When “nothing” goes missing

As promised, the full version of the paper I recently presented at the Society for Textual Scholarship conference is linked below. I’ve revised it slightly, both in response to the wonderful feedback I received at the conference and to make it more readable, as it was originally intended to be heard. Please forgive the clunky documentation; I believe it is complete, but, as so often happens with conference papers, it is rather ungraceful.

When “Nothing” Goes Missing: The Impotent Censorship of Helkiah Crooke’s Mikrokosmographia

Although I don’t have immediate plans for this piece, questions of censorship will certainly continue to be a part of my general inquiry into Crooke’s book, and I welcome further insights/questions, etc. As soon as I find time, I’ll be following up on Whitney Trettien‘s excellent suggestion to take a look at some anatomical flapbooks, such as the Hardin Library’s Johann Remmelin’s Catoptrum microcosmicum (1619) here at the University of Iowa that Whitney has blogged about.

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Crooke and censorship

My upcoming paper for the Society for Textual Scholarship conference meeting in Chicago, March 6-8, has afforded me the opportunity to return to one of the most intriguing mysteries surrounding Mikrokosmographia and, in doing so, I’ve be able to clarify some crucial information about editions and issues of this book. To summarize the issue I’m pursuing, let me quote from my abstract:

In 1612, William Jaggard, who would later print the first folio of Shakespeare’s works, required medical treatment for syphilis. He was seen by London physician Helkiah Crooke, and although the treatment was apparently unsuccessful (Jaggard later went blind from his illness), the two men struck up an ongoing relationship. For some time Jaggard, whose father was a barber-surgeon, had been considering publishing a medical volume, and he decided to take on Crooke’s own anatomy project, Mikrokosmographia: A Description of the Body of Man, a compendium of continental anatomy knowledge that Crooke hoped would forefront the development of more advanced dissection practices in England. The first edition was published in 1615.

However, copies of Crooke’s manuscript were in circulation as early as the summer of 1614, as evidenced by the scandal it created; Crooke’s book included a full description of the female reproductive system, and it was written in the vernacular. The first fact raised the ire of the Bishop of London, the second the objections of the College of Physicians, of which Crooke was a member. The church found the illustrations and description of the female body immoral, while the physicians protested the dissemination of their specialized professional knowledge to a broad audience. To add insult to injury, Crooke dedicated his book to the city’s other group of medical professionals, the barber-surgeons. While the physicians were university-educated members of the upper class, the barber-surgeons trained by apprenticeship with little or no formal schooling.

The printing of the anatomy was a substantial project; Crooke writes in his “Praeface to the Chyrurgeons” that he had to limit the book’s size because, at just over 1,000 pages, it had grown “too chargeable for the printer.” It seems clear that both author and publisher had much to lose, and the protests regarding Mikrokosmographia were adamant. The church demanded that the College reign in its errant member; the College called for Crooke to appear before them, and when he failed to show, they in turn called for Jaggard; his wife appeared in the blind printer’s place. The College threatened that if the offending sections (Books Four and Five) were not removed from the book, they would burn all copies of the volume upon publication.

Despite all this, Crooke and Jaggard printed the book in its original form. Astonishingly, there were no repercussions.

What adds further intrigue to what turned out to be apparently empty threats from the Bishop of London and College of Physicians is that the second edition of Crooke’s book, first published in 1631 while Crooke was still alive and well but by a different publisher (as Jaggard had died in 1623), was censored to some extent. The main alteration I am focusing on is one of the offending illustrations, that of an anatomized woman’s torso, sans head, sans arms, sans legs… but not sans everything. In the first edition of Mikrokosmographia (printed 1615, 1616, and 1618), the illustration includes detailed depiction of the vaginal cleft. In the second edition (printed 1631 and 1651), the anatomical detail in that area of the woodblock has been obliterated.

I first reported on this difference back in October 2012 when I first viewed a later copy at the University of Washington while at a conference in Seattle. I have since been able to view four additional copies of the book at the University of Chicago: a 1615, 1616, 1641, and 1651 (in addition to a 1634 copy of Alexander Read’s cross-indexed 8vo epitome). Mr. Ronald Sims of the Galter Health Sciences Library at Northwestern University kindly inspected their 1618 and 1631 copies for me yesterday. (I’m headed to Madison to visit special collections at the University of Wisconsin tomorrow to see their 1631 and 1651 copies.)

All of this observation has enabled me to confirm what I suspected from EEBO images—that the first edition of the book, the three issues of which were all printed by William Jaggard, features the illustration in its fully detailed form, while the second and third editions, printed by Richard Cotes, reflect the alteration to the woodblock.

