Inscription and Authority
“Inscription and Authority,” a joint initiative between the Rare Book Archive in the University Library and researchers in English (Professor Alison Findlay), has been set up to explore the unique opportunities the Collection offers to research the relationships between writing, printing, dramatic composition and authority.
The Hesketh Folio of Jonson’s Workes (1616) was owned by Humphrey Dyson. In presenting dramatic texts as ‘Workes’ Jonson’s collection constitutes the first assertion of prestigious authorial identity by a dramatist.
John Heminges’ and Henry Condell’s Preface ‘To the Great Variety of Readers’ at the beginning of the First Folio initiates a long debate over Shakespeare’s identity as an author. Unlike Jonson, he never collected his works for publication in his lifetime, but the printed texts often suggest that the public theatre was not the only audience for which Shakespeare’s texts were composed. Research explores the Folio and its relationship to reading and theatre practices, including public, private and court performances.
Shakespeare First Folio (1623)
Preface ‘To The Great Variety
Titus Andronicus is one of
many plays in which inscription
and reading take centre stage
Professor Alison Findlay is conducting research on the manuscript letters relating to Mary Queen of Scots. The correspondence with Sir Ralph Sadler, Mary Queen of Scots’ guardian during her captivity near Sheffield, examines the appointment of Sir Amyas Paulet, the precautions taken to prevent plots for her escape or for the furthering of plots against Queen Elizabeth. The letters outline the practicalities of moving the Scottish Queen from one residence to another (including lists of furnishings), the surveillance of her servants and of any person with Catholic sympathies with whom she came into contact. Professor Findlay’s essay on the letters’ rhetorical construction of queenship will appear in The Ritual and Rhetoric of Queenship: Medieval to Early Modern, edited by Liz Oakley-Brown and Louise Wilkinson (Four Courts Press, contracted for 2008).