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John Wolfe

(c. 1548—1601) bookseller and printer


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Apprenticed to the London printer J. Day 1562–72, by 1576, Wolfe was in Florence publishing religious poems. Alternating between London and Europe for the next five years, Wolfe had settled by 1581 at Distaff Lane, where he wilfully infringed many printing privileges to publish a large number of works in defiance of a privilege system perceived as unfair; this led to a brief period in prison. However, after years of conflict, Wolfe was eventually reconciled and became acting beadle of the Stationers’ Company in 1587, ironically gaining a reputation in this post for prosecuting illegal printing. By 1593, he was the City's printer, a position he held until his death. A prolific printer, Wolfe was prominent in the production of religious ballads, foreign news, and Italian works (including some by Aretino and Machiavelli), as well as in publishing Spenser and Harvey.

From The Oxford Companion to the Book in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Bibliography.


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