The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0320  Monday, 8 July 2013


From:        Zackariah Long <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         June 28, 2013 12:15:15 PM EDT

Subject:     Advice for Student Working on Textual Editing


Dear colleagues,


I have an excellent undergraduate student who is interested in textual editing (not in my bailiwick). This summer he is working in the Special Collections section of our library and has been inspecting our copy of the Second Folio. He’s noticed some irregularities in the Title and Effigies pages—namely, that they don’t seem to come from the same version (there is other evidence that this particular folio was assembled out of different pieces), and that whatever version it is, it doesn’t seem to be the same one that at least some textual scholars think it is. 


In any event, the student is interested in exploring further the peculiarities of this Second Folio’s front matter and was looking for guidance about resources to which he might turn, or, should he happen to make any interesting discoveries, venues in which it might be appropriate to disseminate his findings. I have included a brief description of his initial findings below, in case you’d like more details. If you have any suggestions for him, I’d certainly be grateful for your advice. 


Thanks so much.



Zack Long




Dear Dr. Long,


Thank you very much for your help. Here is a preliminary draft of the two paragraphs which outline the problem in our copy:


“With the number of different distributors, it is no surprise that there are many variant versions of the second folio. Both the title page and the “Effigies” page—the one containing Milton’s poem—have multiple versions, the chronology of which have been hotly contested. If you believe Robert Metcalf Smith, the title page in our copy is one of the latest versions. According to William B. Todd, on the other hand, our title page is from the second state of the first printing. Our Effigies page is, according Smith the oldest, and according to Todd one of more recent ones. Whichever bibliographer you agree with, however, it is clear that our title page and Effigies page do not match.


Another interesting feature of our copy is the page facing the title page. It contains, as do other complete copies of second folio, a short poem by Ben Jonson addressed “To the Reader.” In our copy this poem is handwritten, not printed as it is in others. This oddity, taken with the incongruity of our Title and Effigies pages, lead to the conclusion that our copy was compiled from parts of multiple different copies.”


Any advice on where to proceed to confirm my conclusion or to disprove Todd and Smith’s chronologies would be helpful.


Because these write-ups are intended for a non-specialist audience I left out some of the specifics. The classifications of our Title and Effigies pages are, according to Smith, Allot 4 and Effigies A, respectively. According to Todd they are Ib and II respectively. 


I hope that I’ve provided enough information, but if you need anything else please let me know?


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