University of Virginia Library



"The Compositors of Henry IV, Part 2, Much Ado About Nothing, The Shoemakers' Holiday, and The First Part of the Contention," Studies in Bibliography, 13 (1960), 19-29. Charlton Hinman subsequently identified the work of Simmes' Compositor A in Richard II; see Richard II (Shakespeare Quarto Facsimiles No. 13), 1966, p. xiv.


Richard II (Shakespeare Quarto Facsimiles No. 13), 1966. Hinman's Compositor S is not the same workman Ferguson designates Compositor B, whose work he identifies in Q2 The First Part of the Contention (1600) and perhaps Q1 The Shoemakers' Holiday (1600). I feel certain, however, that The Contention is entirely the work of Compositor A, those features (such as some stopped speech-prefixes and occasional contrasting italic type in the body) which lead Ferguson to suspect a second compositor being the result of the influence of his (printed) copy. Spelling preferences and capitalization practices in the section in question are very similar to those in the rest of the quarto and in the other quartos produced by Compositor A. An alternate compositor is involved in The Shoemakers' Holiday, and he may be designated Compositor B, following Ferguson. This compositor was probably the alternate workman who helped Compositor S set type for Q3 Richard II, 1598. A discussion of the shares of the compositors of Q3 can be found in my unpublished dissertation (University of Kansas, 1965), "The Printing of Shakespeare's Richard II, 1597," pp. 67-68.


Compositor A almost always worked at case x; Compositor S always worked at case y. Four unstopped prefixes on C3 strongly suggest that Compositor A there set from case y; otherwise each worked only from his own case. A detailed analysis of the composition of the quarto is given in my dissertation, pp. 27-47.


Exactly how rare is difficult to say. Ferguson observes that in the three years 1599 to 1601, the 22 plays printed from manuscript by other printers almost never contain unabbreviated prefixes, p. 19. But in the sheets of Q1 Richard III printed by Peter Short (sigs. H-M) a large number of unstopped prefixes do appear.


This workman is probably Compositor B; see note 2, above.


A compositor study of Doctor Faustus Q1 appears in the unpublished dissertation (Duke, 1964) by Robert Ford Welsh, "The Printing of the Early Editions of Marlowe's Plays," pp. 85-126. Welsh identifies two compositors, X and Y [= Compositor A]. In identifying Compositor Y Welsh relies heavily on single-"l" spellings of words like will and shall. This characteristic can also be seen in Richard II Q2, set entirely by Compositor A, but is rare elsewhere in his work.


In Q2 The Contention Compositor A is similarly influenced by the stopped prefixes in his copy, especially in the early sheets. In the entire quarto he stopped 96 of the 372 unabbreviated prefixes.


See Charlton Hinman, "Shakespeare's Text—Then, Now and Tomorrow," Shakespeare Survey, 18 (1965), 26-27. Hinman records one less verbal change than I do, apparently because he does not consider an interpolated exit direction in Qb to be a substantive matter.


In editing Richard II it appears that different editorial policies must be adopted for a given page, depending upon which compositor set it. Judging from the evidence offered by Q3 Richard II, Compositor S was much more accurate than A — three times as accurate — making on the average one substantive change every 48 lines. Thus Compositor S was much less prone to error than A and to errors, often, of a very different kind. Compositor A, for example, omitted words 15 times as often as Compositor S did.


Arden King Richard II (1956), p. xix.


"Shakespeare's Text," pp. 31-33.


King Richard II, p. xix, n. 3.


King Richard II, pp. xvii-xviii.


King Richard II, pp. xviii-xix.


Richmond Noble, Shakespeare's Biblical Knowledge (1935), p. 158. Cf. also Job xxix. 10: "and their tongue cleaved to the roof of their mouth."