History of Material Texts Seminar, Lent Term 2020

Seminar Series;

Friday 7 February, 2-5pm
Alison Richard Building SG2 
Re-thinking the Book
A CMT 10th anniversary collaboration with the CRASSH ‘Re-‘ project, starring Juliet Fleming, Alexandra Gillespie, Deidre Lynch, Gill Partington and Adam Smyth 

Thursday 20 February, 5pm  
Board Room, Faculty of English 
Susanna Berger (University of Southern California) and Bill Sherman (Warburg Institute) in conversation

Thursday 5 March, 5pm
Board Room, Faculty of English 
Drew Milne (Cambridge), ‘The Artefacts of Poetry in the Era of Digital Reproduction: Towards a Poetics of Small Press Publishing’ 

All welcome

Souvenirs of ‘Souvenirs of Italy’

Blog;

A couple of weeks ago, the CMT and the Cambridge Bibliographical Society finally managed to organise a long-promised site visit to Audley End House and the ‘Souvenirs of Italy’ exhibition, curated by Abigail Brundin of the Department of Italian and Dunstan Roberts, Praeceptor in English at Corpus Christi College.

At the heart of their investigations was the figure of Richard Aldworth Neville, 2nd Lord Braybrooke, who went on a Grand Tour to Italy in the 1770s. He has never been part of the official narrative of the house, as it is presented to visitors, but he slowly rose to prominence as research on the library proceeded. Here he is shown holding a book in a portrait done by George Romney c. 1779.

Richard Neville had Europe and Italy in the blood; his father met his mother, Magdalena Calandrini, in Geneva when he was on his own Grand Tour in the 1740s. She died in childbirth in 1750, and her husband began to fill the pages of a massive black-edged mourning book in her memory (despite the evident depth of his sadness, he didn’t get very far through the volume).

The exhibition featured some documents from Richard’s childhood, including a cute account book that he kept at Eton, which included a foretaste of Italy in a reference to ‘Biscuits savoy and naples’. But the main focus was his Grand Tour. Before he set out, Richard drew detailed maps showing the distances between towns. This tempting example gets us from Florence to Rome, via Siena and Viterbo:

Richard kept a diary of his travels, which includes numerous sketches, including this picture of the litter that he was carried in as he descended the Alps. (He expresses some sympathy for the carriers).

As the exhibition showed, Richard’s travels are richly documented, in souvenirs from Pompeii, in letters describing the paintings he had bought, and in books. The archival gatherings in the display cases provided the context for a picture on the walls of Audley End, in which Richard and his schoolfriends are shown admiring classical statuary. This picture was done to celebrate a six-week stay in Rome, when the group of friends undertook a course in classical antiquities.

For years after their return from Italy, these old friends continued to cement their relationships by exchanging tokens of classical culture, such as this book given to Richard by the author William Young.

Although there are not many Audley End books that can be assigned with full assurance to Richard, it is likely that some of the substantial collections of Italian literature now held at the house were acquired by him.

The ‘Souvenirs of Italy’ project, which followed on from an earlier project at Belton House in Lincolnshire, was a great example of how taking country house libraries more seriously can bring their buildings and collections into a new focus. As a side-benefit of the project, a couple of Audley End books owned by the Tudor translator Thomas Hoby also came back into view. These were made the subject of a virtual exhibition at the Cambridge Digital Library that is also well worth a visit.

Our thanks to Abi, Dunstan and Peter Moore, curator of collections at Audley End, for showing us round!

Collaborative Doctoral Award: Oxford/Queens’ College Cambridge

News;

Applications are invited for an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award in partnership with Queens’ College Cambridge Old Library entitled: Exploring Humanist Networks of Knowledge and Reading in Queens’ College Old Library.

The studentship will be based in the Faculty of English at the University of Oxford. The successful applicant will work on a collaborative project led by Dr William Poole <william.poole@new.ox.ac.uk>, Faculty of English (Oxford), co-supervisor, Dr Tim Eggington, Queens’ College Cambridge <tje25@cam.ac.uk>

Available for 2020-21 entry. The deadline for applications is 10 January 2020.

