Stuart Baines: Whether we know it or not, we all engage with Shakespeare's work in some way or another. For my family and I, it's very direct. Taking every opportunity to see his works on stage or in the park has become a tradition. Like us, many of you with us today are also regularly and deliberately engaging with the Bard, but I hope there might also be among you, some casual consumers, or perhaps even some very, some with very little exposure, what I'd like to call Bard curious. And today, I hope we can open up a new world, but like my family, you probably want me to hurry up and get on with it. So, good afternoon everyone. Welcome to the National Library and to this event. Shakespeare's First Folio from London to Australia, and many points in between. My name is Stuart Baines. I'm the Director of Community Engagement here at the library.
As we begin, I would like to acknowledge Australia's First Nations people, the First Australians as the traditional owners and custodians of this land, and give my respects to their elders past and present, and through them to all Australian, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. We thank the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people for allowing us to be here today. And I thank the Awabakal people whose land and culture influenced me as I grew up. We are thrilled to have you here for this event, which marks 400 years since the publication of the First Folio, the first collected edition of William Shakespeare's place. For about half of that time. These works have been read, performed, and studied in Australia, making their mark on our culture in many ways. This afternoon's event is presented in partnership with the Australian National University's Centre for Early Modern Studies. I'd now like to invite director, professor, the director, professor Rosalind Smith, to say a few words on behalf of the centre and to introduce our very special guest.
Rosalind Smith: So, good afternoon everyone, and a very warm welcome and thank you to the National Library of Australia, which is hosting this event in partnership with the Centre for Early Modern Studies. Um, I'm just gonna tell you a little bit about the centre. We, it's quite new. We formed it in 2020. It has over 40 members, passionate scholars of early modern studies across a range of disciplines. And at the moment, um, we hold around $3 million in external funding, including two Australian Research Council Future Fellows, a linkage project, and a discovery project. Our aim is to be the leading centre for early modern studies in the global south, and we've just initiated a consortium, um, of international early modern centres whose partners include the University of London, the Sorbonne, and Oxford, where our speaker this afternoon, um, is based our centre fosters and supports exchange between scholars at institutions.
And this afternoon, we have the privilege of hearing from one of the world's leading Shakespeare scholars who has dedicated her career to Shakespeare, to early modern drama, and to book history. Emma Smith is Professor of Shakespeare studies at Hartford College, university of Oxford. Emma has been a fellow of Hartford and a lecturer in the faculty of English since 1997, and is the 2023 Sam Wanamaker Fellow at Shakespeare's Globe in London. She has written and lectured widely on Shakespeare, including the bestselling. This is Shakespeare, how to Read the World's Greatest Playwright. Um, and Emma's latest publications are Portable Magic, a history of books and their readers, and two books on Shakespeare's first folio published this year, the Making of Shakespeare's First Folio on how this book came to be produced. And Shakespeare's first folio forced centuries of an iconic book addressing its afterlife. Emma's research on Shakespeare early modern drama in book history also focuses on Shakespeare's reception in print performance and criticism.
Emma's work is eclectic. She's interested in early modern plays in performance, and has acted as a consultant, dramaturg or reviewer for a number of recent productions, including those by the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre, and the Don Ma warehouse in London's West End. So Emma's in Australia as a keynote speaker for the celebrations at State Library Victoria in relation to the Emerson collection of early, modern, rare books that's held there. Over the last two days, Emma has delivered excitement and fun and thought provoking talks, um, at the State Library Victoria, through a public talk, through some discussions and through her presence at the Beyond. The book symposium. Being in Canberra today was not on the original itinerary. However, Emma generously accepted our invitation, and we are really privileged to have have her here today for today's lecture. Shakespeare's first folio from London to Australia, and many points in between. Apart from being famous, Emma is a friend and an inspiring colleague. It's my great pleasure to introduce her today, and please give her a very warm welcome.
Emma Smith: Hello. Thank you so much, um, uh, for both those kind introductions. And thank you for being here. I I gather there's some other things happening in the, uh, world of, uh, Australian culture this afternoon. So, um, I'm really pleased that you, um, uh, that you chose this one. Uh, and if we do happen to run over and something really, really exciting happens, feel free to, to, uh, uh, announce it. Um, <laugh>,
Uh, I'm, uh, here to talk about, uh, this book, um, probably the most significant, the most famous secular book, uh, in history. Uh, and to think about it on its 400th birthday, let's just see the 400th birthday. Um, just to reassure you, it's not going to be a hope too dry. Um, it's, in some ways this feels like a difficult anniversary, Shakespeare anniversary, because it's not of Shakespeare, it's not of a person, it's an anniversary of a book. And as Shakespearean, we have spent a lot of time saying Shakespeare is not captured in a book, especially not in a big, slightly weirdly printed, uh, heavy, uh, in some ways, slightly offputting book. That's not what Shakespeare is. And now it comes to 21, 23, we're saying, well, sort of, it, it is what it, what Shakespeare is. But the reason and the framing for what I want to say this afternoon, the reason to, to celebrate this book, I, I think, is twofold.
