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Richard Topcliffe & the Book Culture of the Catholic Underground

Event info:

Wednesday, September 27 4PM-5PM, Carrier 301, Refreshments will be provided, contact: library-special@jmu.edu


Mark Rankin, Roop Distinguished Associate Professor of English, JMU


Richard Topcliffe was the foremost torturer of Roman Catholic priests during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603). This talk offers new evidence of Topcliffe's related activities as a professional reader. Topcliffe confiscated books and manuscripts from his victims, and annotated them for his superiors. He was paid for his work, and his reading assisted prosecutors in securing convictions against these men as traitors. This talk will draw upon nearly twenty surviving documents that contain his marginalia in order to reconstruct the circulation of books among persecuted Catholics. It will also demonstrate the value of special collections located "off the beaten path" to support research in the history of the book, and will offer new insight into the circulation of Nicholas Sander's De origine ac progressu schismatis anglicani (1586), a Catholic history of the English Reformation owned by Carrier Library Special Collections – a copy of which was also annotated by Topcliffe.


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Wednesday, September 27, 2017
4:00pm - 5:00pm
Carrier Library
  Special Collections Speaker Series  

Event Organizer

Ryan Winfree