The Future of Manuscript Studies in Early Modern Poetry

By May, Steven W. | Shakespeare Studies, Annual 2004 | Go to article overview

The Future of Manuscript Studies in Early Modern Poetry


May, Steven W., Shakespeare Studies


ON SOME MORNINGS this past July all seats were taken before noon in the Manuscripts Room of the British Library. As a result and for the rest of the day anxious scholars paced the aisles waiting for ensconced readers to leave. I witnessed this sorry spectacle with a sense of melancholy tempered only by the realization that it was caused at least in part by the growing interest in manuscripts that has emerged in Renaissance literary studies over the past decade or so. Granted, not all seats in the Manuscripts Room were occupied by students of Renaissance poetry, yet some of them were, and overall, the seating crisis bodes well, I think, for what we can hope to learn in the near future about verse in Renaissance English manuscripts.

Study of this great body of poetry is easier today than ever before and it will soon become easier still. Archival catalogs that enumerate the contents of manuscript collections such as those at the British Library and Public Record Office (National Archives) are increasingly accessible online. Comprehensive reference works also expand our ability to locate individual poems. Margaret Crum's First-Line Index of Manuscript Poetry in the Bodleian Library (1969) was joined in 1998 by a microfiche edition of the First Line Indexes of Manuscript Poetry in the Folger Shakespeare Library and the Huntington Library. This catalog gives users a corresponding ability to locate transcribed verse at two major United States libraries. (1) In addition, substantial first-line indexes are available on-site for locating manuscript poems at the British Library and in the Osborn collection at Yale University's Beinecke Library. (2) Peter J. Seng's "Index to English Language Manuscript Verse" offers similar control over holdings of the Houghton Library at Harvard, while poems in the Brotherton Collection at the University of Leeds are indexed online at www.leeds.ac.uk/spcoll/bcmsv/intro.html. Finally, manuscript poetry at the Rosenbach Library, Philadelphia, can be searched with Edwin Wolf's unique rhyme-word index on cards that, again, must be consulted on-site.

The early Tudor poetry in all of these collections (and many others) is thoroughly analyzed for the most part in William A. Ringler's Bibliography and Index of English Verse in Manuscript 1501-1558. (3) This extensively cross-indexed work will be expanded to cover the rest of the Tudor age in 2004 with publication of Elizabethan Poetry: A Bibliography and First-Index of English Verse 1559-1603. In all, the Ringler indexes will provide scholars with control over more than thirty-eight thousand different poems, about one-third of which survive in manuscript sources. The Ringler indexes are, however, limited by transcription date to the period 1501-1603. For a broad range of manuscript works by individual Renaissance poets, texts of whatever date are cataloged in the first two parts of Peter Beal's Index of English Literary Manuscripts (1475-1700).

Scholarly opportunities in the field of manuscript poetry center on two primary venues: editions of poetry from manuscript sources and the analysis and editing of the manuscripts themselves as records of cultural history and poetic taste. Until very recently editors of Renaissance poets selected manuscripts as copy texts with great reluctance if at all. Helen E. Sandison based her edition of the Poems of Sir Arthur Gorges on British Library Egerton MS 3165, and P. J. Croft, his edition of the Poems of Robert Sidney on British Library Add. MS 58435 (4) because they had no other options. The latter manuscript is holograph and all its texts are unique copies, while Gorges personally supervised the compilation of the predominantly unique works in the Egerton anthology. No printed editions were available to supply copy for either poet. For authors whose works have survived in both print and manuscript, however, the editorial principles enunciated for Donne's poetry by Sir Herbert Grierson in 1912 held the field for most of the twentieth century. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Future of Manuscript Studies in Early Modern Poetry
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.