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Tracks Shakespeare's emergence as a print author, noting that his first publications were a pair of narrative poems which, though intended primarily to secure aristocratic patronage, proved to be singularly successful commercially. The earliest publication history of Shakespeare's individual plays is mapped in detail, with particular attention being given to the career of Thomas Millington, who, in effect, provided 'proof of concept' that Shakespeare publishing was a worthwhile venture. Andrew Wise's subsequent success in publishing Shakespeare titles is also noted. The fact that the plays were, initially, published anonymously is registered, as is the fact that many of the earliest editions offered significantly attenuated texts. Some speculation is offered as to the derivation of these shortened texts. The chapter notes that, by the end of the first decade of the seventeenth century, Shakespeare was well established as a recognised print author as well as a successful playwright.
Described by the TLS as 'a formidable bibliographical achievement … destined to become a key reference work for Shakespeareans', Shakespeare in Print is now issued in a revised and expanded edition offering a wealth of new material, including a chapter which maps the history of digital editions from the earliest computer-generated texts to the very latest digital resources. Murphy's narrative offers a masterful overview of the history of Shakespeare publishing and editing, teasing out the greater cultural significance of the ways in which the plays and poems have been disseminated and received over the centuries from Shakespeare's time to our own. The opening chapters have been completely rewritten to offer close engagement with the careers of the network of publishers and printers who first brought Shakespeare to print, additional material has been added to all chapters, and the chronological appendix has been updated and expanded.
The mid to late seventeenth century is usually considered as representing an almost total lack of Sonnet appreciation, often blamed on John Benson’s 1640 volume, Poems, which disrupted the sequence, interwove it with lyrics from The Passionate Pilgrim, and joined Sonnets together into larger units. This chapter explores how the Sonnets thrived in Caroline manuscripts (particularly Sonnets 2 and 106), and the ways in which Benson tried to harness this elite status for Cavalier readers, and make amends for the Sonnets’ omission from the First Folio. The chapter re-examines the ways in which Sir John Suckling and John Milton read the Sonnets, and argues for their sustained Royalist associations.