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A Description of the Resource

This website offers double rekeyed and fully searchable text of a selection of serials collected by seventeenth-century bookseller George Thomason. As is well known, the Thomason collection of newsbooks is a very significant body of texts. Though many bibliophiles from the period amassed impressive personal collections of contemporary books and pamphlets, none did so with Thomason's assiduity, rigour and care. Thomason regarded serials as a key component of a rich archive of printed and manuscript materials; he acquired around 7,200 of them, approximately one third of his total book collection, and, in placing them cheek-by-jowl with very different kinds of text, privileging the date he received a work above the status of the author or genre of a text, problematized distinctions between cheap unbound pamphlets and the more stable and respectable bibliographic category of the book. 

This resource enables both the synchronic and diachronic study of Thomason's serials. For the former it offers facsimiles and searchable text of every newsbook that Thomason collected in the climactic year of 1649, a year which witnessed the trial and execution of King Charles I, the abolition of the House of Lords, as well as the establishment of the English Republic. For the latter, it presents the entire run of Mercurius Politicus (June 1650-April 1660), one of the most durable, forceful, innovative, and successful serials of the early modern period.

There was some duplication and the occasional gap in Thomason's collection. For example, Thomason collected all but two issues of Mercurius Politicus. (The missing issues are Mercurius Politicus 281, 25 Oct-1 Nov 1655 and Mercurius Politicus 372, 16-23 July 1657. ) Thomason also frequently collected more than one copy of the same issue of Politicus (for example numbers 440, and 443). Duplicate issues can easily be found using the 'browse' function; they potentially complicate search results since they bear identical contents, colophon and pagination (pagination errors are also reproduced across the duplicate issues). Such duplicates of Politicus are very different from the counterfeit issues of royalist serials printed in 1649 which, although bearing the same issue number and, occasionally, the same date, have vastly different contents and agendas.

For further bibliographic information about the contents of Thomason's serial collection see Carolyn Nelson and Matthew Seccombe's magisterial British Newspapers and Periodicals, 1641-1700: a short-title catalogue of serials printed in England, Scotland, Ireland and British America (New York: Modern Languages Assocation, 1987).

Funding Statement

This project was funded by an AHRC speculative research grant for the project 'Participating in Search Design: A Study of George Thomason's English Newsbooks (PI: Professor Michael J. Braddick; CIs: Dr Marcus Nevitt and Dr Bridgette Wessels). The project website is here and publications relating to the project are:

Michael J. Braddick and Marcus Nevitt (eds.) Seventeenth-Century Journalism in the Digital Age (Media History 23.2, 2017).

Bridgette Wessels, Keira Borrill, Louise Sorensen, Jamie McLaughlin and Michael Pidd, Understanding Design for the Digital Humanities

Contact Us

Please address general enquiries to

Dr Marcus Nevitt
The School of English
1.21 Jessop West
University of Sheffield
Sheffield S3 7RA

Further Reading

Stephen J. Greenberg, ‘Dating civil war pamphlets, 1641–1644’, Albion, 20 (1988): 387–401 ·

S. J. Greenberg, ‘The Thomason collection: a rebuttal to Michael Mendle’, Albion, 22 (1990): 95–8 ·

Mendle, Michael. ‘Preserving the Ephemeral: Reading, Collecting and the Pamphlet Culture of Seventeenth Century England’ in Jennifer Anderson and Elizabeth Sauer (eds.), Books and Readers in Early Modern England (Philadelphia: University of Pensylvania Press, 2002), pp. 201-216.

Michael Mendle, ‘The Thomason collection: a reply to Stephen J. Greenberg’, Albion, 22 (1990): 85–93.

Jason Peacey, ' "The counterfeit silly curr": Money, Politics, and the Forging of Royalist Newspapers during the English Civil War', Huntington Library Quarterly 67.1 (2004): 27-58.

Lois Spencer, ‘The Professional and Political Connexions of George Thomason’, The Library 13 (1958): 102-18.

David Stoker, 'Disposing of George Thomason's Intractable Legacy, 1664-1762', The Library, 6th series, vol 14 (December 1992): 338-355.

David Stoker, ‘Thomason, George (c.1602–1666)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, Oct 2008 [].