Archival research

Lara M. Crowley

in The Oxford Handbook of John Donne

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199218608
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

 Archival research

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  • Literature
  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)
  • Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)


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Archival research on the works of John Donne is the essence of this article. ‘What Printing-presses yield we think good store, but what is writ by hand we reverence more’. Edmund Blunden's translation of Donne's Latin encomium of manuscripts reminds us that Donne composed poetry primarily for a manuscript medium. Traditionally, scholars prized his few extant holographs, but nonholographic copies of Donne's poetry and prose in numerous Renaissance verse miscellanies, commonplace books, and other manuscripts were relatively neglected by scholars prior to the nineteenth century, when pioneers such as Alexander B. Grosart and E. K. Chambers began to consult them. Although manuscript verse collections were often compiled during authors' lifetimes, frequently by members of their literary circles, printed verse collections were usually published posthumously and based on whichever literary manuscript editors or printing houses could obtain. Shami's exciting find illustrates that manuscript archives are rife with potential insights, even discoveries.

Keywords: research; archival research; Renaissance; Edmund Blunden; holographs; nonholographic copies

Article.  3807 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800) ; Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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