The Whole Book of Psalms (1629)

One publication which reliably contains the early ownership inscriptions of women is The Book of Psalms.

This edition of 1629 was once owned by Mary Crosse, who left an inscription on the verso of a rear flyleaf: “Mary Crosse / Mary Crosse / Her Booke / 1678.” Though the Bible and The Book of Psalms fell solidly within the confines of acceptable reading for women in a century where anxieties about the suitability of certain genres (e.g. literature) for the female sex still lingered, scholars like Femke Molekamp have shown that even prominent religious works encouraged women to come to their own interpretations and produce their own texts.

A surname (or possibly a place name) in an apparently later hand appears at the head of the title page. The book is bound in olive morocco and features a gilt medallion on each board, nestled within gilt-tooled borders. If this binding is contemporary to her signature, we might conclude that Mary had some measure of money at her disposal and that it was an important text to her. Otherwise, there are no clues about who Mary was.

Source: Book offered for sale by James Cummins Bookseller in February 2022. Images used with permission.

Further Reading

Femke Molekamp. “Early Modern Women and Affective Devotional Reading,” European Review of History: Revue européenne d’histoire 17:1 (2010), 53-74. DOI: 10.1080/13507480903511926

Femke Molekamp. Women and the Bible in Early Modern England: Religious Reading and Writing. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.

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