Astrology and the Popular Press

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ISBN 9780571241910 Format Paperback
9780571241910
Paperback
Published 29/05/2008 Length 460 pages
460

About Book

Apart from the Bible, almanacs were the most influential and widely dispersed for of literature in Tudor and Stuart England. At their zenith in the later seventeenth century, they sold at a rate of 400,000 copies a year. They were read by many people who read little else, and the works of Shakespeare and Jonson, among others, have numerous references to them. Professor Capp's fascinating book (Faber, 1979) is the first to study their history in depth. It is full of vivid detail, and shows clearly how relevant they were to almost every aspect of life, social, intellectual, religious, political. As well as being a powerful force in revolutionary times, they played a central part in spreading scientific progress and medical learning, and in the development of popular journalism and printing.
Possessing some of the characteristics of both pocket encyclopaedia and sermon, they conveyed information and/or moral commentary on such diverse topics as attitudes to rich and poor, agriculture, gardening, weights and measures, food , drink, sex, sleep, dress, bodily cleanliness, games, fairs, holidays, the weather, the state of the roads, posts, freemasonry, omens, witchcraft, will-making and even the sale of wives - in addition to making dramatic astrological prophecies about the likelihood of plague, famine and war in the year ahead.

Apart from the Bible, almanacs were the most influential and widely dispersed for of literature in Tudor and Stuart England. At their zenith in the later seventeenth century, they sold at a rate of 400,000 copies a year. They were read by many people who read little else, and the works of Shakespeare and Jonson, among others, have numerous references to them. Professor Capp's fascinating book (Faber, 1979) is the first to study their history in depth. It is full of vivid detail, and shows clearly how relevant they were to almost every aspect of life, social, intellectual, religious, political. As well as being a powerful force in revolutionary times, they played a central part in spreading scientific progress and medical learning, and in the development of popular journalism and printing.Possessing some of the characteristics of both pocket encyclopaedia and sermon, they conveyed information and/or moral commentary on such diverse topics as attitudes to rich and poor, agriculture, gardening, weights and measures, food , drink, sex, sleep, dress, bodily cleanliness, games, fairs, holidays, the weather, the state of the roads, posts, freemasonry, omens, witchcraft, will-making and even the sale of wives - in addition to making dramatic astrological prophecies about the likelihood of plague, famine and war in the year ahead.
  • About Bernard Capp

    Bernard Capp is Professor of History at the University of Warwick, where he has taught since 1968. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and the author of five books: The Fifth Monarchy Men (Faber, 1972), Astrology and the Popular Press: English Almanacs 1500-1800 (Faber, 1979); Cromwell's Navy (OUP, 1989), The World of John Taylor the Water-poet (OUP, 1994) and When Gossips Meet: Women, Family and Neighbourhood in Early Modern England (OUP, 2003). He is currently writing England's Culture Wars: Puritan Attempts to Impose Godly Reformation and Discipline on the English People in the Wake of the Civil Wars.

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