This copy of Beaumont and Fletcher’s A King and No King (1631, STC 1672) was owned and signed by the Oxford woman, Mary (née Pettie) Wood (1602-1667). On the title page of the playbook, Wood writes her name in the margin, the size of her signature announcing the unquestionable ownership of #herbook.
Mary Wood was from a well-respected Oxfordshire family, the daughter of Penelope (née Tavener) and Robert Pettie of Wyfald. In October 1622, she married Thomas Wood, an Oxford graduate and property owner. She had six children, one child dying in infancy. While it is often difficult to discover biographical details about non-aristocratic female book owners, Mary Wood has been the subject of scholarship as the mother of the Oxford antiquarian, Anthony Wood (1632-1695). Scholarly attention to her son’s book collecting has helped bring Mary Wood’s book ownership to the fore.
Anthony Wood’s collection of books and manuscripts were gifted upon his death in 1695 to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, and among his bequest were volumes culled from his mother’s closet after her death. In 1858, the Wood collection was integrated into the Bodleian Library where A King and No King (1631) currently resides with other printed plays and poems, as the eighth item in a seventeenth century sammelband.
In his edition of The Library of Anthony Wood (Oxford Bibliographical Society, 2002), Nicholas K. Kiessling reasons that Anthony signed and dated the manuscript table of contents in Wood 330 in February 1657 while the sammelband was still in his mother’s possession. Upon her death in 1667, Anthony acquired the volume and altered the date (p. 511). Mary Wood’s signature does not appear on any other items in Wood 300.
That Mary Wood was a reader of English vernacular drama and literature is supported by another volume bearing her inscription, also now in the Bodleian Library: George Gascoigne’s Hundreth Sundrie Flowres [1573, STC 11635].
I here highlight Mary Wood’s ownership of English literary texts, but it should be noted that her book collection was certainly more diverse. Kiessling identifies ten more books bearing Mary Wood’s signature. I have compiled basic bibliographical information for these ten items below for ease of reference, but readers should be sure to consult Kiessling’s remarkable bibliography for more on these books and their provenance.
- Stocker, Thomas, trans. [A tragicall historie of the troubles and civile warres of the lowe countries] [1583, STC 17450.3]. Bodleian Library Wood 595. Kiessling 3506.
- John Day, Davids desire to goe to church (1615, STC 6423). Bodleian Library Wood C. 40(1). Kiessling 2192.
- Daniel Featley, Ancila pietatis: or, the hand-maid to private devotion (1626, STC 10726). Bodleian Library Wood 787. Kiessling 2963.
- Francis Seager and Robert Crowley, The schoole of vertue (1635, STC 22138.5). Bodleian Library Wood 792(1). Kiessling 5827.
- Church of England, A forme of common prayer, together with an order of fasting (1636, STC 16553a). Bodleian Library [MS] Wood B. 37(6). Kiessling 2519.
- William Lily, A short introduction to grammar (1636, STC 15632). Bodleian Library Wood 46. Kiessling 4160.
- [John Doughty], The kings cause rationally, briefly, and plainly debated (1640, Wing D1962). Bodleian Library [MS] Wood B. 34. Kiessling 2297.
- J[ohn].B[ulloka]., The English Expositor , or compleat dictionary (1641, Wing B5429). Bodleian Library Wood 34. Kiessling 1179.
- Church of England, A forme of common prayer, to be used upon the solemn fast (1643, Wing C4111). Bodleian Library [MS] Wood B. 37(7). Kiessling 2528.
- Jeremy Taylor and Christopher Hatton, eds. The Psalter of David (1644, Wing B2402). Bodleian Library Wood 811. Kiessling 6138.
Thanks are due to the Bodleian Library for permission to share these images.
If you have more information about Mary Wood’s books in other libraries or collections, I’d love to hear from you. Tweet @TaraLLyons or email firstname.lastname@example.org.