Jasper Mayne, Part of Lucian Made English from the Originall (1664)




This calf-bound copy of Part of Lucian Made English from the Originall, translated by Jasper Mayne, contains several inscriptions from the same female owner. The first—”Elizabeth Mallory Her Booke (1694)”—is written upside-down on the frontispiece verso. The rear recto flyleaf has a similar inscription, and a third inscription reads “Eliz: Welles Her Booke” in what appears to be the same hand. Beneath, Elizabeth has written a line of verse: “One minnit gives Invention to Destroey / Whatt to Rebuild would A whole Age Imploy.” Says bookseller Charlie Unsworth, “This comes from William Congreve’s play The Double-Dealer, which was first produced at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in November or December of 1693 and first appeared in print the following year.” Congreve’s play was reprinted in over a dozen editions between 1694 and 1791, so it would be interesting to see if any of the surviving copies have Welles’s inscription!

The book also contains the early inscriptions of Thomas Hartopp and Ralph Welles, and the bookplate of Charles Whibley (1859–1930), a writer and acquaintance of T.S. Eliot.

Source: Book offered for sale on AbeBooks by Unsworth’s Antiquarian Booksellers, 12/13/2018. Images used with permission.

John Gauden, Eikōn Basilikē: The Pourtraiture of His Sacred Maiesty in His Solitudes and Sufferings (1649)


Charles I was long since executed and his son Charles II dead of apoplexy when Anna Vyvyan signed a copy of the popular Eikon Basilike, with its iconic frontispiece of  a Christlike Charles I kneeling, looking toward the heavens, and gripping a crown of thorns. In fact, Queen Anne was probably already on the throne by the time Vyvyan wrote “Anna Vyvyan her Book 170[…?] & Hand & Pen” on one of the flyleaves. Vyvyan’s ownership of the book could be related to her family background; she was probably a member of the Royalist Vyvyan family of Trelowarren in Cornwall. The Vyvyans were such staunch supporters of the King that they were given a replica of the Anthony van Dyck portrait of Charles I on horseback, which still hangs in the family estate [1].


[1] Coate, M. “The Vyvyan Family of Trelowarren.” Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 32 (1950): 117. doi:10.2307/3678480.

Source: Book offered for sale by Rootenberg Rare Books, 5/31/19. Images used with permission.

Trotti de La Chétardie, Instructions for a Young Nobleman, or, The Idea of a Person of Honour (1683)


This 1683 English translation of Trotti de La Chétardie’s conduct book for young noblemen is inscribed not by a man, but by Sarah Walcot, whose ownership inscription on the book’s front blank leaf appears to date from the 18th century. There is also an inscription from a Sarah Walcot in The Folger Shakespeare Library’s copy of A Helpe to Discourse, or, A Miscelany of Seriousnesse with Merriment (1631, STC 1551.35), though it is not clear whether the two individuals are the same.


The bookseller “S. Magnes” in the imprint of Instructions for a Young Nobleman is Susanna Magnes, about whom little is known.

Source: Book offered for sale by Bernard Quaritch, 1/4/19. Images used with permission.

Hester Chapone, Miscellanies in Prose and Verse (1777)



by Eileen A. Horansky

The Lewis Walpole Library (LWL) copy of Hester Chapone’s Miscellanies in Prose and Verse (LWL 53 C365 775c) features unique evidence of book ownership and reading practices in the late eighteenth century. Hester Chapone was known as an author of conduct books, a genre that grew increasingly popular as instructional material for the edification of young women in the latter half of the eighteenth century. Following the death of her husband in 1760, Chapone had turned to writing to support herself. With the encouragement of her friend and fellow Bluestocking Elizabeth Montague, as Rhoda Zuk writes in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Chapone went on to publish Letters on the Improvement of the Mind in 1773, a series of letters to her niece on the subject of education, followed by Miscellanies in Prose and Verse, a collection of essays and other writings, in 1775.

The LWL copy is the third edition of Miscellanies, published with the newly appended A Letter to a New-Married Lady in 1777. It is inscribed “Catherine Tollet, her book, bought with her own money” on the front free endpaper. This brief inscription offers few clues as to the identity of Catherine Tollet. My preliminary research uncovered a woman named Catherine Craddock who married Charles Tollet of Betley Hall in Staffordshire around 1760, had two children (a son, Charles, and a daughter, Catherine, both of whom died young), and died around 1808. However, with no evidence other than a common name linking the Catherine Tollet of Betley Hall to the woman who inscribed this book, the actual identity of Catherine Tollet is merely speculation. Regardless of her identity, the Catherine who owned this book was clearly in possession of some financial means, whether through generational wealth or her own industry, and thus had some agency in her reading choices and the books she could acquire.

The LWL copy of Miscellanies in Prose and Verse also contains unique physical evidence of how the text was read. Besides Catherine Tollet’s inscription, there is evidence of the use of pins as markers throughout the text itself. Although the original pins are not present, the holes created by the pins are still quite distinct. The use of pins as aids in the reading, editing, and even repairing of books and manuscripts is a well-documented practice throughout the early modern period.

