Francis Constable

Francis Constable

Francis Constable (1592 – August 21, 1647) was a London bookseller and publisher of the Jacobean and Caroline eras, noted for publishing a number of stage plays of English Renaissance drama.

Life and work

Francis Constable, son of Robert Constable and Margery Barker, was baptized on May 12, 1592, in Datchet, Buckinghamshire. He became a "freedman" (a full member) of the Stationers Company on July 2, 1614. He established his independent business at a series of locations in London and Westminster: first at the sign of the White Lion in St. Paul's Churchyard, from 1616 through 1624; then under the sign of the Crane, also in St. Paul's Churchyard, to 1631; then "under St. Martin's Church" in Ludgate, to 1637; and finally on King Street in Westminster, at the sign of the Goat. He also kept a stall in Westminster Hall during the later part of his business career. [Henry Robert Plomer, "A Dictionary of the Booksellers and Printers Who Were at Work in England, Scotland and Ireland from 1641 to 1667," London, The Bibliographical Society/Blades, East & Blades, 1097; p. 51.]

In his career, Constable sometimes partnered with Humphrey Moseley, one of the most prominent publishers of drama and literature in Constable's generation; he also partnered with other stationers on specific projects.

A relation of Francis Constable, a brother or nephew named Richard Constable, was active as a bookseller in the late 1640s. [Plomer, p. 52.] Francis was married to Alice Constable, who survived her husband; they had fifteen children. One of their daughters, Anne Constable, baptized on February 21, 1621( old style; 1622 new style), [] married Richard Lee I, an important figure in the colony of Virginia. []

(Francis Constable the publisher is distinct from his contemporary, Francis Constable, esquire, of Burstwick in Yorkshire. Many members of the northern family, earlier and later, shared the name Francis Constable.)


Constable's earliest book was the first edition of Samuel Daniel's "pastoral tragicomedy" "Hymen's Triumph" (1615). Among Constable's other publications in drama were:

* the first quarto of Beaumont and Fletcher's "The Maid's Tragedy", in partnership with stationer Richard Higgenbotham (1619);
** the second quarto of the same play (1622);
* Thomas Middleton's "A Chaste Maid in Cheapside" (1630);
* "Pathomachia" (1630);
* James Shirley's "Love Tricks", as "The School of Compliment" (1631);
** a second edition of the same play (1637);
* Philip Massinger and Nathan Field's "The Fatal Dowry" (1632);
* William Rowley's "A New Wonder, a Woman Never Vexed" (1632);
* Richard Brome's "The Antipodes" (1640);
* Brome's "The Sparagus Garden" (1640);
* Henry Glapthorne's "The Lady's Privilege" (1640);
* Glapthorne's "Wit in a Constable" (1640).

Constable worked with many London printers on these and other projects, including Richard and Thomas Cotes, Nicholas Okes and his son John Okes, and Elizabeth Allde, among others.

Other works

Inevitably, Constable also published a wide variety of other literature beyond the drama. He published the second edition of William Vaughan's "The Spirit of Detraction" in 1630. He issued multiple editions of Thomas Scott's satire "Philomythie, or Philomythologie, Wherein Outlandish Birds Beasts and Fishes are Taught to Speak True English Plainly", in 1616 and after; and multiple editions of Henry Peacham the younger's "The Complete Gentleman", from 1622 on. He published items of the religious literature that was so common in the era, like Alexander Ross's "Three Decades of Divine Meditations" (1630). And religious poetry: Richard Braithwaite's "The Psalms of David" (1638). He published Peacham's "Thalia's Banquet" in 1620, and his elegy "Thestylis Astrata" in 1634; and Glapthorne's poem "Whitehall" in 1643. Constable also was responsible for texts in medicine and anatomy. [Elizabeth Lane Furdell, "Publishing and Medicine in Early Modern England," Rochester, NY, University of Rochester Press, 2002; p. 53.]

And Constable also issued works of social criticism and contemporary controversies, like "Machiavel's Ghost, as He Lately Appeared to His Dear Sons, the Modern Projectors" (1641; attributed to John Taylor the Water Poet). He issued one notable volume in the utopian literature, Samuel Hartlib's "A Description of the Famous Kingdom of Macaria" (1641) — plus a supply of political and legal materials involving the start of the English Civil War and the Commonwealth era. [George Knottesford Fortescue/British Library Department of Printed Books, "Catalogue of the Pamphlets, Books, Newspapers, and Manuscripts Relating to the Civil War, the Commonwealth, and Restoration, Collected by George Thomason, 1640–1661", London, British Museum/Longman & Co., 1908; Vol. 1, pp. 3, 8, 11, 15, and ff.]

ee also

* Robert Allot
* William Aspley
* Edward Blount
* Walter Burre
* Cuthbert Burby
* Philip Chetwinde
* Crooke and Cooke
* Richard Hawkins
* Henry Herringman
* William Jaggard
* William Leake
* John and Richard Marriot
* John Martyn
* Augustine Matthews
* William Ponsonby
* Humphrey Robinson
* John Smethwick
* Thomas Thorpe
* Thomas Walkley


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