One is this book, which is published after Shakespeare's death. So, uh, Shakespeare dies in 1616. This is in some ways the last hurrah of the Shakespeare generation. It's produced as we're gonna see by men who knew Shakespeare, um, but who are handing over really the baton to, uh, new kinds of writing, uh, to, you know, the new, what's the new thing happening. So it's a moment of transition. And for me, it's the transition from a Shakespeare that is held by the world that Shakespeare knew, and the world on which he drew. This is the moment this, and this is the book. This is the means by which it gets passed on to us. And even though I'm gonna be emphasising the historical cons, um, constitution of this book, uh, that's really in the service of saying, this is what gave us, this is what delivered us these plays for us to do what we want and need to do, uh, with them.
So that's the first thing. This feels like the moment of transfer, uh, when they're not Shakespeares anymore, they kind of are ours. And the other reason, I think, is that most people here, some people, uh, will be, but most of us, uh, are not going to be creative geniuses. And at some point or other, we will come to terms with that. But we all, we all have the opportunity to be like the people who are the heroes of this story. That's to say the people who support great art, uh, by their labour, by their investment, by their belief, by their enthusiasm. Uh, and I think we know in our own day, uh, there is a really important role, uh, for consumers, for the people who, uh, for funders, for the people who support art and, and allow it to flourish and allow it to come out.
Shakespeare's works are the product of a really, uh, commercial, uh, moment. He is not a writer, uh, in his attic sort of thinking. Uh, uh, he's, he's there in the, in the cut, cut and thrust. And what we see in this story, uh, is a lot of other people who are necessary to get these works to us. This is not a direct transmission from Shakespeare to us, far from it. And it's all the better, uh, for it. So for some people, there might not be quite enough Shakespeare in this talk. And if that's true, uh, for you, um, uh, hang around and and noble me and let's, let's, uh, let's Shakespeare together or, or, or follow up with me, uh, online. Because today I'm talking a bit about how do we get, uh, Shakespeare, that's to say a set of works. How do they come to us?
And we'll see that Shakespeare himself, although he's absolutely vital to this, uh, process, is pretty absent from this, from this stage. So what are we talking about? Let's look at this book again. These, some of these slides, uh, may, may seem quite, uh, a bit like, um, an optometrist's test. You know, if you want to double up and use this twice, cover your left eye and read the smallest, uh, that you can find, uh, uh, often. I'm just showing you the way these look on the page. I'm not gonna be asking you to, to read particular text and what, when I am I'll, I'll read that out. So don't worry if you feel, uh, that you are, uh, struggling, uh, to see this. Um, let's start with what this book is. Um, a folio refers to a size, in fact, it's not an absolute size, but a one that's relative.
Uh, it means that the sheet of paper has been folded once, uh, to create, uh, a, a printed page, if you can imagine, which has two printed pages on one side and two on the other. And then is folded, uh, to create four, uh, uh, four, uh, leaves, four printed leaves of a, of a book. Of a book. Uh, it's a collected, uh, the first collected, uh, edition, as you heard from Stuart. Uh, and it's organised into three genres, comedies, histories, and tragedies. Uh, for various reasons. Uh, it doesn't have any truck with, with the poetry, with the nondramatic poetry. This is an addition of Shakespeare, which couldn't give a hoot about the sonnets, uh, the narrative poems, uh, the other bits of Shakespeare. This is a theatrical, uh, collection. And it's also really significant because it preserves in print, uh, a large proportion, proportion of Shakespeare's plays.
So if we back up a bit, um, most plays that were performed in this period, uh, in England, which is the great period of the theatre, that's the culture that everybody is interested in. The, the, the, uh, majority of plays that have performed in that theatre never get printed. And they don't get printed because they've done their job by being plays. Uh, and it's by no means clear in the printing industry that there is any market for people who want to read plays. That's not a, that's not a given at this point. And you can understand why, uh, you, like me, might have really, in the uk, we've just finished succession. I dunno how, uh, I dunno whether we're all on the same global time with, with, with these, uh, with these great series. I love succession. I'd love to watch it again. I don't think I'd really like to get the script of succession and study that for a while.
And something I think similar is probably true of the theatre. The fact that plays are popular does not necessarily mean that there is a market for people who will just read their scripts and scripts is a word that I think, uh, thinking about the first Folio, we don't tend to say enough. Um, and I'm gonna be thinking about the script that under underline, uh, this, this edition. So most plays are not, uh, printed, and therefore most plays do not survive. So there has been a huge, uh, huge loss of plays from this period. The vast majority of plays that we know were performed, uh, we, uh, we know we don't, we don't have. So print is the means of preservation. Uh, and the fact that these plays are printed means that we have them. Uh, and let's just look a little bit bigger. I have highlighted here, uh, uh, when we were just checking the slides before, some say, I didn't know Shakespeare had a highlighter.
