Manuscript Circulation

Arthur F. Marotti and Laura Estill

in The Oxford Handbook of Shakespeare

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199566105
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

 Manuscript Circulation

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In literary history and historical bibliography, Shakespeare's writing is associated with print culture – through the quartos of the plays, the various Folios or collected editions of his dramas beginning in 1623, the much reprinted narrative poems, Thomas Thorpe's 1609 Quarto of Shakespeare's Sonnets, John Benson's 1640 editorially distorted Poems: Written by Wil. Shakespeare, and other printed texts. This article discusses Shakespeare's poetry in manuscript and Shakespeare's plays in seventeenth-century manuscripts. After the publication of his plays and poems, Shakespearean texts were available for excerpting and appropriation by those who kept commonplace books or who compiled collections of verse. Nevertheless, if one looks for Shakespearean poems or for excerpts from the poetry and plays, one finds relatively few examples in the manuscript remains of the period. Those who copied Shakespearean poems, plays, or excerpts, for the most part, used printed editions as their sources rather than manuscript documents.

Keywords: Shakespeare's poetry; Shakespeare's writing; Shakespeare's Sonnets; William Shakespeare; Shakespearean plays

Article.  8947 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Shakespeare Studies and Criticism

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