Although Chapone was known for her (at the time) unconventional attitudes towards the education of women and female relationships, the ownership marks and other evidence present in this volume provide interesting and important context for how female readers interacted with books in the late eighteenth century.


Hester Chapone, Miscellanies in prose and verse (1777). Held at Yale University, Lewis Walpole Library. http://hdl.handle.net/10079/bibid/1736162

“Chapone [née Mulso], Hester (1727–1801),” by Rhoda Zuk, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/5128

A History of the County of Staffordshire: Volume XI: Audley, Keele and Trentham. Edited by Nigel J. Trigham,  Boydell and Brewer, 2013.

Photos by Eileen A. Horansky, reproduced with permission.

Sir Hugh Plat’s Delights for Ladies (1617) and Closet for Ladies (1618)

This remarkable hand-sized limp vellum sammelband (BEIN 2005 970) bears the signatures of four early female bookowners (Ellenor Hatcher, Rachel Dando, Rachel Wilson, Sarah Baylie) and records payment to a fifth woman (Mistress Carter).

The volume contains two texts by Sir Hugh Plat that targeted early modern “Ladies” in their titles. Both published by Arthur Johnson, the books were likely marketed or sold as a set. The two titles offered recipes and directions for cooking, distilling, preserving, canning, and treating illnesses with physic:

1) Delights for ladies to adorne their persons, tables, closets, and distillatories: with beauties, banquets, perfumes, and waters. At London: Printed by H[umfrey].L[ownes]. and are to be sould by Arthur Iohnson, 1617. (12°) STC 19983.3. Second edition.

2) A closet for ladies and gentlevvomen, or, The art of preserving, conserving and candying: with the manner how to make diverse kindes of syrupes and all kinde of banquetting stuffes: also divers soveraigne medicines and salues for sundry diseases. London: Printed for Arthur Iohnson dvvelling neare the great North dore of Paules, 1618. (8°) STC 5436.3. Fourth edition.

BindingAll Photographs by Tara L. Lyons

This limp vellum binding is stamped with an angel ornament, the scroll in its hands announcing “Gloria Deo.” The stamp appears on both covers, and all ornaments and roll lines were originally in gilt.

The binding is contemporary with the two Plat editions, and it bears striking resemblance to volumes in three seventeenth century travelling libraries commissioned by William Hakewill. Books in these elegant sets (given as gifts between 1615-1618) were bound in limp vellum, and the binder appears to have used the same or a similar angel ornament tool on select volumes. While Plat’s Delights (1617) and A Closet (1618) were not recorded as titles in any of the early travelling libraries, it seems likely this volume was bound in the same shop or by a binder with access to similar tools.

See images of the Traveling Library from 1617/8 in the Brotherton Leeds University Special Collections here. The other travelling libraries that use the same or similar binding tools are located in the British Library and Toledo Museum of Art. For more on the binding of volumes in the travelling libraries, see Howard M. Nixon and William A. Jackson, “English Seventeenth-Century Travelling Libraries,” Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society 7.3 (1979): 294-312.

Women’s Signatures

The first signature in the volume appears on the inner cover. It is signed by “Ellenor Hatcher” and dated “1666”.

Inner cover: “Ellenor / Hatcher / her Booke/ 1666”

The second autograph appears on the verso of the title page. It is signed, “Rachel / Dando her book”.

Delights for Ladies, A1v: “Rachel / Dando her book”

Rachel Dando signed her name again on the volume’s final recto endleaf. On the previous verso, one can also make out “Joh” and “John” amid other scribbling.

Endleaf recto: “Rachel Dando/ Her Book”

The third and fourth signatures appear on the final pages of Delights (1617). On the left, Rachel Wilson marks it as “her Book” and on the right, “Sarah Baylie” indicates “her hand”.

Delights for Ladies (1617)

“Rachel / Wilson her / Book” (H11v) “Sarah Baylie / her / hand” (H12r)

The last annotations in the volume, appearing after A Closet (1618) on a final endleaf , records a payment to a “Mrs Carter” and possibly another to the same person or perhaps her husband, “Mr Carter.” The writer indicates that “forteen penc” and “t[w]o shaelings” have been “lad out” in letters. The phrase, “in letters” (or “in leter” in the second note), is ambiguous. It could mean that the payments were sent by letter, or it could record payments for carriage of letters. If “letters” means “books,” perhaps the notes documents the purchase of more little volumes like this!

The hand here, particularly with the letter “t”, looks similar to that of Ellenor Hatcher. Whether or not it’s her writing, this interesting little volume packs in a wealth of evidence of women’s engagement and use of “her book”.