What I always think about this slide is if you're a librarian, look away. I honestly really <laugh> this. This is, this is, um, this is digitally touched up, not, um, not highlighted. I've highlighted for you, uh, the, the, the group of plays which appear for the first time and only in this edition. Uh, the Tempest, the two Gentlemen of Verona. Measure for Measure the Comedy of Errors as you like it, taming of the Shrew, Oswell the tens. Well, 12th Night Winter's Tale, king John King. He, uh, the first part of Henry the sixth, Henry viii, Cory Elis, Simon Julius, Caesar, Macbeth, Anton, Cleopatra, Simline. So we wouldn't have any of these if we didn't have this book. So we still would have Shakespeare or a version of Shakespeare, uh, but a different, a different one, I think. Um, and maybe we'd just think about that just for a moment.
Um, the one that we would have, I think, uh, is more, uh, uh, dominant in the history genre. So if you see the, the, the sections here which have the least highlighting, uh, it's the history plays. So I think if we didn't have the first Folio, the Shakespeare we would be thinking about would be a writer mostly of plays about English history. Now, that's all very well, but it might not be enough to launch you, uh, across the world. And we'll, uh, come back to that point, uh, later. So, how do we get this book? That's what I'm gonna, uh, uh, start with. Now, this document here is a section from Shakespeare's will. So it's written not by Shakespeare, but by, uh, a legal scrivener in March of 16, 16, about six weeks before Shakespeare dies. Uh, and the over a period of, um, perhaps, uh, two or three visits, um, uh, Shakespeare settles his will.
Uh, and we can see the process of that 'cause we can see what are the second thoughts, what have been interleaved, the most famous second thought. I'm not going to, um, uh, say much about, um, uh, but it's that he leaves his wife. Uh, you may have, uh, heard this before, the second Best Bed <laugh>, uh, if you like Shakespeare and think he was a good guy, you say the second best bed was the marital bed. It is a great gift of, uh, uh, the sort of emotional heart of the, of the marriage. If you don't like Shakespeare, you say what? <laugh> the second best bed, um, here, in fact, he's not thinking about his family. He's thinking about his work colleagues. And in the middle of that, um, uh, section, uh, in an interleaved a little, a little, uh, uh, insertion, he, uh, uh, bequeaths to, uh, my Fellows, it says, my fellows, uh, John Hemming, Richard Burbage, and Henry Conde, 28 shillings for Rings.
Uh, so mourning rings to buy a Ring of Remembrance was a very common, um, bequest in this period. Uh, nice bequest actually. You say, you know, buy, buy this, uh, to, to remember me. But for loss of scholars, um, there's been the suggestion that implicitly or even explicitly Shakespeare wants a different kind of memorial from these guys. What he wants is his collected works gathered together, and it's certainly true that Heming John Hemming and Henry Condell, two actors with whom Shakespeare has been working for 20 years. These are, these go back a long way. These are, these are, uh, professional, uh, colleagues and friends over a long period. They, uh, the people who are in the wheel, they sign, uh, the epistle, the, the, the letter to the reader that is at the beginning of this book. So it seems as if they take on the commission.
Richard Burbage, the third name, who was mentioned in the Will, who was the great tragic actor, um, uh, without whom, uh, I don't think Shakespeare would've written in the way that he wrote. We can see that Burbage, uh, Burbages own powers develop, sort of, along with Shakespeare's and Shakespeare comes to right, plays really organised around Verbiages extraordinary emotional range, and his, uh, his kind of acting, uh, a abilities. Uh, we also know, I think that, uh, verbiages first big role was Richard ii. And I think verbiage must have said to Shakespeare, I cannot do a role like that again. And because every other verbiage role afterwards has a quite a big gap in Act four. Uh, if you notice, if you think about what's Hamlet doing in Act four, well, we don't know because we've gone somewhere else. And I think verbiage must have been off stage having a drink or having a rest <laugh>.
But verbiage died in 1619. Uh, and so he is out of the picture for doing, uh, this, this commission. Uh, there are huge, there's a huge outpouring about Verbiages death. People really felt, uh, close to him as we feel often close to, to actors or, uh, those kind of media figures in our own time. And he gave rise to what is my favourite epitaph, uh, of all time. So this is for verbiage the actor, and it's just exit verbiage I like very much. Okay, so we're just back. Um, uh, I, I've, I've done a slightly, uh, blockier version of that to be a bit more direct about what would be lost, um, because I just want to use this just to think for a moment about what, uh, what we would've lost without this book.
