From Palatino to Cresci: Italian Writing Books and the Italian Scripts of Early Modern English Letters

Gibson, Jonathan (2016). From Palatino to Cresci: Italian Writing Books and the Italian Scripts of Early Modern English Letters. In: Daybell, James and Gordon, Andrew eds. Cultures of Correspondence in Early Modern Britain. Material Texts. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, pp. 29–47.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.9783/9780812292930-003

Abstract

In this chapter, I argue that the distinctions between the model hands promoted by two rival Italian writing-masters, Giovambattista Palatino and Giovan Francesco Cresci, are of central importance for the study of early modern English manuscripts written in italic script. Palatino's style of italic influenced writing across Europe until it was superseded c. 1560 by the looser style of Cresci, which proved equally influential. Most manuscripts written in formal italic in England in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries clearly show the influence either of Palatino or of Cresci, with hands influenced by Palatino generally predating those influenced by Cresci. I also analyse the different uses to which italic and other types of script was put in early modern England and the social significance associated with these differences. The chapter is innovative both in its main argument and methodologically, in applying the findings of historians of Renaissance handwriting to the details of early modern English manuscripts.

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