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SUOR MARIETTA

Quintus Curtius Rufus
(fl. 1st century CE).
Incomincia la Historia d’Alexandro Magno
figluolo di Philippo re di Macedonia
.
Florence: Dominican Nuns of San Jacopo di Ripoli, 1478.

Among the first women known to have been directly involved in the production of printed books were the Dominican nuns at the Convent of San Jacopo di Ripoli in Florence. Their press, operated under the direction of Fra Domenico da Pistoia, a Dominican monk with ties to the Florentine book trade, issued approximately one hundred different editions between 1476 and 1484. These included short devotional works, religious broadsides, and important literary texts.

The manuscript Diario (or daybook) of the San Jacopo di Ripoli printing shop records that the convent’s typesetting was done by a nun, Suor (Sister) Marietta. Fluent in Latin and Italian, she received modest wages for this skilled labor, money that went directly into her convent’s common fund. The exhibited book, the first vernacular edition of this early Latin biography of Alexander the Great, almost certainly was typeset by Suor Marietta. Working with only a single Roman typeface, she effectively emphasized the various headings by using all uppercase letters interspersed with x-shaped punctuation.