Edmund Waller, Poems, &c. Written upon Several Occasions, and to Several Persons (1693) / The Second Part of Mr. Waller’s Poems (1690)


Mary Harris’s inscription in a sammelband copy of Edmund Waller’s poems is a reminder that contemporary bindings and endleaves can be critical in preserving information about early women’s book ownership. Had the book been rebound over the centuries like countless others, the record of Mary Harris’s ownership would have been lost. The book is comprised of the sixth edition of Waller’s poems and a 1690 edition of The Second Part of Mr. Waller’s Poems.

Source: Book offered for sale by Centralantikvariatet, 1/7/19. Images used with permission.

Francis Quarles, Divine Fancies (1632)

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An imperfect first edition of Francis Quarles’ highly popular Divine Fancies with a substitute 1638 title page from another copy. The book is elaborately signed on Q4v “Elizabeth Felgate Owes This Book 1704.”

Source: Book offered for sale on eBay by trackntree.com, 12/12/2018. Images used with permission.

George Sandys, Ovid’s Metamorphosis Englished (1626)

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This is not only a famous first edition of George Sandys’s translation of Ovid, but also a printed book that is particularly rich in signatures, mostly on the empty back pages, with a number of signatures by Elizabeth Staples in different handwriting and with different flourishes (perhaps by different women with the same name even), one of which is dated 1684 and another 1683. There is also a signature by a woman named Anna Hickman.

Source: Book sold on eBay by Wisdom Pedlars. Twitter post @wisdompedlars, 11/14/18. Reproduced with permission.

Katherine Philips, Poems (1667)

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This is an example of a female-authored book owned by a woman. Hannah Flatman inscribed the book with her name in 1674. Who she was is uncertain. A 1921 thesis by Frederic Antony Child describes her as the wife to Thomas Flatman, an English poet and painter of miniatures, in 1672. Child says that her maiden name was Hannah Carpenter, and that she is listed as Flatman’s widow in 1689 probate courts. John Murdoch writes in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, however, that Flatman was married to a woman named Suzanna, in which case Hannah may have been a relative. Flatman himself had written a poem for the edition of Philips so this book must have been especially important to the family. He died in 1688; I have not found dates for Hannah or more information about her.

Self-Portrait by Thomas Flatman, circa 1660
NPG 1051. Copyright National Portrait Gallery.

Source: Title page from EEBO, Wing P2033, Duke University Library (Folger doesn’t include title page for Luna 134104). Signature page Folger Shakespeare Library Luna 134104. https://luna.folger.edu/luna/servlet/s/7ljy74.

“Flatman, Thomas (1635-1688),” by John Murdoch, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2010, https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/9675.