Mary Cooper (publisher)
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Mary Cooper Publisher

Mary Cooper (d. August 5, 1761[1]) was a London-based publisher and bookseller who flourished between 1743 and 1761.[2] With Thomas Boreman, she is the earliest publisher of children's books in English, predating John Newbery.[3]

Cooper's business was on Paternoster Row.[1] She was the widow of printer and publisher Thomas Cooper,[2] whose business she continued. Thomas Cooper had published a reading guide in 1742, The Child's New Play-thing, and his wife published an edition of it after his death.[4] Active from 1743 to 1761,[2] she is notable especially for publishing Tommy Thumb's Pretty Song Book (1744), "the first known collection of English nursery rhymes in print".[4] Cooper collected the rhymes, each of which had a companion woodcut, and later critics have remarked that "Cooper's ear for a good jingle was unerring".[5]

With her husband, she was a trade publisher, meaning she did not own the copyright to works they published, meaning also that the actual copyright owner could remain anonymous, a benefit when the book was controversial--one of the Coopers' books was the (anonymously printed) erotic novel A Secret History of Pandora's Box (1742).[6] As such, Cooper had business arrangements with Andrew Millar, Henry Fielding's publisher, and printed a number of Fielding's pamphlets.[7] She was an exception to the general rule that 18th-century women in the publishing business were of only minor importance; besides functioning as a trade publisher she owned the copyright to a number of titles.[8] She is also credited with publishing a newspaper, the Manchester Vindicated, remarked on in 1749.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Timperley, Charles Henry (1839). A dictionary of printers and printing: with the progress of literature; ancient and modern. H. Johnson. pp. 679, 709. Retrieved 2013.
  2. ^ a b c Fuderer, Laura. "18th-Century British Women in Print". Archived from the original on 8 January 2002. Retrieved 2013.
  3. ^ Feather, John; Sturges, Paul (2003). International Encyclopedia of Information and Library Science. Taylor & Francis. p. 72. ISBN 9780203403303. Retrieved 2013.
  4. ^ a b Wolf, Shelby; Coats, Karen; Enciso, Patricia A.; Jenkins, Christine (2010). Handbook of Research on Children's and Young Adult Literature. Routledge. p. 188. ISBN 9780203843543. Retrieved 2013.
  5. ^ Goldthwaite, John (1996). The Natural History of Make-Believe: A Guide to the Principal Works of Britain, Europe, and America. Oxford UP. p. 21. ISBN 9780198020851. Retrieved 2013.
  6. ^ Harvey, Karen (2004). Reading Sex in the Eighteenth Century: Bodies and Gender in English Erotic Culture. Cambridge UP. pp. 42-43. ISBN 9780521822350. Retrieved 2013.
  7. ^ Coley, W. B. (2003). "General Introduction". In W. B. Coley (ed.). Henry Fielding: Contributions to The Champion and Related Writings. Oxford UP. pp. xxiii-cxix. ISBN 9780198185109. Retrieved 2013.
  8. ^ McDowell, Paula (1998). The Women of Grub Street: Press, Politics, and Gender in the London Literary Marketplace, 1678-1730. Oxford UP. pp. 55, 115. ISBN 9780198184492. Retrieved 2013.

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