In 2016, the 400 year after William Shakespeare’s death, the Bodleian Library asked printers around the world to print his sonnets afresh. These are the results.
Mike Webb (Curator of Early Modern Archives and Manuscripts) writes:
The second Bodleian Students Editions catalogue is now available online through Early Modern Letters Online (EMLO). These letters were transcribed in the second of the Bodleian Libraries Manuscript and Textual Editing Workshops, held in the Centre for Digital Scholarship in the Weston Library on 1 December 2016. (Details of the workshop programme, along with an account of the first workshop, can be found here.)
The letters used in this workshop were in a volume of the Carte manuscripts, which mainly comprises the papers of James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormond (1610-1688), Lord Lieutenant of Ireland three times between 1643 and 1685. Six letters written by women to Ormond in April and May 1660 were selected, all in MS. Carte 214. Women used italic script in the 17th century as most were not taught the ‘secretary hand’ used in legal and administrative documents of the period, and often in private letters also. Italic hands are easier to read for those not formally trained in palaeography, and so more suitable for these workshops, which offer a wide-ranging introduction to undergraduates and postgraduates of all disciplines, many of whom had never previously worked with original manuscripts.
The Bodleian volume 4º Rawl. 566 is a bound set of 217 broadside ballads printed in the seventeenth century. The broadsides, half-folio sheets typical of ballad publications at the time, are attached by their left-hand edges and thus form an oblong book with the ballads reading on the recto of each leaf.
Full colour scans of each ballad in the volume can be seen on the Bodleian Ballads database, link here. http://ballads.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/collection/rawlinson
A vellum binding, damaged at the spine, encloses the volume, with Rawlinson’s bookplate inside the front cover.
The source of the volume before it came into Richard Rawlinson’s possession has not yet been discovered. The ballads themselves are in a fragile state. Several are torn or damaged, and some are repaired.
Inscriptions on the reverse of some ballads in the volume appear to show that, wherever it was held at the time, it was used on Sept. 23, 1720, by Benjamin Osborne and Elizabeth Townsen [Townsend?] to practice writing.
The image gallery below gives access to the full-resolution images of inscriptions in this volume.
The antiquary, author and bibliophile Anthony Wood (1632-1695) left, among other collections, several volumes of broadside ballads to the University of Oxford. These were bequeathed to the Ashmolean Museum and transferred in 1858 to the Bodleian Library.
Some of the broadside ballads in this collection bear manuscript annotations of various kinds, from childish pen trials to reference notes. The annotations are described and mostly transcribed in Nicolas Kiessling’s catalogue, The Library of Anthony Wood (Oxford: Oxford Bibliographical Society, 2002), in which Ballads are items 367-843.
What follows is a list of annotations found on the reverse of ballads in one volume, shelfmarked Wood 401. References are given to the entries in Kiessling’s catalogue in which the annotations are transcribed. An image gallery at the end of this post gives access to the full-resolution images.
Most of the ballads in the volume have been attached in the middle of the sheet, and thus occupy two numbered leaves of the volume, with the printed ballad visible on the verso of the first leaf and the recto of the following leaf. Annotations relating to each ballad are usually on the recto of the first leaf, i.e. on the blank page (in this volume) before the printed ballad.
The shepherd and the king, and of Gillian the shepherds wife
MS note on reverse: vide Malmsburiens. de Reg. Angl. lib. 2 – fol. 23. see ye 2d part of R. Parsons his conversions cap. 6. p. 418-419. [i.e. William of Malmesbury, Chronicle of the kings of England, and Persons, Robert, A treatise of three conversions of England … (1603)].
Robin Hood and the tanner; or, Robin Hood met with his match
With a page attached in Wood’s handwriting, citing historical and poetical references to Robin Hood by John Major and Michael Drayton
The wofull lamentation of Mistris Jane Shore, a Goldsmiths wife in London, sometimes King Edward the seconds Concubine, who for her wantan life came to a miserable end. Set forth for the example of all lewd women.
