H-125. The Books of the Plays: Shakespeare & Print - Advance Reading List

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  • Suggested Advance Readings

    All of the suggested readings below are likely to be in any college or university library, or available via interlibrary loan (ILL).

    Blayney, Peter W.M. The First Folio of Shakespeare. Washington, DC: Folger Shakespeare Library, 1991. (Available through the Folger’s online shop, SKU 002004, or online via sites like AbeBooks.com.) A wonderful and inexpensive introduction to the bibliography of early modern books. Be careful not to confuse this $7.95 paperback with the $150 Norton facsimile bearing the same title and an introduction by Blayney.

    [If you are new to basic bibliography, you might want to watch the video The Anatomy of a Book: I. Format in the Hand-Press Period, written by Terry Belanger. Many college libraries have it, but the DVD with the workbook and practice sheets can be purchased directly from Rare Book School for $45. The DVD can be purchased alone for $25. ]

    Erne, Lukas. Shakespeare and the Book Trade. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013. Based on his Lyell Lectures in 2012, Erne examines “the publication, constitution, dissemination, and reception of Shakespeare’s printed plays and poems,” focusing mainly on his print popularity and the question of his own concern with that.

    Hooks, Adam G. Selling Shakespeare: Biography, Bibliography, and The Book Trade. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016. Also considering the narrative poems, Hooks shows how our ideas of Shakespeare were shaped by the book trade, “by the stationers who put Shakespeare up for sale, and by the ways customers and readers responded to and used the books branded with his name.”

    Kastan, David Scott. Shakespeare and the Book. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001. A short book, based on the Northcliffe Lectures given at the University of London in 2000, that considers the ways in which Shakespeare’s plays have been made available to readers from their earliest readers, through the first age of editing in the eighteenth-century to the (beginnings of) the digital present. At least you will know much of what I think—or once thought.

    [There are also a number of excellent essays (not by me), in Kastan, David Scott. A Companion to Shakespeare. Oxford: Blackwell, 1999, particularly the five essays in the section called “Printing.”]

    Smith, Emma, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare’s First Folio. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016. An extremely useful set of essays on the 1623 so-called First Folio (not, of course, the first folio, but the first publication of Shakespeare in a folio format), and on the conditions of early modern English book culture.