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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: September ::
Images of Shakespeare's Quartos
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1702  Monday, 13 September 2004

[1]     From:   Michael Best <
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        Date:   Friday, 10 Sep 2004 10:13:47 -0700
        Subj:   Images of Shakespeare's Quartos

[2]     From:   Al Magary <
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        Date:   Friday, 10 Sep 2004 11:52:24 -0700
        Subj:   BL's Quartos Online


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Best <
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Date:           Friday, 10 Sep 2004 10:13:47 -0700
Subject:        Images of Shakespeare's Quartos

The British Library has just made public a remarkable research tool for
the community of Shakespeare scholars. They have put online images of
all their early Shakespeare quartos (93 copies of 21 plays). The basic
site, which includes a number of supporting materials and discussions,
is here:

    http://www.bl.uk/treasures/shakespeare/homepage.html

Or you can go directly to the texts:

    http://prodigi.bl.uk/treasures/shakespeare/search.asp

Here you can select a play and a specific quarto, or can compare two,
side by side. Each is displayed initially as a relatively small image,
but clicking on any of these will open a new window with a page that is
eminently readable.

I'm also happy to announce that the Internet Shakespeare Editions will
be making available a similar research tool in the near future: fully
searchable images of Folios 1 to 4. I plan to circulate the beta site
for these images to the Shaksper list before we make it public, so that
we can benefit from your feedback.

Michael Best
Coordinating Editor, Internet Shakespeare Editions
<http://ise.uvic.ca/>

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Al Magary <
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 >
Date:           Friday, 10 Sep 2004 11:52:24 -0700
Subject:        BL's Quartos Online

Shakespearean text lives online
Scholars can see how the text changes across editions
BBC News, September 10, 2004

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/3641880.stm

Fans of Shakespeare are getting the chance to thumb through some of the
earliest copies of the Bard's plays.

The British Library is putting online 93 high-resolution digitised
copies of 21 of Shakespeare's plays.  [Treasures in Full: Shakespeare in
Quarto is at http://www.bl.uk/treasures/shakespeare/homepage.html ]

The texts date from Shakespeare's lifetime and are pamphlet editions of
plays prepared to be sold after performances had finished.

The printed works show how the text evolved and cast doubt on the idea
of definitive versions of his plays.

Textual history

"The quartos were cheaply produced and would have been available for as
little as sixpence," said Moira Goff, head of British Collections
1501-1800 at the British Library.

ONLINE QUARTO TEXTS
Hamlet
Henry IV Part 1
Henry IV Part 2
Henry V
Henry VI Parts 2&3
Henry VI Part 3
King Lear
Love's Labour's Lost
The Merchant of Venice
The Merry Wives of Windsor
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Much Ado About Nothing
Othello
Pericles
Richard II
Richard III
Romeo and Juliet
The Taming of the Shrew
Titus Andronicus
Troilus and Cressida
The Two Noble Kinsman

As such the editions were prepared during Shakespeare's life and they
are likely to be more authentic versions of the plays than the First
Folio editions that were published seven years after the Bard's death in
1616.

The texts of the plays are thought to be the closest versions to the way
that the plays were actually written and performed.

"Given that Shakespeare left no manuscripts behind, the quartos are as
close as we are able to get to what he actually wrote," said Ms Goff.

"They take us behind the First Folio and different quarto versions of
the plays provide clues to Shakespeare's own revisions of his works."

Copy control

The quarto editions are thought to be Shakespeare's working drafts,
copies for rehearsals or records of versions remembered by actors.

Quartos were not produced in large numbers because they were not very
popular or profitable.

Many pages have contemporary annotations
Many of the quartos featured in the online collection are from
collections amassed by King George III and 18th century actor David Garrick.

The different versions of plays show that some of the most famous lines
in the Shakespearean canon changed from one performance to another.

For instance Hamlet's famous line: "To be, or not to be, that is the
question" appears in a quarto from 1605. However in an earlier edition
produced in 1603 it is written as: "To be, or not to be, I there's the
point".

The 21 plays featured on the website include many of Shakespeare's best
known works including King Lear, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Hamlet,
Love's Labours Lost, Romeo and Juliet and Othello.

Accompanying the online collection is background material, essays by
Shakespearean scholars, commentaries, images and sound clips.

Tools on the site allow scholars to compare different versions of the
same play to track textual changes.

_______________________________________________________________
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Hardy M. Cook, 
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