, the genres in which they were expressed, and the circulation of those ideas through the kingdom. Second, the studies produced by the project and the underlying dataset will be useful to historians, literary critics and scholars of political thought, providing a major new set of sources and a useful new set of research tools. Third, the project will prove useful to non-academic beneficiaries. Events at local archives, undertaken with the advice of the British Library, will raise the profile of the resource, and assist such archives and their users in capitalizing on manuscript pamphlets within their own collection; further, working in partnership with the Historical Association, the project will convene a Bristol-based group of secondary school teachers to help build a teaching resource for use in A-Level teaching, which will be available on the website and promoted by the Historical Association.

Project Team

Noah Millstone (University of Birmingham) – Principal Investigator

Noah Millstone is a Birmingham Fellow in the Department of History at the University of Birmingham. Prior to coming to Birmingham, Millstone received a Ph.D. from Stanford University, held a Prize Fellowship in Economics, History and Politics at Harvard University, and was a lecturer in history at the University of Bristol. His first book, Manuscript Circulation and the Invention of Politics in Early Stuart England, was published in 2016.

Sebastiaan Verweij (University of Bristol) – Co-Investigator

Sebastiaan Verweij is Lecturer in Late Medieval and Early Modern Literature at the Department of English at the University of Bristol. He was previously a researcher for Scriptorium: Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts Online, and The Oxford Edition of the Sermons of John Donne. His first book The Literary Culture of Early Modern Scotland: Manuscript Production and Transmission, 1560-1625 (Oxford University Press, 2016) has won the Saltire Society's 'Scottish Research Book of the Year 2016' award. He is also currently at work, with Professor Peter McCullough, on the Textual Companion volume in The Oxford Edition of the Sermons of John Donne. For further info see http://research-information.bristol.ac.uk/person/s.verweij.

Richard Bell (University of Birmingham) – Research Associate

Richard Bell is a Research Associate in the Department of History at the University of Birmingham. He recently completed his Ph.D. at Stanford University on the politics of imprisonment for debt in seventeenth-century London and was a 2016-17 Scouloudi Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research in London.

Mike Jones (University of Bristol) – Developer

Mike Jones has over eighteen years’ experience of software development, working with numerous software languages, frameworks, open standards and metadata standards. He has expertise and knowledge of Python and Java development, XML technologies, and web and mobile development. Since joining the University of Bristol in 2006 Mike has worked on a large number of externally funded projects, including the AHRC-funded Know Your Bristol On the Move and Outstories projects

Jon Hallett (University of Bristol) – Systems Administrator

Jon Hallett is the systems administrator for the Research IT team at the University of Bristol. He has worked in university IT for over twenty years and in that time has administered the full stack of technologies in use in higher education, from patch cables to departmental IT infrastructure to critical corporate systems. His skills include Puppet, Python, Perl, Unix, databases and networking.

Senior Advisory Committee

  • Richard Cust (University of Birmingham)
  • Jason Peacey (University College London)
  • Andrew McRae (University of Exeter)
  • Alexandra Walsham (University of Cambridge)

Advisory Board

  • Hugh Adlington (University of Birmingham)
  • Alastair Bellany (Rutgers University)
  • Lloyd Bowen (Cardiff University)
  • Christopher Burlinson (Jesus College, Cambridge)
  • David Coast (Bath Spa University)
  • Thomas Cogswell (University of California Riverside)
  • David Como (Stanford University))
  • Paul Dingman (Folger Shakespeare Library)
  • Joshua Eckhardt (Virginia Commonwealth University)
  • Ann Hughes (Emeritus, Keele University)
  • Jonathan Gibson (Open University)
  • Chris Kyle (Syracuse University)
  • Peter Lake (Vanderbilt University)
  • Arthur F. Marotti (Emeritus, Wayne State University)
  • Steven W. May (Adjunct Professor, Emory University)
  • Julia Merritt (University of Nottingham)
  • Anthony Milton (University of Sheffield)
  • Rupali Mishra (Auburn University)
  • Michael Questier (Queen Mary University)
  • Daniel Starza-Smith (King's College London)
  • Laura Stewart (University of York)
  • Angus Vine (University of Stirling)
  • Alison Wiggins (University of Glasgow)
  • Heather Wolfe (Folger Shakespeare Library)
  • Henry Woudhuysen (Lincoln College, Oxford)