I think that not we would've lost these particular plays, and that's, that's very significant, but I think we would've lost the sense that Shakespeare was important. And that's, in part because Shakespeare's importance at some key points in his, uh, afterlife, in his survival, has been precisely because this big book has been available for people to pull off a shelf, uh, and, and consult, uh, small individual works are very easily lost or dispersed. And we see that with other writers, uh, from this period, for example, um, as you will know, uh, when the, uh, English briefly got rid of their monarch, they also got rid of the theatre. You win some, I guess you lose some. Um, and when Charles II came back to the Throne, uh, in 1660, what was restored along with the Monarch was the theatre. Charles had spent time in France, uh, and in the low countries.
He'd been very interested in theatre, uh, and he wanted the theatre up and running, you know, like on Monday or something. And everybody's thinking, how are we going to do this? What, what? Nobody's written a play. The, the theatres have not been open at all. And we know that Thomas Kire, who is one of the men who gets a patent to, and the command to get the theatres open, we know he owns a copy of Shakespeare's first Folio. And I think that's what he goes, he goes to and thinks, what am I gonna do? What am I gonna do? He, he lands on 12th Night. He thinks this is gonna be fantastic. Uh, a woman performing the role of viola wearing male clothes, showing a lot of ankle, fabulous. So the book is what? The book is. What has kept literally the book is what's kept, uh, these plays going.
And I think without that, we would've had, uh, a very different view of Shakespeare. This is, uh, Shakespeare would not have come, uh, to Australia. I don't think he would've been an English writer. He would not have come to all the other, uh, global, uh, sites and adaptations and translations, and in, in intensely creative, um, engagements with Shakespeare that we have. Uh, we would not have all these stratfords, uh, in, in, uh, it was a big part of Colonial naming, um, as, you know, to have a Stratford, uh, all based on Shakespeare's hometown. Um, I think, uh, sometimes about Stratford Ontario, I think, well, it wouldn't have its Shakespeare festival then, I think. Hmm. Wouldn't be called Stratford either, uh, without Shakespeare. And if you're wondering about these, so this is all about the sort of Shakespeare myth, the kind of Shakespeare brand, uh, and the Shakespeare has travelled across the world.
And if you're wondering about those guys, uh, in a toga, how about this for a counterfactual? Do we think that Abraham Lincoln would have been assassinated, had John Wilkes booth not been playing in a run as Brutus in Julius Caesar? And if we hadn't, what would've happened? Okay, let's, let's dive into the book, uh, a little bit. And this is John Hemming and Henry Condo. We've just seen their names. This is what they write to the great variety of readers. This is their introductory material. And what I wanted to highlight here is, uh, first is how much they're emphasising by this book. The fate of all books depends on your capacities, and not of your heads alone, but of your purses. So saying, don't care so much whether you think it's good or not, we just want you to buy it, read and sense you do so.
But buy it first. There seemed to be, um, uh, I, I don't know if you, we, we, we sometimes, when we got, uh, first got bookshops with coffee shops, uh, in the uk, uh, everybody was worried that people would just sort of, sorry, would just stand in bookshops reading, uh, or take the books, you know, never buy them, but just browse and, and read them, uh, on, on site. Uh, that felt a very new phenomenon for us. But it, it absolutely wasn't. That's what people thought, uh, in the 1620s, that there were people who never bought anything but just drifted around. The bookstores, which were around St. Paul's, uh, church had, uh, in the city of London and looked at things and particularly looked at the, looked at the first pages. Uh, so this is a first page, which is saying, OI, you know, stop looking if you want to look, buy it, uh, a bit more desperately.
Whatever you do by whatever you do, by, uh, and then I've just given you what I think has become, I hope there are some here, the patrons, the sort of the sign that the absolute motto, uh, of, uh, English teachers across the world read him, therefore, and again and again. And if then you do not him, surely you are in some manifest danger not to understand him. It's not allowed, is it Not to like Shakespeare, it's only that you don't get it yet. And Hemmings and Condell start that off right here at the beginning. I wanted to emphasise that point about, about buying, because I don't think it's a, it's, um, a given in 1623 that this book is going to be successful. Uh, Shakespeare, as I've told you, has died in 1616, and if we transfer that to our own day, we can probably see that that's a bit of a wilderness years for anybody's reputation, artist's reputation.
Uh, it, it's the, it's not the, the, the sort of, they're not current. They're not currently working. They're not producing new work, obviously. Nor have they got that boost from, uh, their death where we all think, oh, that was so great. Uh, I'll buy that album again. Or, let's watch that movie again together. Uh, that's a, a boost often, uh, and nor have they had the chance to be rediscovered by a later generation and sort of, you know, re trodden or, you know, found to be vintage or found to be retro, or found to be cool, or, you know, something like that. So this is a, this is a very dead, dead point, and I think there's an element of, uh, trying to create the market for Shakespeare in the act of, um, meeting that demand. So it's creating and meeting the demand, which is quite a, quite a, a difficult, uh, economic, um, uh, point to make.
