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Richard Topcliffe and the Book Culture of the Elizabethan Catholic Underground

  • Mark Rankin (a1)

Abstract

Richard Topcliffe (1531–1604) was the most infamous torturer of Elizabethan England. He was also a professional reader. Historians of the book are interested in how repressive regimes read the books of their enemies. This essay identifies a number of books that contain Topcliffe's marginalia and have not previously been studied by scholars. It argues that Topcliffe's reading was forensic in nature, and was utilized directly by the Elizabethan regime in its campaign against Catholicism. This investigation reveals the connection between racking and reading, and demonstrates the ways in which Topcliffe's reading legitimated state-authorized violence.

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Copyright

Footnotes

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This project received support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Huntington Library. I am indebted to the generosity of Steve Hindle, W. M. Keck Foundation Director of Research at the Huntington Library. Frank Brownlow, Jonathan Bush, Katey Castellano, John Craig, David Cressy, John Guy, Earle Havens, Christopher Highley, Arnold Hunt, James Kelly, Gerard Kilroy, John N. King, Glyn Parry, Richard Rex, Alison Shell, Alexandra Walsham, and J. Christopher Warner offered valuable assistance.

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References

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Richard Topcliffe and the Book Culture of the Elizabethan Catholic Underground

  • Mark Rankin (a1)

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