William Downing, printer of "Female Poems...by Ephelia" (1679)


Downing is listed as a bonafide London printer in Henry Plomer's Dictionary of Printers. In the late 1980s, James Mosely of St. Bride's Printing Library, London, generously identified for me the (conventional) typeface Downing used in printing "Ephelia"'s elegant octavo: Roman type, Great Cannon; italic type, James. None of Downing's other books uses the title-page mark which appears on the title-page of "Ephelia"'s book, suggesting its non-proprietary use in Downing and also its special use in this project. I have not found, to date, this same mark in any other English poetry-book of the period.

For online digital examples of Downing's work as a fine specimen of Restoration printing, see http://wally.rit.edu/cary/cc_db/17th_century/5.html. The author and/or conduit of the 'Ephelia' poems showed discriminating taste by placing the manuscript of Female Poems...by Ephelia in capable hands, those of printer Wm Downing and bookseller James Courtney ('Courtenay'). This doubtless was managed by a third party, a reliable and discreet agent of the powerful Villiers-Stuart court circle.