So, so we owe a lot to these people who were willing to do this, uh, because I don't think that they were driven entirely by money, let's say, what they, I I wanted to tell you what they say about the texts that they have, um, produced for us. But I wanted to do that in the context of the slide we just saw, because this has been a very, very, uh, influential statement in Shakespeare scholarship for 400 years. So, Hemmings and Conde's tellers, um, uh, it, it's a love, just a lovely minute to just, um, pause on this, uh, this print, uh, for, for a moment. Uh, you can see perhaps there's long ss forms that can make it, uh, a bit difficult to read sometimes. And perhaps, uh, the, the toggle between the U and the V, uh, which can also sort of trip us up sometimes.
But it's a, it's a lovely, uh, little section, uh, to look at. And sometimes, uh, an abbreviation like here, oh yeah, great, that works here. So that's them. Uh, and the line over is a, is an abbreviation. And that's probably a bit of a running repair by the person who's setting the type thinking, am I gonna have quite enough space for this? Uh, uh, that's, that's not following the manuscript. I think that's a print point. So what do and Conde say here, we pray, you do not envy his friends, the office of their care and Paint have collected and published the plays. And so to have published them as where you were abused with diverse, stolen, and surreptitious copies, maimed and deformed by the frauds and stealth of injurious imposters that exposed them, even those are now offered to your view, cured and perfect of their limbs.
And all the rest absolute in their numbers as he conceived them. Who, as he was a happy imitator of nature, was a most gentle expressor of it. His mind and hand went together. And what he thought he uttered with that easiness, that we have scarce received from him, a blot in his papers. Uh, Ben Johnson, who was sort of, um, uh, Ben, who was sort of Shakespeare's, um, kind of frenemy, I think, you know, that they were, they were great rivals. They were, uh, uh, knew each other well, were sort of friends and, and enemies. Uh, Johnson responds to that saying, well, Woody had blotted a thousand, you know, would, uh, actually saying sometimes it would've been better, uh, if Shakespeare had cut a bit and done a, a bit more work. And I actually, um, uh, heretical as it might be, I, I think I sometimes agree with that.
Um, but what Hemmings and con here is saying is, um, uh, that, oh, no, sorry, that was exactly what I was told not to do, and I've done it in my excitement. Um, they're talking about these, uh, previous publications. So we've emphasised, I've emphasised the plays that hadn't been previously printed as a way of saying the Folio preserves these, but the corollary of that is half of them had been printed before, uh, and they exist, uh, in these fluff lovely, uh, quarto, uh, editions. I could spend the rest of the day on the, the layout of these, uh, pages. Uh, isn't that just amazing? Wh what, what's the kind of, um, sort of design idea that has the most x in the biggest letters and then suland and lamentable, and then tragedy of Romeo and then, ah, Juliet <laugh>? I mean, it's so strange, isn't it?
How we are used to thinking about how typeface organises material for you, uh, on, on the page. I, I mean, I'm completely fascinated by these, but this is what Hemmington Conde are talking about. They're saying some of these plays have been produced before, uh, but not in good versions. And that's how we developed a whole theory that these were so-called Bad quarters, bad quarters, uh, against the Good First Folio. Uh, and that's, uh, informed all kinds of textual work about the differences between Shakespeare's text and which is, uh, authoritative, and which is, uh, which is not. I think it's worth reminding ourselves that Hemmings and Conde have got a book to sell, and they've got a book to sell for who, uh, many of whose customers might already have half of this material in a different form. That's a super annoying position to be in, isn't it, as a consumer to think, I want this bit, but in order to get that, I've got to buy this, which I already have.
Uh, Hemmings and Condo are reassuring in a way, uh, their, their, uh, customer base saying, you may think you've got some of these already, but you were suckered there, and here they are, or, or properly. And they're all, he's also, they're also saying, this is the complete Shakespeare. We know that that is not actually true, but we'll talk a bit more about that. So this is in part, uh, a sales pitch. And I think what we get in the first folio is the texts that Hemmings and Conde's Theatre men were able to get their hands on. And I think in almost every case, that represents the most recent version of the play. So, modern editorial theory tends to prioritise the first edition or the first version, uh, you know, the, the original. That's the, that's the highest value. Uh, and sometimes I suppose, we're interested in, uh, later versions where we think authors have, uh, developed and edited their own work.
