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Allen [née Howse; other married name Chapman], Hannah (fl. 1632–1664), bookseller, was probably the daughter of Robert Howes, bookseller and bookbinder, and his wife, Anne, who baptized a daughter, Anne, on 26 December 1619 in St Botolph, Aldgate, London. She married the bookseller Benjamin Allen (d. 1646) on 2 April 1632 at St Katharine by the Tower and a son, Benjamin, was baptized on 9 August 1635 at St Olave, Hart Street. A daughter, mentioned in Benjamin's will, has not been traced.

After her first marriage Hannah lived and worked in London at The Crown in Pope's Head Alley, an area known for its radical bookshops. Her brother may have been the bookbinder Samuel Howes, who was apprenticed to the Allens' neighbour Henry Overton and who used a Pope's Head Alley address. It is not until after Benjamin's death in May 1646 that Hannah's role in the business becomes prominent. Left £150 in Benjamin's will, and with two children to support, she inherited a business already established as sympathetic to Baptist, Independent, and millenarian publishing. She kept on Benjamin's apprentice of three years, , bound John Allen in 1646, and took a third apprentice, John Garfield, in 1647. Chapman was freed as a stationer in November 1650 and by 12 September of the following year he and Hannah were married. A son, Livewell, was baptized on 2 June 1652 and a daughter, Patience, on 6 December 1653, both at St Mary Abchurch.

Between August 1646 and January 1651 Hannah issued about sixty books and pamphlets. Many of her imprints show her working with other stationers, notably Matthew Simmons, Henry Overton, and John Rothwell. Her publications with the printer Simmons suggest some kind of partnership in the early phase of her career, but from the beginning of 1649 her use of a great variety of printers suggests increasing financial independence and confidence. Leona Rostenberg's presentation of her is thoroughly misleading in ignoring her development of the business. While some of the works published by Hannah Allen were by authors previously published by Benjamin (such as Jeremiah Burroughes, Nicholas Lockyer, William Greenhill, Samuel Richardson, Samuel Chidley, John Cotton, and Richard Mather), her total output suggests that Hannah moved the business in a more millenarian, radical, and eventually Fifth Monarchist direction. She was the first publisher of William Cradock, Henry Jessey, and Vavasour Powell, and brought out books by, among others, Thomas Manton, Thomas Brookes, Richard Kentish, and John Robotham. She published several topical pamphlets relating to the army, reports of Indian conversions in New England and Taiwan, and Mannasseh ben Israel's plea for readmission of the Jews, The Hope of Israel (1650). In Jessey's The Exceeding Riches of Grace (1647) she is reported as visiting Sarah Wight's bedside in the company of other local tradeswomen; Wight's other visitors included the prophet Anna Trapnel, the religious leaders Thomas Goodwin, John Simpson, Nicholas Lockyer, and Walter Cradock, and Captain Harrison and Praisegod Barbon.

After her second marriage Hannah's name disappears from imprints and from Stationers' Company records, except for the freeing of apprentices in 1654 and 1655, but it is likely that she still played an important role. She was perhaps ten years older and certainly much more experienced in bookselling than Livewell Chapman. Chapman was often absent in the late 1650s and early 1660s, imprisoned in Ludgate or the Gatehouse and, in 1662, fleeing abroad. At such times she was no doubt in sole charge of the business. In 1663 she was suspected of managing the printing of The Face of the Times by Sir Henry Vane, and when Chapman was released from prison in May 1664 it was on security that ‘neither he nor his wife’ publish or disperse illegal books (TNA: PRO, SP 29/98/25). Imprisonments and fines ruined Chapman's business, his last publication appearing in 1664. If Hannah can be identified as the ‘widow Hannah Chapman’ listed in the Stationers' Company poor book from 1678 to 1705, then she lived in poverty to a great age.

Maureen Bell


M. Bell, ‘Hannah Allen and the development of a puritan publishing business, 1646–51’, Publishing History, 26 (1989), 5–66 · ESTC · G. E. B. Eyre, ed., A transcript of the registers of the Worshipful Company of Stationers from 1640 to 1708, 3 vols. (1913–14) · H. Jessey, The exceeding riches of grace advanced by the spirit of grace, in an empty nothing creature, viz. Mris Sarah Wight (1647) · L. Rostenberg, ‘Sectarianism and revolt: Livewell Chapman, publisher to the Fifth Monarchy’, Literary, political, scientific, religious and legal publishing, printing and bookselling in England, 1551–1700: twelve studies (1965), 203–36 · TNA: PRO, state papers · will, TNA: PRO, PROB 11/196, sig. 57 [Benjamin Allen] · Greaves & Zaller, BDBR · IGI