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Henry Playford: a Bibliographical Study

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posted on 2021-11-03, 22:07 authored by Harvey, Douglas Ross

Henry Playford (1657-1709) was one of the most important London music publishers in the period 1680 to 1710. He was the son of the music publisher John Playford and a member of the Company of Stationers, and his business practices owed much to his father and to his training in traditional methods of book publishing and production. Henry Playford's publishing career is here examined in two ways: as a continuation of his father's methods; and as a response to competition from publishers of engraved music, most notably John Walsh.  The lives and trade practices of both John and Henry Playford are described. Publications are examined in three main categories: musical publications originally established by John Playford and continued by Henry; new kinds of musical publications introduced by Henry; and publications not containing music. Details concerning his career as a bookseller are presented, as is information relating to other activities not directly relevant to publishing or bookselling, most notably his activities in the sale of art works. His relationships with other members of the book trade - printers , partners and apprentices - are described, and documents relating to the lawsuit between Playford and the printer William Pearson are re-examined and re-assessed. His competitors and successors are identified , and their activities described. This section concludes with an examination of previous writings about Henry Playford, and a re-assessment of his place and importance in English music publishing.  The basis of the study is a descriptive bibliography of the publications issued by Henry Playford. It is presented, together with indexes of the works and of book trade members, and with illustrations of some title - pages, printed ornaments, and engravings.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

New Zealand School of Music


Walls, P G; McKenzie, D F