Although there are not actually all that many authors in the history of literature whose edits have made their work better, uh, stand up William Wordsworth, who should have left well alone with the prelude, which he kept fiddling with, making worse and worse and worse all through his life. Um, uh, which is a, you know, he, he did, did a brilliant young man's poem, uh, which he then turned into a not very good, uh, old man's poem, <laugh>. Uh, so what, what Hemmings and Conde givers is, is scripts which are, um, which get their value from the theatre rather than directly from authorship. And I just wanted to emphasise that here. Uh, this is from a early engraving of, of, of London. Uh, these are plays which have, uh, which are owned by the theatre companies, which emphasise, uh, in a number of their, uh, published forms that they have been acted, but also that they have been changed, uh, newly corrected augmented, uh, and amended is on, on, on one, uh, issue of Romeo and Juliet, uh, newly imprinted and enlarged to almost as much again as it was according to the true and perfect copy.
That's, if you wanted to know why Hamlet's so long. That's why <laugh>, uh, at the bottom, as it was played before, the King's Majesty at White Tall upon St. Stephen's Night in Christmas holidays. Uh, that gives us a sense that there are occasional and, and specific performances, and that scripts are probably, uh, adapted for, for that. Uh, and we may, uh, when, when KEMs and Conde come to gather those scripts together, they're probably using the last version. I don't think they have version control in the Elizabeth and Jack Bean theatre. You know, I don't think they're keeping, uh, an old copy. Why would they do that? They're keeping, they're doing repairs on the, on the play to keep it up to date. So in lots of cases, the Folio gives us, um, uh, a script which been, uh, managed by, uh, theatres and by revivals, uh, has been adapted or, or changed, uh, as we, uh, as the theatre needs it. In case you're wondering about that play, uh, for the Christmas holidays, um, it was King Lear. I can't imagine wanting to watch that on Boxing Day, but perhaps if you are, if you're complaining about your own family and the Christmas, you might, you might recall the terrible year of 1606, where they were watching King Lear in Whitehall.
Okay? I said also that I don't think this, uh, book is complete. And in fact, this, uh, example, uh, this is the first, uh, image I've shown you from the one Australian copy of the First Folio, which is in, uh, Sydney. Uh, this copy gives us an insight, uh, in, into that. Um, can you see that, uh, someone has written in, uh, at the top of the tragedies, uh, and they've written Troy and Cressida, uh, and Troy and Cressida is in the First Folio. It's the 36th play. But we think that at the point of, in the assemblage of this book, when the catalogue page was being printed, the, uh, publishers did not think that they had the rights to reproduce it. So one of their jobs is to, uh, I've talked a bit about the scripts that come directly from the theatre, the things that haven't been printed before, but the scripts that come from people who own them in print, uh, need a negotiation, uh, about the rights.
And most people, uh, went along with that negotiation. We don't know what the cost of these plays was. Some people entered, some people entered the consortium, so they did a kind of profit sharing a arrangement rather than handover the rights. But a man called Henry Wally, who had the rights to Troys and Cressida, uh, was obviously really playing hardball and saying, I'm not gonna give you the rights. And we know Wally's a is a, is a very bright entrepreneurial printer, not least because he has printed two versions of Troys and Cressida in the same year. They're exactly the same, except for one version says, this has been the greatest hit in, in the theatre ever, and, and you're going to love it. And the other of which have said, this is a great play that has never been staled by the stage. Uh, so he's clearly got a sense.
There are two markets. Uh, one is the theatre going market, and one is the sort of studious market. And he, he, he targets them, uh, very brilliantly. Uh, so, so Wally holds out that he's not gonna, he, he, he's not gonna let them have tr Creston, and somehow it all comes through, and it does. Uh, so they print it probably at the end, uh, copies of the First Folio have a go at Paginating it. Uh, but it's already, the book's already been paginated, so it just, it, it, it can't work at all. So it's an anomaly, uh, as part of this book. It's helped by the fact, though that, uh, what printers and what publishers, uh, produce, uh, for the early modern marketplace is not a bound book that we are used to. Uh, it's a gathering of printed sheets, which you would then take to the binder and have bound, uh, according to your own style, your own budget, uh, and so on.
So, because they're a relatively loosely set of, uh, leaves, it's possible to put trollers and cressida in, but it's not possible to change the, uh, to change the, uh, page numbers. But what I like best about this story is that we can tell from the way the book's printed is that the Plan B, when they could not get T Trialers and Cressida, was to bring in a new, a different play. And that's the play time of Athens. So we got time of Athens, and then we also got to and Cress at Plan A. Now, if we, if this there hadn't been this kind of glitch in the publication process, that's to say we wouldn't have had time of Athens in this book. And moreover, I think we would, so time of Athens wouldn't have survived, but we wouldn't know that it hadn't survived, because there's no other reference to this play, uh, that doesn't come from its publication here.
