This lecture series will explore seventeenth-century personal book ownership, looking not only at book acquisition patterns but also investigating motives and collecting cultures. A key theme will be the use of material evidence from books themselves to help to enhance our understanding of seventeenth-century values.
Lists of seventeenth-century private libraries, compiled from the evidence of sales, bookplates, bequests or inventories, tend to be dominated by men, a reflection of societal and legal traditions of the time. We increasingly recognise that women were readers and book owners too, with a growing literature on the subject and some well-known names like Anne Clifford and Frances Wolfreston. This lecture will ask how far we can go beyond those familiar exemplars to build a fuller picture of the extent of female book ownership at that time, and the kinds of books they had.