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Writing before the institution of copyright, Renaissance authors were not recognized as owning their works. Yet, in an environment in which the written word could be variously marketed by printers or by acting companies, and in which authors could be held uncomfortably responsible for their writings, we can discover complex stirrings of possessiveness among such writers as Bacon, Heywood, Daniel, Shakespeare, Wither, and--most powerfully and interestingly--Ben Jonson. This book probes the literary and institutional history, the politics, and the psychology of possessive authorship.
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