Article

Readership and Reception

Felicity Heal

in The Oxford Handbook of Holinshed's Chronicles

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199565757
Published online January 2013 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199565757.013.0021

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

 Readership and Reception

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This chapter attempts to piece together the fragmentary evidence of the readership and reception of the two editions of the Chronicles, suggesting that while the possession of the books did not guarantee its use, one or the other edition of Holinshed must have been owned quite widely. The incomplete modern record provided by the English Short Title Catalogue records ninety-six examples of the variants of the 1577 edition (or one of its volumes) and almost exactly the same number for the whole or parts of the 1587. Early inventories, book lists, and donation and ownership notes show that the status and type of those holding texts was socially diverse. The chapter then examines the evidence for so-called ‘goal-orientated’ readers: (i) those seeking political understanding from the study of the past; (ii) polemicists who used the text as a source of debate, or as an argument to challenge; and (iii) the ‘studious in histories’, for whom Holinshed would be a research tool.

Keywords: Chronicles; readers; writers

Article.  8705 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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