Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Tottel, Richard

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TOTTEL, RICHARD (d. 1594), publisher, was a citizen of London who set up in business as a stationer and printer in the reign of Edward VI. From 1553 until his death forty-one years later, he occupied a house and shop known as The Hand and Star, between the gates of the Temples in Fleet Street within Temple Bar. On 12 April 1553 he was granted a patent to print for seven years all ‘duly authorised books on common law’ (Dugdale, Orig. Jurid. pp. 59, 60). In 1556 this patent was renewed for a further term of seven years. When the Stationers' Company of London was created in 1557, Tottel was nominated a member in the charter (Arber, Stationers' Registers, vol. i. pp. xxvii–xxix). The company entered in the early pages of their register a note of his patent for law books (ib. i. 95). On 12 Jan. 1559 the patent was granted anew to Tottel for life. Another patent was also drawn up in his favour giving him the exclusive right of publishing for seven years all books on cosmography, geography, and topography, but it seems doubtful whether this grant was ratified. Tottel won a high position in the Stationers' Company, and filled in succession its chief offices. He was renter or collector of the quarterages in 1559–60, was under warden in 1561, and upper warden in 1567, 1568, and 1574. He served as master in 1578 and 1584. A few years later he practically retired from business, owing to failing health. His last publication was Sir James Dyer's ‘Collection of Cases,’ which was licensed on 11 Jan. 1586 (Arber, ii. 445). On 30 Sept. 1589 the court of assistants of the company excluded him from their body on the ground of ‘his continual absence,’ but, in consideration of the fact that he had always been ‘a loving and orderly brother,’ they resolved that he was at liberty to attend their meetings whenever he was in London. On 7 Aug. 1593 ‘young Master Tottell’ was described in the company's register as ‘dealer for his father.’ Tottel died next year. On 20 March 1594 his patent for law books was granted for a term of thirty years to Charles, son of Nicolas Yetsweirt, who also succeeded to Tottel's place of business in Fleet Street (Arber, ii. 16). That house passed in 1598 to the printer and publisher John Jaggard. Tottel's daughter Anne married, on 18 Dec. 1594, William Pennyman (Marriage Licences of the Bishop of London, 1520–1610, Harl. Soc. p. 220).

Tottel's business was mainly confined throughout his career to the printing and publishing of law books, but his literary publications, although few, were of sufficient interest to give him a place in literary history. At the outset he published More's ‘Dialogue of Comfort’ (1553), Lydgate's ‘Fall of Princes’ (1554), and Stephen Hawes's ‘Pastime of Pleasure’ (1555). It was Tottel who gave to the public Surrey's translation of the second and fourth books of Virgil's ‘Æneid,’ the earliest known specimen of blank verse in English, which was issued in a volume bearing the date 21 June 1557. He also printed the first edition of the translation of Cicero's ‘De Officiis’ by Nicholas Grimald in 1556 (2nd ed. 1558), and Arthur Broke's ‘Romeus and Juliet’ in 1562.

The poetical anthology commonly known as Tottel's ‘Miscellany’ was the most important of his ventures in pure literature. The first edition appeared, according to the colophon, on 5 June 1557, with the title ‘Songs and Sonettes written by the Ryght Honorable Lord Henry Haward, late Earle of Surrey, and other. Apud Ricardum Tottel, 1557, Cum privilegio.’ Tottel, in an address to the reader, suggests that this publication was undertaken ‘to the honor of the Englishe tong and for profit of the studious of Englishe eloquence.’ The volume consisted of 271 poems, none of which had been printed before; forty were by Henry Howard, earl of Surrey [q. v.], ninety-six by Sir Thomas Wyatt [q. v.], forty by Nicholas Grimald [q. v.], and ninety-five by ‘uncertain authors,’ among whom Thomas, lord Vaux, John Heywood, and William Forrest have since been identified. All the original verse of Wyatt and Surrey that is known to be extant is preserved solely in Tottel's anthology. Of the first edition, Malone's copy in the Bodleian Library is the only one known to be extant; a reprint, limited to sixty copies, was edited by John Payne Collier in his ‘Seven English Poetical Miscellanies’ in 1867. A second edition followed on 31 July 1557, and, while thirty of Grimald's poems were withdrawn, thirty-nine new poems appear in the section devoted to ‘uncertain authors.’ This volume contains two hundred and eighty poems in all. Two copies are known, one in the Grenville collection at the British Museum, and the other in the Capell collection at Trinity College, Cambridge. A third edition was issued by Tottel in 1558 (unique copy in British Museum—imperfect); a fourth in 1565 (Bodleian); a fifth in 1567 (John Rylands Library, Manchester), and a sixth in 1574. These were all produced by Tottel. A seventh edition in 1588 and an eighth in 1589 were published respectively by T. Windet and R. Robinson. An incorrect and imperfect reprint was edited by Thomas Sewell in 1717, and Wyatt's and Surrey's poems have often been reprinted in the present century. A scholarly edition of all the contents of both the first and second editions of Tottel's ‘Miscellany’ was included in Arber's ‘English Reprints’ in 1870.

Tottel's ‘Miscellany’ inaugurated the long series of poetic anthologies which were popular in England throughout Elizabeth's reign. The most interesting of them, Richard Edwardes's ‘The Paradise of Dainty Devices’ (1576), ‘The Phœnix Nest’ (1593), ‘England's Helicon’ (1600), and Davison's ‘Poetical Rapsody’ (1602), are all modelled more or less directly on Tottel's venture.

[Ames's Typogr. Antiq. ed. Herbert, ii. 806 et seq.; Arber's Registers of Stationers' Company; Arber's introduction to the reprint of Tottel's Miscellany, 1890; Collier's Bibliographical Catalogue, ii. 402–3.]

S. L.