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Chapbooks

Chapbooks

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For the People . While Mathew Carey and Isaiah Thomas created a publishing industry and prided themselves on the printers craft, they also sold popular works at low cost. Throughout the country small presses turned out chapbooks, small, relatively cheap editions of books printed on inexpensive paper. Some booksellers, such as Chapman Whitcomb, spent most of their time traveling and selling copies of their books for a few pennies a copy.

Itinerant Bookseller . Graduating from Dartmouth College in 1785, Whitcomb became a minister but did not succeed as one, either through his lack of faith or his eccentric nature. He taught school for a while and supplemented his income by collecting rags to sell to a local paper maker. Selling rags to make paper led Whitcomb into the other end of the paper industry, writing books. His several dozen books were printed in Leominster, Massachusetts, by Charles and John Prentiss. Whitcomb not only wrote poetry, but also the popular adventure stories and captivity tales. In 1800 he revised two booksthe narrative of Mary Rowlandson, who was captured by Wampanoag Indians in 1676, and an English chapbook relating a robbery titled The Farmers

Daughter, of Essex: Being a History of the Life and Sufferings of Miss Clarissa Dalton. With a stock of chapbooks in hand, Whitcomb walked through rural New England selling his wares.

Circulation . Most copies of these chapbooks have long since disappeared, though Isaiah Thomas made an effort to collect and preserve them in the American Antiquarian Society. Small presses such as that of the Prentiss brothers in Leominster turned out these cheap editions, and itinerant booksellers such as Whitcomb revised popular works and sold them in new areas. In the seventeenth century stories of colonists captured by Indians attracted readers, not only for the excitement but also for the moral lessons they conveyed. In the years 1785 to 1815 stories of Americans captured by Algerian pirates were also popular. In 1807 a Boston publisher printed History of the Captivity and Sufferings of Mrs. Maria Martin, who was Six Years a Slave in Algiers, which was reprinted in Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Ohio before 1816. One publisher bound this tale of captivity and suffering together with a Short Account of Algiers, originally published in 1793 by Mathew Carey; a rural New England printer, finding the two books bound together, printed Careys Short Account of Algiers separately, but listed Maria Martin as the author. Because distances were so great between Philadelphia and the New England backcountry, Carey did not attempt to retrieve his book or to extract royalties from the small press running off copies.

Common Themes . Aside from its publishing history, the Maria Martin chapbook shares a common theme

with other popular stories. A young woman goes to sea with her husband and is shipwrecked. Captured by corsairs, she becomes a slave to a Turkish governor in an Algerian province. She resists his sexual advances and is put in solitary confinement. Just as her mind is about to break, she has a vision of salvation and is rescued. She returns home, where her father faints upon seeing her after seven years of absence. The story ends with Maria Martin returning to sea to find her husband. This was a powerful story of endurance and survival. It was similar to Abraham Panthers A Very Surprising Narrative of a Young Woman, Discovered in a Rocky Cave, which was reprinted by many small presses between 1786 and 1816. Another popular chapbook was the Famous History of Whittington and his Cat, which had at least nineteen editions between 1770 and 1818. It related the story of Dick Whittington, a poor English boy who arrived in London with nothing but his cat and wound up becoming the citys Lord Mayor. A rags-to-riches story, the reasons for its popularity in American society are clear.

Significance . Magazines in this period were launched and quickly sank. Newspapers devoted most of their pages to affairs of state. Chapbooks were perhaps the most significant means of spreading ideas and culture through American society. Sold by traveling salesmen such as Whitcomb, these inexpensive books circulated throughout rural America, as well as in cities, and were meant to be read until they fell apart. The messages they conveyedself-reliance, resistance to tyranny, family loyalty, and hard workwere the vital principles of American society.

Sources

Robert J. Allison, The Crescent Obscured: The United States and the Muslim World, 17761815 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995);

Victor Neuberg, Chapbooks in America: Reconstructing the Popular Reading of Early America, in Reading in America: Literature and Social History, edited by Cathy N. Davidson (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989).

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Chapbooks

CHAPBOOKS

CHAPBOOKS were cheap, popular pamphlets, generally printed on a single sheet and folded to form twenty-four pages or fewer, often crudely illustrated with woodcuts, and sold by chapmen. Published in the tens of thousands in America until about 1850, these books were most numerous between 1800 and 1825. For over a century, chapbooks were the only literature available in the average home except the Bible, the almanac, and the Newspaper. They contained fairy tales, biographies of heroes and rascals, riddles, jests, poems, songs, speeches, accounts of shipwrecks and Indian activities, tales of highwaymen, deathbed scenes, accounts of executions, romances, astrology, palmistry, etiquette books, letters and valentines, and moral (and sometimes immoral) tales.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Preston, Cathy Lynn, and Michael J. Preston, eds. The Other Print Tradition: Essays on Chapbooks, Broadsides, and Related Ephemera. New York: Garland, 1995.

R. W. G.Vail/a. e.

See alsoAlmanacs ; Literature: Children's Literature, Popular Literature .

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"Chapbooks." Dictionary of American History. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Chapbooks." Dictionary of American History. . Retrieved August 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/chapbooks

chapbook

chapbook, one of the pamphlets formerly sold in Europe and America by itinerant agents, or "chapmen." Chapbooks were inexpensive—in England often costing only a penny—and, like the broadside, they were usually anonymous and undated. The texts were similar to those of current tabloid newspapers and therefore reveal much about the popular taste of the 16th, 17th, and 18th cent. The term is occasionally used to refer to old manuscripts showing national character through the use of vernacular expressions.

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"chapbook." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"chapbook." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/chapbook

"chapbook." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/chapbook

chapbook

chapbook a small pamphlet containing tales, ballads, or tracts, sold by pedlars; (chiefly in North America) a small paper-covered booklet, typically containing poems or fiction. The term is recorded from the early 19th century, and the first element comes from chapman, archaic term for a pedlar.

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"chapbook." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"chapbook." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Retrieved August 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/chapbook

chap-book

chap-book pamphlet of popular literature formerly hawked by itinerant dealers. XIX. f. chap in CHAPMAN + BOOK.

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"chap-book." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"chap-book." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Retrieved August 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/chap-book

chapbook

chapbookbetook, book, brook, Brooke, Chinook, chook, Coke, cook, Cooke, crook, forsook, Gluck, hook, look, mistook, nook, partook, rook, schnook, schtuck, Shilluk, shook, Tobruk, took, undercook, undertook •handbook •chapbook, scrapbook •cash book • passbook • sketchbook •chequebook • textbook •daybook, playbook •casebook • phrase book • dybbuk •pocketbook • copybook • storybook •guidebook • logbook • songbook •scorebook • hornbook • sourcebook •notebook • cookbook • yearbook •picture book • wordbook • workbook •caoutchouc • Windhoek • billhook •fishhook • skyhook • buttonhook •tenterhook • wet look • outlook •Inuk • inglenook • Sihanouk •Pembroke • Innsbruck • donnybrook •Uruk • Osnabrück • Beaverbrook •nainsook

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