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John Donne and the Conway Papers

Daniel Starza Smith

Published in print October 2014 | ISBN: 9780199679133
Published online December 2014 | e-ISBN: 9780191802812 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199679133.001.0001
John Donne and the Conway Papers

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  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)
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How and why did men and women send handwritten poetry, drama, and literary prose to their friends and social superiors in seventeenth-century England—and what were the consequences of these communications? Within this culture of manuscript publication, why did John Donne (1572–1631), an author who attempted to limit the circulation of his works, become the most transcribed writer of his age? The book investigates a seventeenth-century archive, the Conway Papers, in order to explain the relationship between Donne and the archive’s owners, the Conway family, important soldiers and statesmen whose lives have never been explored at length. Drawing on considerable amounts of primary material, and situating Donne’s writings within the broader workings of manuscript circulation, the book explains what the Conway Papers are and how they were amassed, why the archive contains so much manuscript literature by Donne and other writers, and what the significance of these facts are, in terms of seventeenth-century politics, patronage, and culture. It offers new information about the Conway family between the accession of Elizabeth I and the Restoration. Throughout, John Donne and the Conway Papers emphasizes the importance of Donne’s closest friends and earliest readers—such as George Garrard, Rowland Woodward, and Sir Henry Goodere—in the dissemination of his poetry. Goodere, in particular, emerges as a key agent in the early circulation of Donne’s verse, and this book offers the first sustained account of his literary activities. The book also advances new arguments about Thomas Middleton’s A Game at Chess and numerous texts by Ben Jonson.

Keywords: John Donne; Edward Conway; John Conway; Conway Papers; manuscripts; Ben Jonson; Thomas Middleton; Henry Goodere; patronage; literature

Book.  416 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800) ; Literary Studies (Fiction, Novelists, and Prose Writers)

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Table of Contents

Introduction in John Donne and the Conway Papers

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The Knight’s Move in John Donne and the Conway Papers

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Fide et Amore in John Donne and the Conway Papers

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Donne’s Verse Letters in John Donne and the Conway Papers

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