Writing/resource: 18th century chapbooks discovered!

4 April, 2010 at 7:43 pm Leave a comment

When people ask me what I write, I usually say:

“Penny Dreadfuls. But they cost more than a penny and aren’t dreadful.”

A historian might point out that’s this is not really correct (and some may argue that, indeed, my writing is dreadful, by Jove!), because Penny Dreadfuls were a thing of the 19th century, and I aim for an 18th century feeling. Amandine de Villeneuve’s woodcut-like illustrations are in the style of the 18th century as well. But from their content, I feel that my stories are “Penny Dreadfuls” rather than “Chapbooks”, their cruder 18th century predecessors (we’ll get to that in a minute).

Penny Dreadfuls were stories published in parts over a course of several weeks, costing one penny each. And for that, the 19th century teenager got Adventure! Drama! Swordfights! Highwaymen! Pirates! Vampires! A damsel in distress!

The 18th century had the “Chapbook”. Its origins can be tracked back as early as the 1600s, and a chapbook could be just about anything from religious pamphlet to printed gallows speech to folk tale to coverage of the Great Fire of London. The natural lifespan of a chapbook was short; it usually ended as toilet paper. Samuel Pepys was a collector of chapbooks (I don’t think anybody is surprised to hear that),  and thanks to him, we still have a few examples to look at today.It goes without saying that the medium hasn’t been invented yet that wouldn’t have been used for the distribution of mankind’s number one interest.  To quote Steve from “Coupling”:  “When man invented fire, he didn’t say, “Hey, let’s cook.”  He said, “Great, now we can see naked bottoms in the dark!” As soon as Caxton invented the printing press, we were using it to make pictures of, hey, naked bottoms!”

Raunchy, saucy, rude – those are the terms we usually connect with a “Chapbook” today. And now look what the cat dragged in:

STASH OF ‘SAUCY’ LITERATURE UNCOVERED AT HISTORIC LAKE DISTRICT HOUSE

“They often contained rather saucy and even rude tales, which were found to be very amusing by their 18th century readers.”

Heh. I bet not only by them. Here’s an excerpt from “The Crafty Chambermaid”, dating back to 1770; the tale of a chambermaid who tricks a young man into marrying her/of a London merchant who tries to romantically pursue a chambermaid (it depends on one’s point of view, I suppose…)



The Merchant he softly crept into the room,

And on the bedside he then sat himself down,
Her knees through the Counterpane he did embrace,
Did Bess in the pillow did hide her sweet face.

He stript of his cloaths and leaped into bed
Saying now lovely creature for thy maidenhead,
She strug led and strove and seemed to be shy
He said divine beauty I pray now comply.

Things haven’t changed much, now have they…

Advertisements

Entry filed under: 18th century, art, books, naughty, resource. Tags: , , , , , , .

Resource: When Horatio Nelson met William Garrow… Books (and gavels!): Sir William Garrow (biography) by John Hostettler and Richard Braby

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


FOLLOW ME!



Follow Me on Pinterest

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 341 other followers

MY LATEST BOOK

"THE RADIANT BOY"
Four Ghost Stories from the Age of Sail


Click here for a preview!
Click here to order!

RECOMMENDED AGE OF SAIL WRITING

EMMA COLLINGWOOD ONLINE

Love, Suspense and Sarcasm in the Age of Sail

ALEX BEECROFT
Adventure and Romance

OLD CUDDY - COLLINGWOOD 2010
Tribute to Admiral Lord Collingwood on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of his death at sea

OFFICIAL COLLINGWOOD 2010 WEBSITE
2010 is the year to celebrate a great man.

LINKS

MOLLY JOYFUL'S LIST OF USEFUL RESOURCES
Royal Navy, general 18th century history, biographies, books, art etc.


JOYFUL MOLLY ON LIVEJOURNAL
Same entries as on wordpress, but with additional RNotC fandom content (icons, updates on fanfic, meta etc.) and discussion.

RECOMMENDED BLOGS

GARROW'S LAW
Maintained by Mark Pallis, Legal and Historical Consultant on the BBC show

THE OFFICIAL WEBLOG OF WOLFGANG AMADÉ MOZART
THE DUTCHESS OF DEVONSHIRE'S GOSSIP GUIDE TO THE 18TH CENTURY
ONE MORE STITCH
Reproduction and historic knitting inspired by original garments, objects and patterns from the past.

GILLRAY'S PRINTSHOP OF HISTORICAL ABSURDITIES
Being one amateur historian's exploration of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Blog Stats

  • 387,586 hits
site stats

%d bloggers like this: