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Illustrations from the Wellcome Library William Winstanley’s Pestilential Poesies in The Christians Refuge: Or Heavenly Antidotes Against the Plague in this Time of Generall Contagion to Which is Added the Charitable Physician (1665)

By KATHLEEN MILLER

Abstract

During the Great Plague of London (1665), William Winstanley veered from his better known roles as arbiter of success and failure in his works of biography or as a comic author under the pseudonym Poor Robin, and instead engaged with his reading audience as a plague writer in the rare book The Christians Refuge: Or Heavenly Antidotes Against the Plague in this Time of Generall Contagion to Which is Added the Charitable Physician (1665). From its extensive paratexts, including a table of mortality statistics and woodcut of king death, to its temporal and providential interpretation of the disease between the covers of a single text, The Christians Refuge is a compendium of contemporary understanding of plague. This article addresses The Christians Refuge as an expression of London’s print marketplace in a moment of transformation precipitated by the epidemic. The author considers the paratextual elements in The Christians Refuge that engage with the presiding norms in plague writing and publishing in 1665 and also explores how Winstanley’s authorship is expressed in the work. Winstanley has long been seen as a biographer or as a humour writer; attributing The Christians Refuge extends and challenges previous perceptions of his work

Topics: Articles
Publisher: Medical History
OAI identifier: oai:pubmedcentral.nih.gov:3066675
Provided by: PubMed Central

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