stephen.sedleyThe Privy Council, which will now be responsible for issuing a royal charter setting up a panel to vet the independence of a new press regulator, started licensing books in 1538. In 1557 a royal charter gave the members of the Stationers’ Company a monopoly of printing. In 1588 the anti-episcopal Marprelate Tracts (one of whose authors, John Penry, was executed for publishing them) provoked a system of press licensing which survived in one form or another, though with diminishing effect, until the last decade of the 17th century. Continue reading