One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A woman who sells or distributes books or other printed material; a female bookseller; specifically (a) a female hawker or distributor of newspapers, pamphlets, etc.; compare "mercury woman" (now historical); (b) a woman who sells books door to door.
2A woman who loves literature or reading; a female book expert or collector; compare "bookman". Also (occasionally): a female writer; a woman of letters.
Mid 17th century; earliest use found in John Lilburne (?1615–1657), Leveller. From book + woman, partly after bookman.
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