While Dr. Nadine Akkerman of Leiden University was examining letters sent by Elizabeth Stuart, Queen of Bohemia (Google books preview) during her exile in the Hague, she discovered that some were filled with secret codes.... Akkerman was intrigued as to why the queen would require such covert correspondence. This was her first encounter with the 17th-century female spy.Within England, Dr. Akkerman uncovered a network of more than sixty female spies. [more inside]
From the early modern period to the nineteenth century, one of the most popular forms of inexpensive literary entertainment was the chapbook. (The phenomenon was not limited to English-speaking countries.) Encompassing everything from nursery rhymes to shocking tales, chapbooks (also known as "small books." among other things) were targeted at both adults and children. Frequently, as in the case of Gothic chapbooks, these ephemeral books provided readers with (much shortened) access to popular novels. (Other chapbooks were more wholesome and/or educational in intent.) McGill Library and Ball State University have some of the most extensive chapbook collections now online.
The Civil War Journal of Nehemiah Wallington, digitized by the John Rylands Library, is one of the surviving diaries kept by this seventeenth-century Puritan. Although Wallington recorded a number of key events, like the execution of Archbishop Laud, the diary has garnered most attention for its report of the Chelmsford witch trials, overseen by Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins (enter "witchcraft" into the search box to see Wallington's account). For more of the intellectual context for early modern witch-hunting in the British Isles, see the Witches in Early Modern England and Survey of Scottish Witchcraft databases, as well as the handy collection of primary texts in Cornell's Witchcraft Collection.