Sample Stationer’s Bio-bibliographical Note

[[So far — notes and draft only! I have not done exhaustive research, nor have I turned my notes into proper prose.]]

Authority Name: Okes, Nicholas

Variant Names: N. Okes, Nicholas Okes, Nich. Okes, Nicholas de Quercubus

Date of Apprenticeship: 1596 (BBTI)

Date of Freedom: 1603 (BBTI)

Death: 1645 (Blayney 313; Pantzer 129; BBTI)

British Book Trade Index Entries: 100267; 51187; 19350

Trade(s): Printer

London Locations (view on MoEML map)

  • “dwelling neere Holborne bridge” (STC 16623a.5; 1607)
  • “dwelling in Foster Lane” (STC ???; ????)
  • “dwelling in little St. Bartholmews, in the Well-yard” (STC 593; 1639)

Shop Sign(s): “at the signe of the Hand” (STC 24313.3; 1609) [list other shop signs, STC numbers, and dates as relevant]

Biographical Information

Nicholas Okes was a master printer in London, active from 1607 until his death in 1645. Okes apprenticed with Stationer William King in 1596, appears to have been transferred to Richard Field, and took the freedom in 1603 (Mulholland 193). In 1607, he purchased the printing rights, ornaments, and press equipment from printers George and Lionel Snowdon. Paul Mulholland speculates that Okes may have been a journeyman in the Snowdons’ printing house. His son John Okes joined the business and eventually succeeded to Nicholas’s printing rights.

London Locations and Shop Signs

[Write a paragraph here about where Okes lived in London, when he moved, and what shop signs he used. Embed a map of the locations from MoEML.]

moemlAgas (1).png

STC 10582. Used by permission of the Folger Shakespeare Library under a CC BY-SA 4.0 Licence.

He frequently used a woodcut ornament depicting oak leaves, as on the title page of STC 11370 [[get from LUNA]].

Print Output

[Write a few paragraphs here about the types of texts that Okes printed.] He printed Thomas Dekker’s The Gvls Horne-booke in 1609, probably for R. Sergier (a publisher for whom he had printed texts before).

Other plays: Middleton and Dekker’s The Roaring girl (STC 17908; 1611); Robert Daborne’s A Christian turn’d Turke (STC 6184; 1612); Dekker and Webster’s Sir Thomas Wyat STC 6538; 1612);

Mayoral shows:  Dekker’s Troia-Noua triumphans (STC 6530; 1612),


[Write a few paragraphs here about the publishers and other printers he worked with.] He printed sermons and exegetical works for Simon Waterson (STC 25797, STC 11187; 23101) — works with titles like The sale of salt. Or The seasoning of souls (STC 23101).

[Flesh out my description of his relationship with other printers and publishers. Add a paragraph about his disastrous partnership with John Norton.]

Arthur Johnson (1611)

Henry Rockit

Nicholas Bourne

He took on XX commissions for the Company of Stationers: Fiue hundred points of good husbandry (STC 24388; 1610); Certaine epistles of Tully (STC 5304; 1611); Stow’s The Abridgement of the English chronicle (STC 23331; 1611).

Long relationship with Thomas Heywood — Apology for Actors — printed The Golden Age (STC 13325; 1611),



His career has been well studied because of his printing of the so-called “Pied-Bull” quarto of King Lear, which Okes printed for Nathaniel Butter in 1608 (STC 22292). All studies of Okes are indebted to Peter Blayney’s monograph on Okes’ printing of this quarto of Lear. [Add more.]


Bawcutt, N. W. “A Crisis of Laudian Censorship: Nicholas and John Okes and the Publication of Sales’s An Introduction to a Devout Life in 1637.” Library 1.4 (2000): 403-438. DOI 10.1093/library/1.4.403.

BBTI (British Book Trade Index).

Blayney, Peter W. M. The Texts of King Lear and their Origins: Nicholas Okes and the First Quarto. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1982.

Blayney, Peter W. M. “The Prevalence of Sharing Printing in the Early Seventeenth Century.” The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 67 (1973): 437-442.

Brooks, Douglas A. “King Lear (1608) and the Typography of Literary Ambition.” Renaissance Drama 30 (1999/2001): 133-159.

Brown, John Russell. “A Proof-Sheet from Nicholas Okes’ Printing-Shop.” Studies in Bibliography 11 (1958):  228-231.

Creigh, Jocelyn C. “George Wither and the Stationers: Facts and Fiction.” The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 74 (1980): 49-57.

Dane, Joseph A. “Perfect Order and Perfected Order: The Evidence from Press-Variants of Early Seventeenth-Century Quartos.” The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 90.3 (1996): 272-320.

Heywood, Thomas. An Apology for Actors. London: 1612, STC

Johnson, Paula. “Jacobean Ephemera and the Immortal Word.” Renaissance Drama 8 (1977): 151-171.

Mulholland, Paul A. “Nicholas Okes (London: 1607-1645).” The British Literary Book Trade, 1475-1700. Vol. 170 of the Gale Dictionary of Literary Biography. 193-198.

Pantzer, Katharine F. A Printers and Publishers’ Index; Other Indexes and Appendices; Cumulative Addenda and Corrigenda. Vol. 3 of A Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England, Scotland, and Ireland, and of English Books Printed Abroad, 1475-1640. First compiled by A. W. Pollard and G. R. Redgrave. London: Bibliographical Society, 1991. Print.

Rude, Donald W., and Lloyd E. Berry. “Tanner Manuscript No. 33: New Light on the Stationers’ Company in the Early Seventeenth Century.” The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 66 (1972): 105-134.

Weiss, Adrian. “A ‘Fill-In’ Job: The Textual Crux and Interrupted Printing in Thomas Middleton’s The Triumphs of Honor and Virtue (1622).”

Winger, Howard W., and Susan M. Flynn. “The Cover Design.” The Library Quarterly: Information, Community, Policy 50.2 (1980): 242-243.