The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0817 Thursday, 28 April 2005
From: John Webb <
Date: Thursday, 28 Apr 2005 10:37:05 +0100
Subject: William Jaggard and His Shakespeare Bibliography
Every fortnight one of the staff at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust's
Records Office writes a popular article for publication in the Stratford
Herald. This is a brief summary of the article published in the issue of
28th April 2005:
William Jaggard and his Shakespeare Bibliography
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has recently acquired a copy book,
containing some 2000 letters which were written by William Jaggard
(1867-1947). Convinced that he was a descendant of the famous William
Jaggard, who in 1623 had printed Shakespeare's First Folio, his ambition
was to establish a bookshop and set up a printing press in the poet's
native town of Stratford. This he achieved in 1909, when he opened his
'Shakespeare Press' at no. 4 Sheep Street.
Jaggard was already well known in the town due to his passionate
admiration of Shakespeare: indeed, he had been labouring for many years
on a remarkable project, a 'Shakespeare Bibliography', to contain, as he
put it, 'every known issue of the writings of our national poet and of
recorded opinion thereon in the English Language'. His was not the first
attempt at such a task but it was certainly the most successful and his
work, filling over 700 tightly-packed pages, has never been superseded.
It was eventually published in 1911 and, not surprisingly, is mentioned
many times in the letter book.
This was not the only Herculean task on which Jaggard was then engaged.
He had also been grappling for many years with an index to a periodical,
first published in 1887, called 'Book Prices Current', which listed
every book sold at auction, its price and its buyer. The work involved
in compiling a manual index to over 33,000 titles is mind-boggling but
it eventually came to fruition in 1909. Not surprisingly, as the letter
book reveals, this was a task which tested his mental and physical
powers to their limits.
Jaggard undoubtedly knew a lot about books, and about Shakespeare in
particular, but he had very strong opinions and did not suffer fools
gladly; nor, it seems, anyone else who disagreed with him. The letters
document several long-running feuds: one was with the Liverpool branch
of the Dickens Fellowship, whom he accused of indulging in frivolous
pursuits when it should have been discussing the work of a great English
The article in this week's Stratford Herald also describes some other
stories about Jaggard, and includes a picture of one of the pages of the
copy book, which is actually a letter written by Jaggard to the owner of
the Stratford Herald at the time.
Incidentally, the main front page headline and story in the Herald this
week is titled "Shakespeare Portrait is c19th fake". It describes the
story behind the Flowers portrait, which is the subject of the "Fake
Flower" SHAKSPER thread. There's virtually nothing new in this
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