University of Melbourne Library Journal, Volume 10, Number 1, July (2005)
Among the books of cases and contract law in the University of Melbourne’s Law Rare Book Collection is a series of British pamphlets and other publications dating from the English Civil War (1625–1649). These include acts of parliament, speeches, sermons and at least one ‘newsbook’ or early newspaper. This article gives an overview of this component of the Law collection and points to some of its more significant items.
Pamphlets are small works of fewer than 50 pages. They typically deal with contentious subjects and so were often published anonymously. Pamphlets in the Law collection, for example, are attributed simply to ‘a Friend and servant’ or ‘a true lover of God and King Charles’. Pamphlet culture exploded in England in the 1640s when political unrest excited the public appetite for news, and an easing of censorship laws gave writers and printers the freedom to spread it.