Hugh Amory (1930-2001) was at once the most rigorous and the most methodologically sophisticated historian of the book in early America. Gathered here are his essays, articles, and lectures on the subject, two of them printed for the first time. An introduction by David D. Hall sets this work in context and indicates its significance; Hall has also provided headtes for each of the essays. Amory used his training as a bibliographer to reexamine every major question about printing, bookmaking, and reading in early New England. Who owned Bibles, and in what formats? Did the colonial book trade consist of books imported from Europe or of local production? Can we go behind the iconic status of the Bay Psalm Book to recover its actual history? Was Michael Wigglesworth's Day of Doom really a bestseller? And why did an Indian gravesite contain a scrap of Psalm 98 in a medicine bundle buried with a young Pequot girl? In answering these and other questions, Amory writes broadly about the social and ecomic history of printing, bookselling and book ownership. At the heart of his work is a determination to connect the materialities of printed books with the workings of the book trades and, in turn, with how printed books were put to use. This is a collection of great methodological importance for anyone interested in literature and history who wants to make those same connections.
Hugh Amory was Senior Rare Book Cataloguer at Houghton Library, Harvard University. Together with David D. Hall, he was coeditor of The Colonial Book in the Atlantic World. David D. Hall is Bartlett Professor of New England Church History at Harvard Divinity School. He is the author of many books, including Cultures of Print: Essays in the History of the Book and Worlds of Wonder, Days of Judgment: Popular Religious Belief in Early New England.