University of Virginia Library



E. E. Willoughby, The Printing of the First Folio of Shakespeare (1932), Frontispiece and pp. 62-64.


Charlton Hinman, "A Proof-Sheet in the First Folio of Shakespeare," The Library, 4th ser., XXIII (1942), 101-7. Photographs of the pages and states discussed accompany this article.


All three are among the collections in the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington. I am deeply indebted to the director and staff of this great library for innumerable kindnesses, including permission to publish the reproductions that accompany this paper.


Willoughby, op. cit., p. 63.


As Drs. Willoughby, McManaway, and Dawson all agree after independent examinations of the pages in question; but the evidence, as these experts also agree, remains too scanty for really positive identification.


Third, of course, only in order of discovery. The three sets came into being in just the reverse order: the present set (page 292), the Othello set (page 333), then the Anthony set (page 352).


See "The Copy for F," pp. 7-18 in George Ian Duthie, Shakespeare's "King Lear" (1949), esp. p. 17.


With one notable exception in the Othello proof-page (333), there are no corrections that imply reference to copy in any of the three proof-pages now known.


To readers who are not satisfied by this argument I can only offer an appeal to the evidence, as yet unpublished, that gives me my own greatest confidence in the conclusion expressed above. During the summer of 1949 I collated pages 305-40 (18 formes that include the whole of Othello and parts of Lear and of Anthony and Cleopatra) throughout the entire Folger collection of 79 First Folios. The work was done with mechanical aid made possible by a generous grant from the Old Dominion Foundation. Among the numerous variants that my "machine" turned up was abundant evidence that the proof-reader was constantly at pains to correct minor typographical infelicities—including space-quads taking ink (however slightly) and several uneven impressions. On more than one occasion the press was stopped for the sole purpose of correcting a single badly inking type.


Hinman, op. cit., pp. 103-4.


Of some interest in this connection are the statistics presented above: approximately 7.3% uncorrected as against 92.7% corrected states in a total of 82 copies examined. These percentages suggest, for an edition of 1250 copies, a total of about 90 uncorrected states, or probably rather less than half an hour's work by an uninterrupted press. To remove a forme from the press, to unlock it and correct one of its type-pages, would presumably take only about the same time, at most. But even if it took slightly longer, it would surely not take so much time as would be required for a proof-reader to make a thoroughgoing collation of a proof-page with its copy.


It will be interesting in this connection to learn (I do not myself yet know) which copies contain the uncorrected state of XXIr:6v in Anthony and Cleopatra. Familiarity with other variant formes among the Folger First Folios makes me bold to declare, however, that we cannot ordinarily expect any such strict correspondence as the one just noted.