The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

The Other First Folio

Although many people talk about Shakespeare’s First Folio, we often forget another, perhaps equally important, First Folio that arrived slightly earlier, in 1616. While most of the attention this year has been on the anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, this other 400th anniversary is also worthy of recognition.

stc-14751-copy-2-title-page

In the fall of 1616, The workes of Beniamin Ionson was published in a large, imposing folio volume. Running nearly 575 leaves, Ben Jonson’s Workes is a testament its author’s skills, popularity, and determination to have his writings published together in one volume. To understand why Jonson’s Folio is so important, we must step back and remember a couple of critical things about printing in early 17th-century London.

First, printing required paper, and paper was generally the most expensive part of any printing venture. The larger the format of the final work, the more paper was usually needed. This meant a larger initial outlay, and therefore required more of a surety that the book would sell well. Because of this, the folio format was usually reserved for religious and historical texts and other weighty matters: all subjects on which a printer and publisher could be relatively well-assured of good sales. Plays and poetry, on the other hand, were generally only printed in smaller formats, such as the quarto or octavo.

Ben Jonson, a poet and playwright who knew Shakespeare and enjoyed some of the same patronage and fame, decided to change that. This brings us to a second point: the person who registered the rights to print a work with the Stationers’ Company generally had a great deal of control over the printing process, both in terms of when and how it was printed, and in how it looked. Jonson himself registered his Workes in January of 1616. This was rare–while it wasn’t unheard of for an author to register his own work, it was certainly unusual for a literary author and playwright like Jonson to do so. While in the end, Jonson’s printer William Stansby had a great deal to do with the ultimate look of the folio,1 registering the work himself was still a bold move by Jonson.

People who purchased literary volumes must have agreed, as the publication of a playwright’s body of work in a single volume became at least a potential option for other writers: Heminge(s)2 and Condell followed seven years later, with Mr. William Shakespeares comedies, histories, & tragedies, and in 1647 another posthumous folio, the Comedies and tragedies written by Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher, Gentlemen was published.

Jonson changed the possibilities of play publication with one audacious volume.

The Folger holds eleven copies of Jonson’s First Folio in varying degrees of completeness. They range from complete/nearly complete copies to single leaves. One (Copy 11) is even a “made-up” copy—that is, a copy that was assembled from parts of two or more different copies. In this case, gathering 3L is noticeably smaller than the surrounding leaves. This gathering includes portions of the plays The Alchemist and Catiline.

Jonson's folio open to the beginning of the play Cataline
An opening in gathering 3L. Note how much smaller the pages are than those surrounding. (STC 14751 copy 11, sig. 3L3v-3L4r)

Copy 11 is also special as it is a rare “large paper” copy of the folio (measuring 34cm tall, rather than the 25-30cm tall that most of the rest of our copies are). This means that it was intentionally printed on larger paper than normal, even for a folio, but with the text block remaining the same size as in those printed on more average paper size. Large-paper copies were printed in even smaller, more limited runs than folios, which is another interesting part of how this book came to be. When Bernard Quaritch offered this book for sale in a 1910 catalogue, the cataloger noted “[u]nlike the first folio Shakespeare [sic], this first edition of Jonson’s works is a handsome example of typography, especially on large paper.” So much for Will’s folio!

Note the extra wide margins. (STC 14751 copy 11, sig. A2v-A3r)
Note the extra wide margins. (STC 14751 copy 11, sig. A2v-A3r)

When Henry Folger purchased copy 3 in 1917, the book dealer was very excited by the contemporary manuscript notes found on its back flyleaves.

Manuscript notes on the back flyleaves of STC 14751 copy 3.
Manuscript notes on the back flyleaves of STC 14751 copy 3.

Although closely written and somewhat difficult to make out, the dealer ascertained that the lines were quotes from several of the works in the copy, with corresponding page numbers. However, the quoted portions in manuscript hand varied consistently from the version in the printed text.