Interestingly, although Jaggard both printed and sold the first edition, the second edition was printed by Cotes but sold by Michael Sparke. The Oxford DNB notes, “Sparke’s life and work were characterized by his maniacal devotion to the protestant religion.” Sparke’s relationship to women was also fraught: He was married twice, and although when he died he left a significant portion of his money to his second wife, he requested burial beside his first; he also banned all women, save his daughters and granddaughters, from his funeral. I intend to investigate whether Sparke’s role in the production of the second edition may have influenced the decision to the alter the image in question.

In addition to this possible influence from the second edition’s seller, I’m also conducting further research into print censorship in early modern England. We all know that history doesn’t follow a neat cause-and-effect trajectory; unfortunately, the human race does not learn from its mistakes and progress steadily forward, constantly improving. Although the publication of the first edition of Mikrokosmographia in its original form represented a step forward as the first medical description of the female reproductive system published in the English vernacular, any progress made was subtly undercut by the alterations made to this illustration in the second edition. I look forward to reading more about the social, personal, religious, and political forces that influenced this outcome.


A Printer of Shakespeare

One of the (major) perks of being at the University of Iowa is access to a bigger library!

As I waited this summer for the move and for school to start, I compiled a list of the books I wanted to check out from the UIowa library. I was thrilled to find so many great items in the catalog, things I would have had to request through interlibrary loan at the University of South Dakota (although their early modern section is none too shabby, thanks to diligent attention from Dr. Darlene Farabee). However, when I got to campus, there was a good number I could not find on the shelves. And it wasn’t just the library construction; a re-check of the catalog showed that, indeed, several of the books were checked out.

As I’ve experienced the irritation of having a library book on my office shelf recalled, I’m reluctant to pull that move on someone else unless I really do need the volume. One book I just could not live any longer without seeing was A Printer of Shakespeare: The Books and Times of William Jaggard by Edwin Eliott Willoughby (1934). The title practically promised mention of Crooke, and I was not disappointed. (I have to admit, immediately checking the index of a volume for Crooke’s name has become such a habit I do it almost reflexively, even to non-early-modern books.)

In his first chapter, Willoughby explains that his primary motivation for writing the book is to shift the general opinion regarding Jaggard from “infamous pirate, liar and thief” (Swinburne’s label) to “the conclusion that he was an honest, prosperous, puritan printer who occasionally . . . made a slip” (Willoughby 3-4). Willoughby’s approach is blatantly biased and plainly dated, but I like the book all the more for just those reasons; the writing is lively, personal, and opinionated. In full disclosure, I haven’t finished the entire volume yet, but it’s been quite an enjoyable read. I’m pleased to come across anyone interested in this set of characters, but to find someone passionately concerned with one of them is a genuine delight.

Jaggard’s relationship to Crooke, of course, is an important one. They were involved both professionally and personally, and I wonder sometimes how much light their relationship might shed on such interactions in turn-of-the-seventeenth-century London. Although several later sources agree that Crooke and Jaggard initially met when the former treated the latter for syphilis, Willoughby is the first I’ve read that is distinctly derogatory regarding Crooke’s work on the case. Willoughby also provides some further insight regarding the source of this information, the Sloane manuscripts (which, as I’ve mentioned before, it seems I will have to travel to London to see). Willoughby writes:

In the Sloane Manuscripts, preserved at the British Museum, is recorded the history of Jaggard’s treatment [for syphilis] (MS. Sloane, 640 ff. 192 a, 266 b, 275 a). The physician who attended the case—we fear in none too skilful a manner—is not identified but he may have been Dr. Helkiah Crooke with whom Jaggard later, at least, seems to have been upon good terms. (103)

Amusingly, Willoughby quite handsomely avoids using the word “syphilis” directly, instead describing how Jaggard’s body

was racked by a disease which is terrible even to-day when all the forces of modern science are marshalled against it, and in the time of Jaggard, with the lack of knowledge of sanitation, was so common that its name was a by-word on the street and stage. . . . Finally, either the disease, or the mercury treatment for it, deprived William Jaggard of that sense which is so necessary to a printer, his sight. . . . In spite of his blindness, William Jaggard struggled on. (102-03)

Indeed, even if Crooke was to blame for the outcome of Jaggard’s tribulation, it seems to me that Jaggard himself would have been unlikely to recognize it, and the two men do seem to have struck up some sort of friendship, for their relationship continued. In his chapter on “The Books of William Jaggard,” Willoughby provides a breakdown of the sorts of books Jaggard printed.

