Centre for Urban history

Book Trade Networks

The purpose of this area is to share some resources relevant to research on communities and networks in the British Book Trade, including (but not limited to) the research, funded by the British Academy, by John Hinks at the Centre for Urban History, University of Leicester. General information on his activities as an Honorary Fellow at Leicester, and a list of his publications, may be found here.

Workshops on Communities and Networks in the Book Trade

Three one-day Workshops were held at the Centre for Urban History, University of Leicester.


A selection of material relevant to the topic of book-trade networks and communities. You are very welcome to offer additional material.

  • Book Trade Communities in English Provincial Towns: 1695-1850
    Summary of research aims (John Hinks, 2005)
  • Distributing Catholic Texts in Jacobean England
    Abstract of a conference paper (John Hinks, 2006)
  • Exploring the meaning of 'community' and 'network'
    Introductory talk to first Workshop (John Hinks, 2005)
  • Freedom and Apprenticeship Records as a Source for Book Trade History
    Article from Book Trade History Group Newsletter (John Hinks, 2001)
  • Local and Regional Studies of Printing History: Context and Content
    Article from Journal of the Printing Historical Society (John Hinks, 2003)
  • On the Margins of the Book Trade in Early Modern England
    Abstract of conference paper (John Hinks, 2008)
  • Towards a theory of book-trade networks
    Talk to second Workshop (John Hinks, 2008)

Additional material from the 'Communities and Networks' research

Spatial typology

  • Multi-site trading: fixed shops, market stalls and fairs, itinerant traders
  • Local links: business (economic) community, civic (urban) community, religious community, political community
  • Regional networks
  • National networks

Functional typology

  • Longer-term: families, partnerships, master/apprentice, Stationers’ Company and ‘congers’ (in London), newspaper distribution networks (booksellers and newsmen), networks of pedlars and chapmen (wholesale/retail)
  • Shorter-term: to produce a book, to run a sale

Alternative models

  • Production/distribution
  • Long-term/short-term
  • Production/consumption
  • Urban/rural
  • London/provincial

Research outcomes

  • Outline of theoretical approach
  • Typology of book trade networks
  • Outline of a regional network (Midlands)
  • Case study of radical print networks
  • Agenda for further research

Leicester examples

Civic networks: book-trade mayors of Leicester

  • Francis Ward (bookseller and stationer) 1686
  • Thomas Hartshorne (bookseller) 1705
  • Simon Martin (bookseller) 1728
  • Thomas Martin (Simon’s son, bookseller) 1750
  • John Gregory (printer of the Leicester Journal) 1779
  • George Ireland (bookseller and printer) 1821

Apprentice networks: Leicester apprentices bound to members of the Stationers' Company

  • 1605-1609: 3
  • 1610-1614: 5
  • 1615-1619: 7
  • 1620-1624: 7
  • 1625-1629: 10
  • 1630-1634: 15
  • 1635-1640: 22 (includes 4 printing apprentices)
  • 1641-1700: 83 (including 18 from Borough of Leicester)
  • 1701-1740: 7
  • 1741-1800: 12

(Data extracted from D.F. McKenzie (ed.), Stationers’ Company Apprentices)

Apprentice networks: John Gregory's apprentices and their Midlands links

Family and apprentice networks: Denshires

Family and apprentice networks: Wards

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