"You Ganimides, fill us a bowl of nectar" -- perhaps better known as "Fill us a bowl of nectar, Ganymede" from Poetaster, Act 4, Scene 5. (STC 14751 copy 3)
“You Ganimides, fill us a bowl of nectar” — perhaps better known as “Fill us a bowl of nectar, Ganymede” from Poetaster, Act 4, Scene 5. (STC 14751 copy 3)

The dealer believed that this meant the writer might have been quoting from a manuscript copy of the folio. Since Jonson’s First Folio is a complicated text bibliographically,3 appearing in multiple states within the same edition, this assertion requires more research. However, we can safely say that it shows a contemporary reader’s close interest and study of Jonson’s texts, and the variations that occurred over the life of the text as new editions came into being. Whether this writer was editing the copy for the press, writing from a manuscript copy, or simply studying Jonson’s works remains to be seen.

Copy 7 holds a treat within its pages of Every Man Out of his Humour: this copy has been extensively marked up as if for performance.

Every Man Out of His Humour marked up for performance. (STC 14751 copy 7, sig. L6v-M1r)
Every Man Out of His Humour marked up for performance. (STC 14751 copy 7, sig. L6v-M1r)

A marked up copy of a play like this is often referred to as a promptbook, since it is (or resembles) the copy that a theater company’s prompter (what we would now refer to as the stage manager) would create and use for the performances. They would record cuts to the text, entrances and exits for different characters, and sometimes even rewrite lines.

Apparently Jonson's sentence wasn't good enough for this editor! (STC 14751 copy 7, sig. K1r)
Apparently Jonson’s sentence wasn’t good enough for this editor! (STC 14751 copy 7, sig. K1r)

While there is no way to tell what performance (or, indeed, if there was a particular performance) these markups were made for, there do seem to be two different hands in it (and two different inks).

The handwriting in the margin seems to be a different hand (and different ink) than the hand making the line edits at the top of the page. (STC 14751 copy 7, sig. N2r)
The handwriting in the margin seems to be a different hand (and different ink) than the hand making the line edits at the top of the page. (STC 14751 copy 7, sig. N2r)

The larger hand in the margin seems to be late 17th century, while the smaller hand that made the line edits appears to be somewhat later.

For those wishing to see more of Jonson’s first folio , you will be glad to know that copy 2 has been digitized cover-to-cover. It also has a wonderful early owner’s mark .

"Moses Bathurst his booke 1659" (STC 14751 copy 2, sig. ¶2v)
“Moses Bathurst his booke 1659” (STC 14751 copy 2, sig. ¶2v)

All of our copies of Ben Jonson’s Workes have something interesting about them, whether it is the particular state of each play that was included, provenance, or ownership marks.

In this year where (around here, at least) it has been All Shakespeare, All The Time, take a moment to remember the other First Folio. After all, if Jonson (and his ego) had not defied convention and published it in 1616, Shakespeare’s might never have come about at all.

  1. see David Gants, “The 1616 Folio (F1): Textual Essay” in The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Ben Jonson Online
  2. Opinion is divided as to the proper spelling of his name. Some contemporary sources, like the aforementioned Shakespeare First Folio, do not include the terminal S; however, several major modern sources, including the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography spell it Heminges.
  3. See again, Gants, “The 1616 Folio (F1): Textual Essay”

7 Comments


  • Thank you for highlighting this important book. Some years ago, examining copies of it at the Folger, I noticed the unusual spelling Shake-Speare [large caps for S; small caps for the other letters] in this Folio. Some background on hyphenated Elizabethan names. Everyone knows how common hyphenated last names are now in Britain. What few people know, however, is that this was not the case in Elizabethan England. In fact, with rare exceptions, hyphenated last names became common only after a 19th century inheritance law popularized them. The only commonly hyphenated last names in Elizabethan England were the Fitz-Hughes, the Fitz-Simmons, etc. The rare Elizabethan exceptions include the printer Robert Waldegrave and Edward Allde, who both hyphenated their last names on title pages.

    Jonson uses the same Capitalized-hyphen-Capitalized format in the names of the following comic characters in the 1616 edition of his plays and poems:
 Brane-Worme; Shoo-Maker; La-Foole; and Love-Wit.
These spellings can be found either in the list of characters, or at the head of new scenes.
 Jonson also includes epigrams to Court-Parrat and Poet-Ape.
 That’s the company that Shake-Speare keeps in this book: six instances that are transparently invented names, plus the name that is widely thought to be the author’s actual name.