History and Heraldry     –      –     33%

Religion   –      –      –      –      –     30%

Literature      –       –       –       –     18%

Science   –      –       –       –       –     11%

Other subjects  –      –       –       –     8%

Willoughby explains:

Jaggard’s fondness for large illustrated folios and his friendship for [Thomas] Milles and [Augustine] Vincent no doubt accounts largely for the expenditure of so large a proportion of his time and capital in the printing of books and heraldry, and his production of scientific books was no doubt stimulated by the same preferences and his friendship for Topsell and probably for Crooke. (186)

I don’t know enough about Jaggard’s contemporaries to know how this breakdown compares to what other printers were producing, nor am I certain how this compares to what we know about general reading preferences of the time. Elsewhere, Willoughby, like others, credits some of Jaggard’s interest in Crooke’s anatomy volume to Jaggard’s father’s membership in the Barber-Surgeons’ Company: “And no doubt Jaggard was proud to be the publisher of his learned work dedicated to his father’s guild” (106).

Of the two works Jaggard himself issued in 1615, Willoughby calls Mikrokosmographia the “much more important work” (the other was something by Thomas Adams titled The Blacke Devill, Lycanthropy and The Spirituall Navigator; 106). Willoughby helpfully explains that “Crooke’s Mikrokosmographia appeared in three issues, the first in 1615, a second in 1616, and a third in 1618. Besides the changes on the title-page various alterations were introduced in the preface” (106-07). Intriguingly, an image Willoughby includes in this section of his book reproduces the “TITLE-PAGE OF THE RARE SECOND ISSUE OF CROOKE’S MIKROKOSMOGRAPHIA, from the apparently unique copy in the University of Chicago libraries” (plate inserted between pp. 106-07). The title page certainly does look very similar to the majority of the 1615 copies I’ve seen, with the exception of the year in the final line at the bottom of the page; it does include the claim about the monarch I’ve discussed in previous posts. I’m going to have to do some more research, as at the moment I’m not sure exactly what Willoughby means by “issue,” and I’m curious whether 1616 copies are really as rare as he implies.


A poxed printer

Printed by William Jaggard dwelling in Barbican, and are there to be sold, 1615.

This final line of the title page identifies one more important relationship for Crooke. William Jaggard (1568-1623) is best known as the printer of the first folio of Shakespeare, which was completed the year of his death. However (unsurprisingly, I suppose), I find his role in the production of Mikrokosmographia equally interesting.

Jaggard was the son of a barber-surgeon; he met Crooke when he required treatment for syphilis. In his ODNB entry on Jaggard, Stanley Wells writes that Jaggard went blind from the disease “about 1612”; O’Malley records that the printer “suffered from a syphilitically induced blindness in 1612 and turned to Dr. Crooke in what was a vain effort to recover his lost sight” (5). (Both cite Sloane manuscript 640 at the British Museum as the source of this information, but I’ve been unsuccessful in my attempts to find any images of that manuscript online.) According to O’Malley, “the two men became friends,” and when Jaggard told Crooke of his plans to publish a translation of Paré, the physician convinced the printer to take on his own “extensive anatomical treatise for which Crooke had long been collecting material” (6). I find it intriguing that both O’Malley and Wells use the verb “persuade” to describe the way Jaggard was hired as a printer (O’Malley in regard to Crooke; Wells in regard to Thomas Pavier, for whom Jaggard printed the Shakespeare folio). At this point in my readings, I have the impression that Jaggard was rather malleable in his business dealings, perhaps in part because of his blindness. I’m not saying that Crooke and Pavier were aggressively manipulative, but Jaggard does come across as somewhat passive in his transactions with these men. This could be important because it would also have bearing on the issue of the origin and verifiability of the title-page claim about Crooke serving as James I’s personal physician; although Jaggard would have had more to lose for publishing a false claim, he could have been “persuaded” into it by Crooke, if that was the nature of their relationship.

In addition to Crooke and Jaggard’s documented doctor-patient relationship, a search of the Map of Early Modern London reveals that Jaggard’s location in the Barbican was not far (to the north) from St. Anne’s lane, where Crooke lived at the time his book was published, and that the Barber-Surgeons hall, where Crooke’s book was used and the company’s anatomies were conducted, was located in between. I find the physical proximity of these locations a point worth noting. I wonder, for instance, if this nearness is the reason Crooke was called upon to treat Jaggard for his syphilitic blindness in the first place. The College of Physicians was some distance away, on Knightrider Street (south of St. Paul’s). Ironically, because of Jaggard’s blindness, when the College called on the printer to threaten him regarding the objectionable parts of Crooke’s work, it was his wife Jane who appeared before them on his behalf. She apparently was either free from or did not suffer such severe symptoms of the disease.