Strange food, paper

Alexandra Halasz


Though England imported most of the paper used for writing and printing until the late eighteenth century, the establishment of a white paper mill in 1588/89 provoked attention to the economy of paper and its figurative dimensions.  Paper production became a site for imagining a national self-sufficiency and paper itself became momentarily visible as a material force in relations of literacy and sociality.  This essay examines the literary and documentary archive about paper in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries and suggests that two key figures in the history of English finance capital, Thomas Gresham and John Spilman, may have been particularly interested in the production of white paper.


Paper; Stationers' Company; 2 Henry 6; The Praise of Hempseed; Paper's Complaint; paper credit; bills of exchange; John Spilman; Thomas Churchyard

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