So it would be, uh, in Donald Rumsfeld's wonderful taxonomy. It would be a completely unknown, unknown. And I love that sense that there may be an un other unknown unknowns. Was there a plan C? Uh, if you know, the most valuable play in this, uh, in this collection in terms of its popularity in print, was probably the first part of Henry iv. Everybody loved Faff, who was the sort of Homer Simpson of the, of the early modern stage. Um, that the, the person who owned that, though the rights to that might well have said, no, I'm not gonna, uh, you know, I'm not gonna give over this, uh, valuable property. Uh, did they have another, another kind of slightly marginal Shakespearean text, uh, in the background, uh, are the plays that we have, uh, lost? Okay. I'm gonna, um, as you can see, I've got the capacity to talk about this stuff, uh, for ages and ages and ages, but I'm gonna speed up.
Uh, so we do have some time for questions, so do be thinking about the questions you might want to ask. I'm gonna move just really briefly, uh, to the print shop. Uh, and it's print that I want to talk about, that bottom image. These are also images from the Sydney copy. Um, and their image is actually where the printing goes. Just slightly wrong. Uh, the Merry Wives of Windsor Page has got too much ink on it. It's all glitchy. Uh, and if we were to, uh, focus in, we would see that that blotch there has a hair, had caught a hair, uh, in it. Um, uh, and that's made a, a bit, a bit of a mess. And it just reminds us, uh, what, uh, a labour intensive industry ham press printing was. Uh, we've got a picture of it there, and you may well be familiar with this, but it's a lovely, uh, um, it's a lovely image of the industry, of the print.
So in the foreground, we've got the men, uh, preparing the press, uh, inking the pages, uh, inking the type, I'm sorry, uh, with those sort of leather paddles, um, that Merry Wives of Windsor has had the, the, that done, that job done a little bit, um, in a little bit of a blocky way. But it's a great, uh, if you do any printing or any lino cuts or anything, you know, that getting an, even, even inking across the block is really, really difficult, especially when you've got this gloopy ink, uh, that you also have to make, uh, there's no, uh, patented ink. Um, so you can see them doing that there. The other guy is fixing, uh, well, is, I think is, is, is Unfix a a printed page, which he's going to, uh, take out and put down a, a, a, a piece of, uh, fresh paper.
And the piles in front of them are, uh, unprinted and, and printed sheets. Uh, and in the background, uh, in the light of the window, you can see the men who working as compositors. And so the compositors, uh, gather together, uh, each individual piece of type, and they set it in a stick called a composing stick. And when they've got about three or four lines, they transfer all that into a frame, uh, and then the, they build up the frame, uh, to, uh, to, to be, to be, uh, inked and printed there. So it's an incredibly labour intensive job. There are millions and millions and millions of individual letters, uh, in this, in this book. Uh, and the, uh, the, the letters are set out in these cases. You probably know this already, but the, uh, the case, the higher case, the upper case has the capital letters in it, and the lower down case has the small letters.
And we've, we have, we haven't still got the cases, but we've got the names. Uh, and one, one more thing. The individual pieces of type are called sorts. So a phrase we have in England, I don't know how currently it's with you to be out of sorts, to be a bit, you know, uh, really, again, comes from the print shop. It's that feeling of, oh, no more. In the, in, in printing plays, it's usually no more capital ease, uppercase ease, because plays are really heavy on that. Think about all those exits enters. Uh, there's a lot of stress on that, on that word. It's a sort of inverse scrabble, I think somehow <laugh>, uh, and down at the bottom, uh, uh, in order to take the ink, uh, in, in the print shop, the pages had to be moistened. They had to be damp. Um, and that seems to me, as someone who's quite clumsy, a recipe for an enormous amount of mess.
And one of my favourite things about looking at these book is the times when you see somebody has given a fingerprint from the print shop. These are, these are people we don't know any, but they've left their mark literally, uh, on this most famous of books. And we can see that, uh, again, uh, at the bottom, uh, in the Sydney copy, this is a book which is not much corrected. Uh, so some of our sense that every word, every comma, everything in Shakespeare is, uh, sort perfect and valuable and meaningful. Maybe a little bit off. There are a lot of accidentals, uh, in this. There was some proofreading in the print shop, but it seems mostly to have been, uh, in order to supervise the work of a new apprentice, a man called John Leeson, uh, whose main gift to this book has been to show us how skillful skilled print workers were and how hard it is to do.
He's a year, you know, he's in the first year of his apprenticeship, uh, and he's set onto this book. Uh, and clearly they don't trust him at all because they check over his work much, much more closely than anybody else's. And he does make more mistakes. What nobody does seem to check those to check against copy. So we've got, if what's effectively a check for typos, uh, that you can just look at the page without knowing anything about it, and see, that's a mistake. That's a term letter, uh, that's a nonsense word. That's a gap that needs to be filled in, and nobody's checked it, uh, against the copy. And like all, um, corrections, if you, if you correct your, uh, university essays or, uh, whatever, you'll know that in the, uh, course of correcting things, you quite often make another mistake. That's a great, uh, truism about, um, uh, proof corrections, uh, in modern publishing.