Woodcut pasted to recto of fol. 45
A memoriable [sic] song on the unhappy hunting in Chevy Chase between Earle Piercy of England and Earle Dowglas of Scoland [sic]
Annotations on a slip attached between fols. 46 and 47, and on recto of fol. 47
A true relation of the life and death of sir Andrew Barton, a pyrate and rover on the seas
Annotations on recto of fol. 55
The most rare and excellent history of the duchesse of Suffolks calamity
Annotations on recto of fol. 57
The dolefull dance and song of death; intituled, Dance after my pipe
Annotations on recto of fol. 60
Lord Willoughby; or, A true relation of a famous and bloody battel fought in Flanders
Annotations on recto of fol. 67
“The story of the Ld Willoughby following, is to be und[er]stood as done by Peregrine Bertie Lord Willoughby of Eresby, about 29. Reg. Elizab.\”
The life and death of famous Thomas Stukelie an English gallant in the time of Queen Elizabeth
The lamentable ditty of the little Mousgrove, and the Lady Barnet
Iohn Arm-strongs last good night
Murder upon murder, committed by Thomas Sherwood, alias, countrey Tom: and Elizabeth Evans, alias, Canbrye Besse
The initials A W in MS below the woodcut on the right side of the sheet; on the reverse of the backing paper is a MS note by Anthony Wood, showing descent of Holt family.
Britaines honour. In the two valiant Welchmen, who fought against fifteene thousand Scots, at their now comming to England
Pen-trials by Wood on the front of the ballad. On the reverse (fols 131 recto and 132 verso) are verses, drawings, and pen trials. A Bodleian note states that these were uncovered in 1881.
A new Spanish tragedy. Or, More strange newes from the narrow seas
Date “1640- or 41” on the front of the ballad. On the reverse (fols 137 recto and 138 verso) are verses, drawings, and pen trials, and one signature of Anthony Wood.
Images of most of the pages described, which are either the direct versos of the printed ballads, or the reverse of the blank papers onto which the ballads were pasted, are in the gallery included here.
Printed books belonging to Anthony Wood are found by the shelfmark ‘Wood’ in the online catalogue.
Wood’s manuscripts kept in the Bodleian are described here:
The Bodleian’s Bibliographical Press continues experimenting with techniques from the hand-press period. This transformation print [see pictures of the original] held at Bodleian MS Wood E 25(10) is one of several from the 17th and 18th centuries containing the same general theme under the title, ‘The beginning, progress, and end of man’. The Bodleian’s copy has the imprint, ‘Printed for J. Deacon, at the Angel in Guilt-spur Street‘. The same images appear in an edition at Harvard with the imprint, ‘London: Printed by E. Alsop for T. Dunster, 1654‘; another version, ‘Printed by B. Alsop for T. Dunster, 1650‘, is in the Thomason collection at the British Library. Several other versions exist, and the Bodleian also holds a manuscript version from the 18th century.
At Broadside Day 2017, in the Weston Library, Jacqui Reid-Walsh will speak about ‘The beginning, progress, and end of man’ as an interactive text.
Meanwhile, Richard Lawrence at the Bodleian’s Bibliographical Press is experimenting with printing transformations using two blocks; here using reproductions in zinc based on the Bodleian’s copy. From this experiment it appears that the transformation could be achieved using two blocks, ‘Adam’ and the ‘mermaid’; one printed on the centre of the sheet, and the other printed over this on the outside, after the upper and lower edges were folded to meet in the middle. As further evidence for this hypothesis, the Bodleian’s copy shows blocks printed over the deckled edges of the paper. We still wonder why, in these 17th-century editions at least, the title (on the outer side) and imprint (on the inner side) are interrupted by large gaps at the latitude of the join.
Thanks to Kim Vousden for graphic design to prepare the images for reproduction as printing blocks.
Collections containing over 30,000 ballads in Bodleian collections are accessible online at http://ballads.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/
Register for Broadside Day 2017, to hear more about broadsides and street literature.
Peter Rukavina, in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada, printed Sonnet 99 for the Bodleian’s appeal for Shakespeare’s sonnets printed by any means of relief printing in 2016, the 400th anniversary of the poet’s death. The images below, supplied by Peter Rukavina, indicate the process. The finished product can be seen in this animation, by Adam Koszary. https://youtu.be/2LHpc0kFzss
Sonnet 99, Peter Rukavina, Reinvented Press, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada. Letterpress printed on a Golding Jobber No. 8 Press.