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Chapter 4 addresses the myth of editorial neutrality, exploring how editorial biography can illuminate historical editions. It includes three case studies, each of which focuses on an edition produced for English schoolchildren between 1909 and 1927 and draws on both the editor’s life and the broader setting of the edition’s creation. The first study examines Evelyn Smith’s 1927 Henry V, an edition which strongly signals its post-war context, using her glossarial notes, questions, and citations to extrapolate information about Smith’s viewpoints. The second study highlights the tension between archival evidence regarding Agnes Russell Weekes and the racist and colonialist content of her 1909 edition of The Tempest. The third study demonstrates how understanding editor Dorothy Macardle’s Irish Nationalist background reveals the immense depth of her edition of The Tempest (c. 1917).
Chapter 5 focuses on the changes in the editorial profession that resulted from the rise to prominence of the New Bibliography and shows how the consolidation of editorial authority and the increasingly quasi-scientific method (or mystique) of the New Bibliography worked to exclude women from its editorial ranks. This resulted in a significant decrease of woman-edited editions around the middle of the twentieth century. Continuing previous discussion of male collaborators, it demonstrates that well into the twentieth century, women editors’ successes still relied in part on finding a way into the primarily masculine network of editors via their male colleagues and allies, focusing on the careers of Grace Trenery, Una Ellis-Fermor, Alice Walker, and Evelyn Simpson.
The ‘Lady Editors’ concludes with a discussion of questions surrounding identity and editorial authority, describing how the nature of editorial authority swings back and forth between singularity and plurality, depending on societal pressures and larger intellectual trends. By analysing this cycle, the editorial profession can better understand both the opportunities and the challenges that could arise in the years to come.
Chapter 3 explores the array of networks among American academic women that facilitated women’s editorial work during the fin-de-siècle period. Important scholars and writers such as Katharine Lee Bates, author of ‘America the Beautiful’; Chaucer editor Edith Rickert; and taste-making magazine editors Charlotte Porter and Helen Clarke all produced Shakespeare editions while participating in these supportive, female communities. This chapter draws on archival holdings to detail Bates’s approach to producing three editions, investigates the practice of hiring editors to revise old editions, and considers the reception and use of women’s editions.
Chapter 2 takes up the question of gendered labour via an investigation into five women editors involved with Frederick Furnivall’s New Shakspere Society (NSS) during the late nineteenth century. Focusing in particular on the story of Teena Rochfort Smith, it addresses problematic elements of Furnivall’s relationships with the women he mentored, offering a new reading of this seminal figure for the #MeToo era. It reveals the identity of Jane Lee, previously known only as the author of an NSS paper on the Henry VI plays, and discusses Emma Gollancz and Elizabeth Lee, sisters and collaborators of two major Shakespeare editors, and Charlotte Stopes, who suffered both personally and professionally for her unwillingness to subordinate herself and her ambitions to male colleagues.
Although this book by its very nature plays into a Shakespeare-centric approach to editorial history, this brief mention of women editing early modern texts by other authors, or doing other types of bibliographical work, hopefully offers a slight counterbalance to that tendency. Some of this material warrants significantly more time and space than is available here. Many women editors and textual scholars are excluded from this book purely due to chronological technicalities. For example, Madeleine Doran’s only edition of a Shakespeare play was A Midsummer Night’s Dream, published in 1959 for the Pelican series, under the general editorship of Alfred Harbage.1 This puts her beyond the time scope covered by this book; however, her influential bibliographical work during the 1920s and ’30s deserves acknowledgement.
Having established women’s absence from the current narratives of the Shakespearean editorial tradition, Chapter 1 lays out possible reasons for this neglect, and for the gender imbalance in the editorial profession. First, it questions how the field currently defines textual editing, challenging how twentieth-century bibliographical trends have distorted judgements of past editorial work. It explores how both labour and texts can be gendered, re-evaluating the ‘social’ labour of the introduction and examining the repercussions of textual collation. Turning to the gendering of texts, it introduces ‘domestic texts’, including the Lambs’ Tales from Shakespeare and the Bowdlers’ Family Shakespeare, then addresses misogyny and gendered rhetoric in textual studies.
Who was ‘Mrs Valentine’? The prologue takes an archival deep dive to investigate whether the unsigned Chandos Shakespeare, published by Frederick Warne in 1868, was edited by a woman, Laura Jewry Valentine. This exploration establishes the gaps and misunderstandings surrounding women’s involvement in Shakespearean editorial history.
Some sunshiny spring or summer Saturday, go out into … the woods, ask your best … friend to go with you, and take a volume of Shakespeare [along]. Do not take the school edition, but the daintiest and prettiest volume you can find … and lay in it a sprig of scented geranium … to mark the place and be a pleasure to the senses … read the play through with your friend … the next Shakespeare day in class, I think, some breath of the summer wood and the scent of geranium will blow on your Clarendon Press edition, and you and your friend will exchange a sly smile of superior intelligence! Do this, not once, but many times, and … the temptation to take out ‘an amusing book’ [will] become less and less.