For full details see the OOCDTP pages:
https://www.oocdtp.ac.uk/exploring-humanist-networks-knowledge-and-reading-queens-college-old-library

History of Material Texts Seminar, Michaelmas Term 2019

Seminar Series;

31 October 2019, 5 pm, Board Room, Faculty of English

Jason Scott-Warren (Cambridge), ‘On First Looking into Milton’s Shakespeare’

28 November 2019, 5 pm, Board Room, Faculty of English

Drew Milne (Cambridge), ‘The Artefacts of Poetry in the Era of Digital Reproduction: Towards a Poetics of Small Press Publishing’

All welcome!

Milton’s Shakespeare

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There has been a small bounce for the CMT website in the wake of the identification of Milton’s copy of the first folio of Shakespeare:

The amount of press coverage given to the discovery, since the news was first disseminated by The Guardian last week, has been astonishing. Claire Bourne has collected some of it here, but hasn’t yet added articles from Germany, Italy, Mexico and elsewhere. We made it to the front page, ‘above the fold’, of the Philadelphia Inquirer, and were offered as a sign that ‘it wasn’t all bad’ (despite Boris and rising tensions in the Middle East) on the first page of ‘The Week’. There was also some radio coverage, on NPR in the US and ‘Front Row’ in the UK. Commentators were particularly interested in the role of digital scholarship in the dissemination and approval of the find, and there was some effervescent writing about just how ‘totally and thoroughly awesome’ the survival of this book is.

Things are now quietening down, so there’s a bit of time for us to catch our breaths and start on the hard work. Claire and I are going to collaborate on putting the full story together–hammering out the evidence for the identification, establishing whatever can be established about the dating of the annotations, and thinking about their broader implications for readers of Shakespeare, Milton, and both together. It promises to be fun but also pretty demanding! Watch this space for further developments.

AMARC Autumn Meeting

News;

Public Engagement and Special Collections

Weston Library Lecture Theatre, Oxford 

4th October 2019, 10.45-16.30

Through six presentations by academics, curators and education professionals, the Association of Manuscripts and Archives in Research Collections will be exploring various approaches that are being developed in order to share special collections with the general public and the challenges and benefits of such activities.

All are welcome to attend.

Registration (includes tea/coffee and lunch): 

£20 AMARC members / £15 AMARC student members / £25 non-members.

To register, go to:

tinyurl.com/AMARCOxford2019

Milton’s Shakespeare?

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It’s always annoying when someone tries to claim that they’ve discovered a lost literary artefact. I was myself a little bit brutal when, five years ago, we were treated to the supposed rediscovery of Shakespeare’s dictionary. In this as in other cases, there’s usually a lot of wishful thinking, plus copious spinning of the evidence to make it seem plausible, and elision of anything that doesn’t seem to fit. However, I’m going to make my own unwise pronouncement on the basis of just a few hours of research. I’m going to claim to have identified John Milton’s copy of the Shakespeare First Folio of 1623.

In a recent article (‘Vide Supplementum: Early Modern Collation as Play-Reading in the First Folio’, in Kathy Acheson, ed., Early Modern English Marginalia [London: Routledge, 2019]), Claire M. L. Bourne offers a rich analysis of the manuscript annotations in a copy of the Folio now at the Free Library of Philadephia. She demonstrates that the annotations are highly unusual in character, having been added by a reader who was very attentive to misprints and metrical errors, and who in two cases–those of Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet–was comparing the Folio text with the text supplied by a Quarto edition of each play (Q5 [1637] in the case of the former, and one of Q3-5 [1611-37] for the latter). In several cases, the reader corrected the Folio from the Quartos, but his emendations were by no means slavish, and were accompanied by other textual changes that seem to have been inspired by his own sense of what was needed in the particular context.

The reader also added a few smart cross-references, to Tottel’s Songs and Sonnettes for the Gravedigger’s song in Hamlet, and to Samuel Purchas’s Purchas his Pilgrimes for the identity of The Tempest‘s deity Setebos; and he supplied the second verse of the song that is sung to Mariana in Measure for Measure. (Someone, perhaps a different reader or the same reader using a display hand, transcribed the Prologue to Romeo and Juliet, which is missing from the Folio text). Finally, our reader added marginal markings to all of the plays except for Henry VI 1-3 and Titus Andronicus. Bourne suggests that these are not marks for cuts but are instead commonplace markers, indicating passages of special note or broad applicability. On the basis of the various texts cited and of the binding, which likely dates from the early Restoration, Bourne tentatively dates the annotations between c. 1625 and some point in the 1660s.

