Dr Rebecca Bullard’s essay, ‘Gatherings in Exile: Interpreting the Bibliographical Structure of Natures Pictures Drawn by Fancies Pencil to the Life (1656)’, published in the journal English Studies, has been awarded the Sylvia Bowerbank Award 2013 by the International Margaret Cavendish Society. Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle, was an extraordinary woman — one of the first female scientists in England, she was also a political exile who spent the Civil Wars in continental Europe on account of her royalist beliefs. Rebecca’s essay takes a closer look at the physical composition of the large folio volumes that Cavendish published throughout the 1650s while she was in exile. It argues that we can read the material structure of Margaret Cavendish’s volume — the way it was constructed out of folded and bound sheets of paper — as a form of autobiography.
Like many researchers at the University of Reading, Rebecca is interested in tracing the ways in which the physical or material aspects of early modern books (from the period 1500-1700) might be read and interpreted alongside their literary characteristics.