“lad out for Mrs / Carter forten penc / in letters”

“lad out for / Mr[s?] Carter / to shaelings in / leter”


Special thanks to the Beinecke Library, Yale University, for permission to photograph and post on this unique volume. See the Catalogue entry for BEIN 2005 970 at http://hdl.handle.net/10079/bibid/7037566


Dorothy Leigh, The Mother’s Blessing (1640)


By Emily Fine

This 1640 edition of Dorothy Leigh’s popular book The Mothers Blessing contains the names Elizabeth Bewe and Thomas Bewe, as well as two short inscriptions by Elizabeth that identify the book as her own. The first inscription, on the verso side of the title page, reads, “Elizabeth Bewe is my name and with my pen I wrote the Same an if my pen had been better I had write every letter.” The second inscription states “Elizabeth Bewe her Booke God Give Grace therin to looke and when the bell for her doth toll Lord Jesus Christ Receve her Soule Amen” (A6r).

Source: Dorothy Leigh, The Mothers Blessing (1640). STC 15408, title page verso, A6r, M11v, and M12v. Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, DC. Photographed by Emily Fine.

Aristotle, Operum… philosophorum omnium longè principis noua editio, Graecè & Latiné, ed. Isaac Casaubon (Geneva, 1590)

Micha Lazarus, Trinity College, University of Cambridge


Not a female owner, but a remarkable inscription in memory of a remarkable woman. Mildred Cecil, Lady Burghley (1526-1589) was the second wife of William Cecil – probably the most powerful and certainly the longest serving of Elizabeth’s ministers. Mildred’s father, Sir Anthony Cooke, gave his daughters an even better humanist education than his sons. The Cooke sisters were true intellectual aristocracy. Mildred was renowned for her Greek, which she was reputed to speak as fluently as English. She translated several works, including a sermon by St Basil; on one occasion she praised the hospitality of St John’s College, Cambridge (which William Cecil had attended) by writing the fellows a letter in Greek.

She used her standing to gather around her a strong intellectual community, and built up one of England’s finest private scholarly libraries. After her death on 4 April, 1589, some of her books were distributed, as she had ordered, to Christ Church in Oxford, St John’s in Cambridge, and Westminster school. Other books of hers survive at Hatfield House, including some she had acquired from Roger Ascham and his circle of Cambridge humanists.

Mildred Cecil didn’t live to see Isaac Casaubon’s great volume of Aristotle’s complete works, the first bilingual edition to be published. But this copy bears her name nonetheless. The title page is inscribed:

Ex dono Gulielmi Caecilij Baronis
Burghlei ob memoriam Mildredae
vxoris defunctae

[‘A gift of William Cecil, Baron Burghley, in memory of his deceased wife Mildred’]

The title page also bears an old shelfmark, ‘F.4.1’, and a few other inscriptions, none of which can be traced with certainty: Deus prouidebit [‘God will provide’], Alienum est omne quicquid optando uenit [‘Everything that comes [to you] by your own wish is not your own’, from Seneca’s Epistles 8], and in Greek, μητὲ μέλι μητὲ μελίσσας ἀνεὺ πόνου [‘neither honey nor bees without labour’, adapted from Sappho, fragment 113, which became proverbial]. Nor can we be sure who received the gift. Doubtless it was given to an institution, but mottoes of this kind are normally the work of individuals rather than libraries.

The volume was printed in March 1590, so it must have been donated at least a year after Mildred passed away. Two other books, now at Trinity and Sidney Sussex colleges in Cambridge, have bookplates that show they were likewise donated by Cecil in her memory. He must have kept making donations in his wife’s name for a year or two.

Cecil was devastated by Mildred’s death; he arranged a lavish funeral for her featuring more than 300 mourners, and wrote a moving epitaph at Westminster Abbey. Perhaps Casaubon’s magnificent new Graeco-Latin Aristotle was another collegiate purchase, enabled by gifts Cecil left them to continue Mildred’s lifelong support of classical scholarship. No less than her funeral, Cecil would have seen this magnificent edition as testament to her learning as well as the ‘harty love which I did beare hir, with whom I lyved in the state of matrimony forty and tow yers contynually without any unkyndnes’.

Source: Harvard, Houghton Library, shelfmark f *56-1812. Photographs by Micha Lazarus.


Allen, Gemma, The Cooke Sisters: Education, Piety and Politics in Early Modern England (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013).

Bowden, Caroline, ‘The Library of Mildred Cooke Cecil, Lady Burghley’, in Ashgate Critical Essays on Women Writers in England, 1550-1700, Volume 1: Early Tudor Women Writers, ed. Elaine V. Beilin (Farnham, 2009), 399-425.

Croft, Pauline, ‘Mildred, Lady Burghley: The Matriarch’, in Patronage, Culture and Power: The Early Cecils, ed. Pauline Croft (New Haven, London, 2002), 283-300.

Selwyn, Pamela, ‘An Armorial Binding of William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley’, in The Founders’ Library, University of Wales, Lampeter: Bibliographical and Contextual Studies: Essays in Memory of Robin Rider, ed. William Marx, Trivium, 29-30 (Lampeter, 1997), 65-78.