So this reader is intelligent and assiduous. But the evidence that makes me want to suggest that it’s Milton is strictly palaeographical. This just looks a lot like Milton’s hand. Here I’m going to offer some words and letter-forms for comparison. Let’s start small and relatively unrevealing, with ‘the’. On the left we have the Folio, on the right the Trinity manuscript.

With that citation on the left, and its neatly spaced reference by volume and page to Purchas, we might compare this citation of Machiavellis’ Arte della Guerra in Milton’s commonplace book in the British Library:

(The commonplace book also makes reference to the same first volume of Purchas, but since everyone read Purchas this may not mean very much. Having a cross-reference for a reference to Setebos does seem quite sophisticated, though).

Now let’s look at some more specific words. At one point in the text of Measure for Measure, Milton struggles to make sense of Angelo’s claim that ‘these blacke Masques / Proclaime an en-shield beauty ten times louder / Then beauty could displaied’. He changes ‘en-shield’ to ‘enshrin[ed]’ or ‘enshrin[‘d]’ (the page has been trimmed in binding, so not all of the word survives). Here is the word in the Folio, and next to it is ‘shrine’ from the Trinity MS (sadly wordpress keeps rotating the images, so please crank your head through 90 degrees):


Another comparison: ‘morne’ (Trinity) and ‘morn’ (Hamlet):



Those are perhaps pretty equivocal (it’s something about the tidy separation and discreteness of the letter forms, rather than the forms themselves, that might make us wonder). But here’s ‘Hence will I’ (in the Folio) and ‘will I trie’ (in Trinity):

And here’s ‘he’ (Trinity MS/Folio), which seems to me quite telling in the way that the right foot of the ‘h’ doesn’t quite get to the ground before it heads up into the ‘e’:

While we are going minute, we might also note that Milton has an enlarged italic hand, sometimes rather scratchy, sometimes quite elegant, that he uses for headings and suchlike. Compare the ‘R’ in the speech-heading for ‘Romeo’ in the Folio and another ‘R’ from the commonplace book:

Finally we could look at the way Milton corrects things, in the Philadelphia Folio and in the corrected copy of ‘Lycidas’ in Cambridge University Library (Adv.d.38.5). It would be wrong to claim any easy overlap here–one of Bourne’s points is that the annotator of the Folio seems to be adding new readings while leaving the original to stand, so as to suggest that both are possible. But still, here is ‘Lycidas’ on the left and the Folio on the right:

Obviously, in the style of this kind of analysis, I’ve suppressed all the information that doesn’t with fit my claims. One interesting thing (confessing for a moment) is that the annotator of the Folio seems to use the ‘modern’ Italianate form of ‘e’ rather than the ‘Greek’ epsilon-shaped ‘e’, which Milton uses a lot in the poems of the Trinity manuscript, though rather less in the prose. Wishfully, I’d suggest that this might be due to his desire to imitate the forms of print when annotating. Palaeographers have also suggested that Milton dropped Greek-‘e’ after he returned from a visit to Italy in 1639, so that detail might also allow us to date the annotations.

The Catalogue of English Literary Manuscripts lists nineteen books that have been thought to survive from Milton’s library, though many of those are lost, spurious or disputed. The description of the annotations in one of these, Heraclides of Pontus’ Allegoriae (1544), now held at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, sounds at least promising. One description refers to lots of curved vertical pen-strokes, perhaps akin to those that fill the margins of the Folio. But nobody, in the age before digital cameras, took photos of curved vertical pen-strokes.

