Print culture was expanding rapidly in the eighteenth century. Yet religious literature remained the largest category of printed book and Dissenters were significant contributors to this genre. From 1695 pre-publication censorship disappeared within England so print was an important mechanism through which Dissenting identity was created and sustained. Religious works could be doctrinal, controversial, or practical and it was the latter category that had the largest lay readership. Material related to Scripture, either translated or paraphrased, accounted for much of the printed religious output but life writing and poetry were also influential. Many of the authors were ministerial and male, although the audiences for which they were writing were more varied. While it is easier to trace the uses to which material designed to educate ministers was put, there were also significant examples of Dissenters using print to fashion a wider sense of community, often through the use of non-commercial publishing models.
Keywords: Anna Letitia Barbauld; biblical paraphrases; John Bunyan; Philip Doddridge; hymnody; Elizabeth Rowe; sermons; Anne Steele; tract societies; Isaac Watts
Chapter. 8667 words.
Subjects: History of Christianity
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