Poetico-Mathematical Women and The Ladies’ Diary

  • Jacqueline D. Wernimont
Part of the Palgrave Handbooks of Literature and Science book series (PAHALISC)


Late in the year of 1703 a small 40-page octavo almanac entitled The Ladies’ Diary: or, the Womens Almanack, for the Year of our Lord, 1704 containing Directions of Love and Marriage, of Cookery, Preserving, Perfumery, Bills of Fare for every Month, and many other things peculiar to the Fair Sex appeared on booksellers’ shelves priced at three pence.1 Initially compiled by John Tipper, then the master of Bablake School and a Coventry tutor, the Diary was an immediate hit.2 ‘Containing many delightful and entertaining particulars, particularly adopted for the use and diversion of the fair-sex,’ The Ladies’ Diary was designed to be accessible while also being just a bit more special than its two-pence competitors.3 The Stationer’s Company, which held the rights to print all almanacs even as the Licensing Act lapsed, set the price against the protest of Tipper. The fate of an almanac depended a great deal on early sales successes and competition was fierce. Almanacs were, mid-century, England’s most numerous publications and sales had only tapered slightly in the early eighteenth century.4 Writing to his friend and advisor Humphrey Wanley, Tipper noted the numerous competing titles and worried that The Ladies’ Diary was too expensive to compete effectively in the crowded marketplace.5 His concerns seem to have been unwarranted; the Diary was extremely competitive. According to Tipper, the first run sold out quickly and 4000 copies of the second edition were sold by January 1705.6 To give a sense of the scale this represents, ‘this means that as early as the second year of this specialized almanac, one copy had been sold for every five hundred literate individuals in England.’7 At the high point in the middle of the eighteenth century roughly 30,000 copies a year were sold and the title sold continuously for 137 years.8


Seventeenth Century Civic Engagement Title Page Early Modern Period Aesthetic Rationalism 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jacqueline D. Wernimont
    • 1
  1. 1.Arizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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