If this book is what I think it is, it’s quite a big deal, since Shakespeare was, as we know, a huge influence on Milton. The younger poet paid tribute to his forebear in an epitaph published in the Second Folio of 1632, in which he testified to the ‘wonder and astonishment’ that Shakespeare created in his readers. Milton learnt so much from Shakespeare–how to write nature poetry; how to create charismatic villains like Comus, or Satan in Paradise Lost; how to sculpt taut, tense argumentative exchanges between speakers locked in verbal combat–though their relationship has often described as fraught and agonistic in itself, with Milton struggling to break free from his brilliant precursor. Perhaps the most obvious objection to my proposal is that the Free Library of Philadelphia Folio isn’t quite interesting enough to be Milton’s. Wouldn’t his copy be bristling with cross-references, packed with smart observations and angrily censorious comments? To this I have no response, except that maybe (as the epitaph claims) he was just wowed and struck dumb by Shakespeare. Or perhaps he saved those kinds of interventions for his Quartos…  

Postscript 11/9/19: I’ve received a very positive response from several distinguished Miltonists who are confident that this identification is correct–and have been roundly rebuked for understating the significance of the discovery. On the basis of his knowledge of the development of Milton’s hand, Will Poole (who a few years back discovered the poet’s copy of Boccaccio’s Life of Dante) has suggested that the earliest handwritten addition (the prologue to Romeo and Juliet) probably dates from the early 1630s, but that the bulk of the annotations were likely made in the 1640s. So this is probably a re-reading (or several re-readings) rather than a first reading, coinciding with a time of political upheaval, when Milton was writing some of his most powerful polemical prose. My concluding comments on how the volume may be ‘not interesting enough’ will also need to be revised, given the density and detail of the annotation to this copy. More to follow.

Postscript 12/9/19: Am adding in some higher-quality images below; these were generously shared by Claire M. L. Bourne, and are posted here with the kind permission of the Free Library of Philadephia.

The second stanza of the song sung to Mariana in Measure for Measure, written in at the end of the play in the Free Library of Philadelphia First Folio and trimmed by the binder. The song, with this stanza, circulated in manuscript and was printed for the first time in John Fletcher’s The Bloody Brother (1639) (Bourne 2019, 205)
The prologue to Romeo and Juliet, transcribed on the last page of Titus Andronicus because it was omitted from the First Folio.
A textual emendation in Anthony and Cleopatra.
A textual emendation in Macbeth. ‘Senie’ is senna; in the New World of English Words (1658), compiled by Milton’s nephew Edward Phillips, there is an entry for ‘Senie, the leaf of a medicinable herb which purgeth cholerick and melancholick humours’.
A textual emendation in Macbeth; Milton suggests that the correct reading may be ‘Seare, and yellow Leafe’.
A textual emendation in Hamlet, which shows Milton consulting a Quarto edition of the play to repair the text (Bourne 2019, 220)


A new Gabriel Harvey at Cambridge University Library

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I’ve just written a report for the Cambridge Digital Library about a book that is about to go live on their website. It’s a new acquisition for the UL, with generous assistance from the Friends of the National Libraries, and a tiny but very exciting purchase. Copying it here for those who can’t wait.

“Adv.e.8.1 is a copy of A Mervaylous Discourse Upon the Lyfe, Deedes, and Behaviours of Katherine de Medicis, Queene Mother, a translation of an anonymous  European bestseller which was published in London in 1575 with a false imprint (‘At Heydelberge’). It is a diminutive octavo volume with a text block measuring 129 x 89 mms and it has been harshly trimmed, probably when it acquired its current mid-nineteenth century binding. Nonetheless, that trimming failed to excise the evidence of an extraordinarily intensive reading of the volume by the Cambridge scholar and bibliophile Gabriel Harvey (1552/3–1631). This hitherto unrecorded book from his collection offers a unique record of an English analysis of recent French history and extends our knowledge of one of the most conspicuous and fascinating early modern annotators.

Issued soon after the death of Charles IX in 1574, the Discours merveilleux de la vie, actions et deportmens de Catherine de Medicis, roine mere (1575) attracted substantial attention across Europe. The Universal Short-Title Catalogue currently identifies seven French editions before 1580, along with early translations into Dutch, German, Latin and English. The text offers a blow-by-blow account of ‘the pernicious and wicked practices of the Queene’, emphasising her ruthlessness, her willingness to exploit religious divisions to increase her power, and the threat that her machinations pose to the realm of France.

