Error and Absurdity in Shakespeare’s First Folio

18. Oktober 2023 18:00

Prof. Tiffany Stern FBA

Shakespeare’s First Folio is so important that it is often thought to be good: John Payne Collier called it a “credit to the age, even as a specimen of typography”. But the First Folio has some notable blunders, from its poorly spaced preliminary matter onwards. My lecture will investigate what error reveals about the Folio’s transcribers (who copied Shakespeare’s plays in neat for the press); compositors (who rendered the plays they received into print); and “readers” (who pronounced the plays out loud for proofing) . Celebrating the people who put the Folio together, many of whose names are not known, it will show how crises and successes in the early modern printing house remain part of “Shakespeare” today.

Tiffany Stern, FBA, is Professor, Fellow and Chair of Shakespeare and Early Modern Literature at The Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham, having previously been Professor of Early Modern Drama at the University of Oxford. Author of twelve books and editions and over sixty articles and chapters, she specializes in Shake-speare, theatre history from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, book history and editing. She is general editor of the Norton Anthology of English Literature (16th centu-ry), New Mermaids Plays, and Arden Shakespeare Fourth Series; her work on early modern theatre practice is widely used by theatre companies interested in historically inflected performance. She was elected Fellow of the British Academy in 2019.

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