    
Other hyphenated comical names in Jonson’s Folio that have only the first part capitalized include:
Downe-right; Well-bred; True-wit; Teare-sheet; Brayne-hardie; Courte-worme; Sir and Lady Luckless Woo-all; and Politique and Madame Would-bee.
 No names of real actors are other people are hyphenated in Jonson’s 1616 Folio.

  • It is perhaps useful to compare the pattern of Jonson’s hyphenation in his MS of a dramatic work with the same text as printed in his Works. In the MS of The Masque of Queens, Ben Jonson offers at least one author whose name appears multiple times in the written notes – with one such instance including the “double-capital-hyphen” – “M. Phillipo-Ludwigus Elich,” an authority on witchcraft. The name is not hyphenated in the printed Works. There are six instances in the Queens MS of hyphenated word pairs which were not hyphenated in the printed Works and four hyphenated instances in the printed Works which are not hyphenated in the MS. Apparently, Jonson and his printers had some difficulty getting on the same page.

    One overlooked but particularly entertaining double-capital-hyphen is found in the alternative concluding line of “Every Man Out of His Humor” with “Sir John Fal-Staffe” making a cameo appearance for no obvious reason other then a gratuitous fat joke. Perhaps it was intended as a tribute to Jonson’s fellow playwright and colleague in the Lord Chamberlains Men, William Shakespeare. Just saying.

    Dr Waugaman concludes by stating that “no names of real actors [or] other people are hyphenated” in Jonson’s Works. How many candidates are there? Of the 30 actors other then Shakespeare, the only two syllable names of 8 characters or more are Burbadge and Barksted. Why bother. Of the approximately 80 names of real people no more then a dozen would be considered authors and none has a name which we would expect to be printed with a hyphen. Selden, Chapman, Beaumont, Weever, Donne, Davis, Heyward, Holland, Camden, King James, (Mrs) Sydney, etc? Perhaps the composer, Alphonso Ferrabosco with four syllables in his last name could use a hyphen or two? The printer, John Smithwicke. would seem to be an ideal candidate – but then again he is the printer…

    Was the use of the hyphen all that rare in early modern Britain? William Camden’s, “Remaines of a Greater Worke” (1605) includes many instances of hyphenated names as well as some using the double capital hyphen. In a bit of serendipity, we find a non-literary usage of “Shake-Speare” along with similar long two-syllable names, “Long-sword,” “Broad-speare” & “Breake-speare.” If any example demonstrated coincidental use of the double capital hyphen, this would seem to be it – a point emphasized by the fact that, later in the same book, Camden specifically recognizes the actual literary Shakespeare, printed as we most frequently see it, sans hyphen.

    A few pages earlier Camden describes another class of name origins: “Notwithstanding, certain it is that Surnames of families have been adjoyned to the names of places for distinction, or to notifie the owner…” The names include “Minster-Lovel”, “Drayton-Basset” and my personal favorite, “Drayton-Beaumont”.

    And, we have: “single Names were adjoyned oftentimes other names,” as, for example, “the son of Henry the second, king of England, Fitz-Empresse, because his mother was Empress, his sonne Richard had for surname Corde-Lion, for his lion-like courage” ( W.W. Greg refers to a play, “Funeral of Richard Coeur-de-Lion of June 1598”, attributed by Henslowe to Chettel, Drayton, Munday and Wilson. )

    Finally, Camden gives the family name of Anne Digges, mother of Leonard Digges. as “Saint-Leger”, which is a specific contemporary usage.

  • This “Shake-Speare” spelling occurs in the list of actors for the first performance of Sejanus. Why is the name printed this way only in this one location in Jonson’s 1616 Folio? Perhaps as a hint that his secret co-author of Sejanus was this so-called “Shake-Speare.”

  • Shakespeare’s name appears twice in Jonson’s Works, as a member of the cast of Jonson’s “Every Man in his Humor,” (with the spelling “Will Shakespeare”) and in the cast of “Sejanus” (with the spelling of “Will.Shake-Speare.”)