The different shades of ink in the annotations may point to two or more readings, which were probably undertaken during Harvey’s time as a Fellow of Pembroke College, Cambridge; a note on the final leaf is dated 1578. Harvey’s attention is throughout closely focused on the political principles that can be drawn out of Katherine’s life story. The indexed notes on the verso of the title-page offer a preliminary guide to the nature of his interests. He saw Catherine as an embodiment of amoral modernity, embodying precepts from ‘Machiavels pragmatical Politiques’, and ‘Aretinos licentious Ethiques’, all of which were put in the shade by ‘Her own private, and publique Experience in all ambitious, covetous, and voluptuous Practises of the world’. She was ‘In manner, thonly Curtisan Politique of France, In respect of whome, Bodin [is] but A schollar, & theorist’ (a note on H4v seems to refer to a meeting between Harvey and the political philosopher Jean Bodin). Harvey frequently proclaimed the superiority of action to contemplation, and he displays a kind of horrified admiration for Catherine’s unceasing villainy: ‘Evermore in actu: in esse: unhorsing other, & setling herself in the saddle: never owt of worke, at home, abrode; private, publique, of al sorts: fram’d to do, & undoo all thinges, at her pleasure, and for her advantage. In manner, th’only Polypragmatical of the world’. 

The copious marginal notes that follow are also darkly appreciative, relishing ‘Italian Practises’ (I3r) and acts of ‘deepe, & profounde dissimulation’ (F7r) and labelling the 1572 St Bartholomew’s Day massacre of Protestants a ‘Comicotragoedia’ or tragicomedy (G4r). Harvey also deploys his standard (but often mysterious) array of marginal symbols, including astrological symbols (e.g. Mars for war) and ‘J.C.’ (‘jurisconsultus’) for legal affairs. There are several glances at English politics, as when a discussion of whether a dying king as a right to appoint his successor leads Harvey to recall how ‘King Edward VI. ordeinid by will, the Lady Jane Grey; excluding his two sisters’ (L1r). The Comte de Retz, meanwhile, is ‘the Lord [Thomas] Cromwell in another kind’ (M3v). Harvey’s determination to be up-to-date is indicated by his use, on several occasions, of the word ‘assassination’ (E6v, E7r), a word which is not elsewhere attested before 1590.

Harvey notes on the title page that he also owns a French edition of the Discourse with the annotations of his patron Sir Thomas Smith; this book is currently unlocated.Virginia F. Stern’s 1979 study Gabriel Harvey: His Life, Marginalia and Library counts 155 works known to have belonged to him, not all of which are extant. One of the those books, an edition of Livy now in the Princeton University Library, formed the basis for a seminal article by Anthony Grafton and Lisa Jardine, ‘“Studied for Action”: How Gabriel Harvey Reed his Livy’ (1990), which showed that early modern reading was often communal and political rather than solitary and private. In the wake of this intervention, many more scholars have examined the nature of Harvey’s reading, and 14 of his books have now been published in digital facsimiles, with full transcriptions, on the ‘Digital Bookwheel’ of the Archaeology of Reading project (https://archaeologyofreading.org/). The present volume offers a fascinating addition to the corpus and an opportunity to extend our conversations about what reading has meant in the past, and what it means today.”

Congratulations!

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to Professor Simon Franklin, of the Department of Modern and Medieval Languages, on the publication by Cambridge University Press of his book on The Russian Graphosphere, 1450-1850. The book explores ‘the dynamic space of visible words’ as it mutated across the long early modern period, with detailed attention to changing scripts, languages and technologies. It promises a feast for anyone interested in material texts and the intersections between words and things. (See the blogpost on Simon’s talk to the CMT in 2014, https://www.english.cam.ac.uk/cmt/?p=3967)

For those at subscribing institutions, PDFs of the book are available on open access from Cambridge Core.


Friday 5th July: Visit to ‘Souvenirs of Italy’ exhibition at Audley End

Events;

You are warmly invited to join a CMT/Cambridge Bibliographical Society visit to the ‘Souvenirs of Italy’ exhibition at Audley End. 

Our party will meet at Audley End on Friday 5th July at 10, and will proceed to the library to see the exhibition, followed by a visit to the Howard Sitting Room to see the grand tour portrait. The tour, which will end at around 11.30, will be led by the exhibition organisers, Abigail Brundin and Dunstan Roberts, with the curator of collections at Audley End, Peter Moore.

Places are strictly limited; to sign up, please email Liam Sims (ls457@cam.ac.uk).

For more information about the exhibition, see https://www.english.cam.ac.uk/cmt/?cat=4