Reading Practice

The Pursuit of Natural Knowledge from Manuscript to Print

Print Appendices

Appendix A: Appendix B:
Network Analysis Graphs & Gantt Plots

About the Data

In order to identity the 479 editions early printed “practical” books published between 1485 and 1600 analyzed in Reading Practice, I relied heavily on the data I had already collected through analysis of nearly 200 fifteenth-century manuscripts. In my years of reading manuscripts at libraries in the U.S. and U.K., I realized that many of the same categories of useful knowledge reappeared in these collections, over and over again. My familiarity with this manuscript tradition directed my search of the British Library’s online database of the English Short Title Catalogue (, which contains bibliographical data drawn from Katherine Pantzer, et al, eds., A Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England, Scotland, and Ireland, and of English Books Printed Abroad, 1475–1640, 3 vols., Revised and enlarged second edition (London: Bibliographical Society, 1976–1993). Note that the digital ESTC remains inaccessible as of summer 2024, following a cyber attack on the British Library.

My research involved combing through the publication data in the digital ESTC, beginning with the introduction of the press in 1476 and continuing to 1600, first in decade-by-decade searches and then, for the years after 1530, in year-by-year searches for books that fell within any of the following genres:

  • medical recipe collections
  • herbals
  • astrological manuals
  • agricultural treatises
  • anatomies
  • surgeries
  • dietaries or health regimens
  • urinaries
  • books on distillation
  • gardening manuals
  • books on hawking and hunting
  • husbandry manuals
  • veterinary medicine

No doubt I have missed editions in my search; I will continue to update this spreadsheet and welcome feedback from users. However, readers will also note that I did not include books on navigation, metallurgy, or weaponry here, as these categories of “practical” knowledge are not present in the fifteenth-century manuscripts in my corpus.

The spreadsheet below contains the following information on the 479 practical books in my corpus, as printed in the English Short Title Catalogue:

  • Publication date
  • STC number (revised)
  • Standardized short title**
  • Genre of practical knowledge
  • Place of publication
  • Printer
  • Size of edition
  • Author
  • Editor
  • Translator

**A note on titles: Early modern printers saw no reason to use the same title in subsequent re-editions of the same texts, nor were they particularly concerned about consistent spelling. The short titles in this spreadsheet have been loosely standardized to reflect these variations.

Download this dataset as a .csv file here.


About the Print Appendices

With this data from the ESTC in hand, I was able to create both a network analysis (Print Appendix A) illustrating the relationship between London’s printers and popular editions of practical books, as well as several data visualizations (Print Appendix B) that illustrate the most popular genres, most common size, and most prolific printers of practical books in England between 1485–1600.