It is not surprising that many early copies of William Camden’s Britannia (1586) contain handwritten annotations.1 After all, the text features hundreds of densely packed place names and antiquities. What is surprising is the uneven distribution of these notes. In one first edition copy, an anonymous early modern reader’s marginal jottings are strictly confined to the Midlands section.2 In a volume published fourteen years later, a vigilant hand has written notes in the chapters on Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, and Rutlandshire to ensure that obliquely mentioned Nottinghamshire places are not wrongly ascribed to these other counties.3 A 1610 Britannia contains manuscript notes in several hands.4 One reader contributes copious marginalia, but only for the adjoining counties of Essex and Hertfordshire. The flowery brown calligraphy seems especially concerned with keeping up with the prominent gentry families of the neighborhood. Meanwhile, a scratchy black script appears for only a ten-page stretch in the section on the West Riding of Yorkshire. This reader turned writer provides a running list of the prominent place names mentioned in the text. A third hand, made orange by age, seems to have been particularly engaged by Camden’s description of a minor river in Surrey: ‘Not farre from hence the cleere riveret Wandle in Latin Vandalis, so full of the best trouts, issueth forth from his head … where by a tuft of trees upon an hil-top there are to be seene manifest signes of a pretty towne, and diverse wels built of flint stone’ (299).


Wool Cloth Packed Place Early Modern Period Local Consciousness English Nation 
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  1. 5.
    Krishan Kumar, The Making of English National Identity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 6.
    Richard Helgerson, Forms of Nationhood: The Elizabethan Writing of England (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), 299.Google Scholar
  3. 7.
    See, for instance, Andrew Hadfield, Literature, Politics and National Identity: Reformation to Renaissance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994); Claire McEachern, The Poetics of English Nationhood (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996);Gillian Brennan, Patriotism, Power, and Print (Cambridge: James Clarke, 2003); and Philip Schwyzer, Literature, Nationalism, and Memory in Early Modern England and Wales (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).Google Scholar
  4. 8.
    These works are (in the order referred to above): Rhonda Lemke Sanford, Maps and Memory in Early Modern England: A Sense of Place (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002); Andrew Escobedo, Nationalism and Historical Loss in Renaissance England: Foxe, Dee, Spenser, Milton (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2004); Patrick Collinson, ‘Biblical Rhetoric: The English Nation and National Sentiment in the Prophetic Mode,’ in Religion and Culture in Renaissance England, ed. Claire McEachern and Debora Shuger (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 15–45; Cathy Shrank, ‘Rhetorical Constructions of a National Community: The Role of the King’s English in Mid-Tudor Writing,’ in Communities in Early Modern England, ed. Phil Withington and Alexandra Shepard (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000), 180–198; David Cressy, Bonfires and Bells: National Memory and the Protestant Calendar in Elizabethan and Stuart England (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1989); and Roze Hentschell, The Culture of Cloth in Early Modern England: Textual Constructions of a National Identity (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2008).Google Scholar
  5. 9.
    See, for instance, Bruce McLeod, The Geography of Empire in English Literature, 1580–1745 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999); Willy Maley, Nation, State, and Empire in English Renaissance Literature (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003); Andrew Hadfield, Shakespeare, Spenser, and the Matter of Britain (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004); Stewart Mottram, Empire and Nation in Early English Renaissance Literature (Rochester, NY: D. S. Brewer, 2008).Google Scholar
  6. 10.
    For an article that is representative of this tendency, see Martin Elsky, ‘Microhistory and Cultural Geography: Ben Jonson’s “To Sir Robert Wroth” and the Absorption of Local Community in the Commonwealth,’ Renaissance Quarterly 53:2 (Summer 2000): 500–528.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© John M. Adrian 2011

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