University of Hertfordshire

By the same authors

Reforming a Careless World: The Cultural Significance of Josiah Woodward's 'Fair Warnings' (1707)

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

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Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFestschrift in Honour of Sabine Volk-Birke
Publication statusUnpublished - 2018
EventSymposium in Honour of Sabine Volk-Birke - Martin Luther University, Halle-Wittenberg, Germany
Duration: 19 May 201720 May 2017


ConferenceSymposium in Honour of Sabine Volk-Birke


Despite an extensive canon of popular religious writing and very active career supporting the causes of moral and educational reform, Church of England minister Josiah Woodward (1657-1712) – as John Spurr observes in his ODNB entry - ‘remains a shadowy figure whose personality and public role attracted less attention from contemporaries than might be expected’. This paper shall cast light on the significance of Woodward’s cultural contribution to early eighteenth-century conduct/didactic literature and, in particular, how his Fair Warnings to a Careless World constitutes a literary subgenre in its own right. ‘Fair Warnings’ anthologises, and thus stresses the importance of, deathbed confessions and ‘dying words’; it is marketed accordingly with a detailed frontispiece illustrating the era’s most famous deathbed confessor, the second Earl of Rochester and gathers together anecdotes, letters, poems and woodcuts on its subject. At least four editions (two during his lifetime) of the text attest to its contemporary popularity and the extent to which Woodward’s writing responds to the tastes of the reading public in an age of rapidly expanding print culture. Given this significance, this investigation shall also pose questions concerning why Woodward’s Fair Warnings, and the literary subgenre of deathbed anthology itself, did not attain the cultural longevity afforded to works such as Foxe’s Books of Martyrs or Janeway’s Token for Children.

ID: 13173065