Printing and the English Urban Renaissance
Using Peter Borsay's idea of an English Urban Renaissance, alongside other ideas including the Industrial Revolution and the Enlightenment, this chapter discusses the context within which Baskerville and other provincial printers worked during the eighteenth century. The Printing (Licensing) Act had restricted printing to London, Oxford and Cambridge; its lapse in 1695 allowed printing to develop in other provincial towns, though London continued to dominate the trade. Birmingham, as a manorial town, was free of the trade restrictions which operated in incorporated towns and printers and other businessmen were free to set up in business without formality. The context of Birmingham as a developing industrial town is outlined and cultural aspects of the town's history are discussed.
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