    Jonson’s folio gives us important information about Shakespeare’s career in the theater. Though Shakespeare wrote an average of two plays a year for the company, he acted in dozens of plays written by others as a principal sharer in the Lord Chamberlain’s Men and the successor playing company, the King’s Men. We think of Shakespeare as a writer, but he was a player, playwright, partner in the ownership of the Globe and Blackfriars Theaters.

    It also shows how variable spelling was in early modern English. Shakespeare’s name was spelled many different ways. David Kathman has written a useful study of these variations, “The Spelling and Pronunciation of Shakespeare’s Name,” available on line.

    By far the most common spelling is the standard spelling used today — “Shakespeare.” But there are many variations. Jonson’s Folio used both the common spelling, and the less frequent hyphenated spelling. Like others with names that naturally divide into two common English words, “Shake-Speare” (or sometimes, “Shak-speare”) was sometimes hyphenated.

    In this, he’s similar to contemporaries like Sir Thomas Campbell, whose name was hyphenated as “Camp-bell” in a pageant written for his 1609 inauguration as Lord Mayor of the City of London. And the name of the Christian martyr, Sir John Oldcastle, (the original name of Shakespeare’s character renamed “Sir John Falstaff”) was hyphenated as “Old-castle.”

  • Yes, hyphenated last names were rare in early modern England. Camden was obviously emphasizing the origin of names when he hyphenated them. Still, the double-S in Shake-Speare was unique in Camden.

    I wish Stratfordians would read Thomas E. Murray, “The overlooked and understudied onomastic hyphen.” in Names: A Journal of Onomastics 50:173-190, 2002. It is obvious from Murray’s article that hyphenated last names only became popular after the 19th century inheritance law that he discusses.

    • The inheritance law question is really an entirely separate issue. We are not talking about hyphenation to combine two surnames (so-called “double-barrelled names”) — where British inheritance statutes might give some significance to the double- (or sometimes triple-) barrelled name. The use of hyphens in Shakespeare’s name in printed works seem to be the idiosyncratic choice of the individual printer.

      Irvin Matus (“Shakespeare, In Fact”) noted that the hyphenated form of Shakespeare’s name appeared in fifteen of the thirty-two quarto editions of Shakespeare plays — but thirteen of those were in just three plays: Richard II, Richard III and Henry IV Part 1. All of these were published by Andrew Wise, or his assignee after 1603, Matthew Law. Printers commonly maintained title page information from edition to edition. But even Wise was not consistent: quarto versions of Henry IV Part 2 and Much Ado About Nothing published by Wise and William Aspley (who later was one of the publishers listed in the colophon of the First Folio) omitted the hyphen.

      Matus also notes other real-life people who used hyphenated surnames. The printer Robert Waldegrave printed his name as one word up until 1582; but in two books that year and thereafter, he adopted the spelling “Walde-grave.” What made him change? Who knows?

      So though the use of hyphenated surnames (particularly combining the surnames of two family lines) became popular many years later, the notoriously idiosyncratic early modern spelling of surnames could and did go so far as inserting an occasional hyphen.

  • > This “Shake-Speare” spelling occurs in the list of actors for the first performance of Sejanus. Why is the name printed this way only in this one location in Jonson’s 1616 Folio?

    Did you not read Herbie’s first paragraph? Here it is again:

    “It is perhaps useful to compare the pattern of Jonson’s hyphenation in his MS of a dramatic work with the same text as printed in his Works. In the MS of The Masque of Queens, Ben Jonson offers at least one author whose name appears multiple times in the written notes – with one such instance including the “double-capital-hyphen” – “M. Phillipo-Ludwigus Elich,” an authority on witchcraft. The name is not hyphenated in the printed Works. There are six instances in the Queens MS of hyphenated word pairs which were not hyphenated in the printed Works and four hyphenated instances in the printed Works which are not hyphenated in the MS. Apparently, Jonson and his printers had some difficulty getting on the same page.”

    > Perhaps as a hint that his secret co-author of Sejanus was this so-called “Shake-Speare.”

    If he did, he certainly erased all traces of Shakespeare’s contribution.


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