Um, what we've got here is one of the sheets that's been marked with corrections, uh, which has the then been bound up in, in a copy of the first Folio. Uh, and that's because paper is really expensive. So even if you've marked a, you know, even this is a corrected sheet, uh, you wouldn't throw it away. You would still put it in the pile, and it would be part of, uh, part of a book. And we've got about six of these, um, uh, existing that may have been more, uh, that have been washed. Um, but, but there, uh, correction marks down the margin. And then the other, uh, copy, the other, uh, copy is the same page that has been corrected, except that we can see that, uh, the circle marks a correction that hasn't been done, and the line marks a correction, which has made another mistake, uh, in its turn.
So that's kind of the, I guess that's the way of it, uh, isn't it? Uh, it's good to remind ourselves that this, um, uh, a, a, a work which is often, you know, treated with the kind of, uh, reverence, uh, of, uh, complete. Um, you know, that this is complete, uh, perfection is actually, uh, a pragmatic book. It's a contingent book. It's a book made by real people who were sometimes, you know, on a Friday afternoon, like all of us doing not their best work, um, and who were trying to work against the clock, uh, in all kinds of ways. That sense that the book had not been, uh, completely corrected, was really permissive to early readers. And I'm just going to talk in the last, very last few minutes of this talk about how people received this book. So this was an, an expensive book.
It cost a, what does that actually, uh, mean? I mean, that's a, a kind of what we would call middling, sort, middling to upper sort, uh, kind of, uh, budget. Uh, the market for books is already quite an elite market. So within that, uh, uh, it's not, it's not a particularly outstandingly expensive book, but the first people to buy it are, um, it middling to, uh, sort of lower elite, uh, status. Um, and the first folio is, um, uh, if we think about it in economic terms, in fact, it's like buying a car. As soon as you take it, uh, off the, you know, off the St. Paul's churchyard forecourt, it has lost some of its value, um, uh, and we see that, uh, through the 17th century, uh, that it doesn't become a valuable book until much later. Part of the, um, part of what's great about it not being a, a particularly valuable book and not a revered or sort of semis sacred book, as we've often made it, is that people just get down to it and change it, improve it, point out things that they don't think are correct, uh, add in things that they think are missing, uh, correct, the Latin, which is must have been a very good feeling.
Um, uh, and all this, this margin earlier is really, really fascinating. We can see people blotting out an oath. They obviously found, found offensive down at the bottom, um, adding in an exit, uh, stage direction, uh, correcting the Latin. Uh, and then this is a favourite of mine. This is Romeo and Juliet. Um, you can see in that, um, and that Juliette, uh, is talking to the Friar, and then the folio says, the Friar, uh, delivers this rather passionate speech to her, are Juliet. Uh, if the measure of thy joy be heaped like mine, and la la la and obviously this reader thought that's not appropriate, the fryer should not say that. So crosses out fryer and says, Romeo <laugh>. Um, and let's look at some other things that people did with their, with their books. Uh, this is the same. Yeah, it's fabulous, isn't it?
Absolutely fabulous. This is the same page, clearly in two copies, and they're doing two quite different things. Uh, the one on the left, uh, I think is from the Carey family in the, uh, 1630s. And they, um, are a family who've been, uh, in Ireland, and they come back to London, uh, and I think the young men of the family are excitedly throwing themselves into metropolitan culture, and they're using this list of the actors to sort of celebrity spot, really to say, I know this one, I've seen this one. I know this one by report. Uh, so this is a list of actors, more or less in chronological order. So the earlier ones have already gone. Uh, they're, you know, they're legendary already, but the, the ones, uh, as we come to the end of the right hand column, are the current actors of the king's men.
So they could still be seen acting, uh, and the Carey, uh, boys have written, uh, uh, proudly. Uh, the one I like best is, uh, next to Robert Benfield here. Let's get, see if we can get the cursor. What that little bit of writing says is, no, I know, I know him. Uh, he's, he's my, he's my famous friend, uh, and probably, uh, almost a hundred years later. This is young Elizabeth Ol, um, who has had a really good go, hasn't she, uh, in this, in this space, uh, showing us that children's, uh, house drawings have really hardly changed, uh, in 300 years. What I like about this, and obviously we don't know whether Elizabeth Kel, we know it's her because she signs her name. She has a good girl at her name later on in the book, um, and she's probably about eight years old.
Uh, we dunno whether her parents are horrified by this, but we can see that, uh, she's obviously, she's had plenty of time to do this drawing. This isn't just a kind of grab and a kind of, ah, is it? This is somebody who's sort of, I had a picture lying down on the floor, tongue out, you know, doing her, doing her drawing. Um, uh, and that suggests that at this point, at the beginning of the 18th century, this book is not shut away in a library. It's not even in the space that at that period tends to be seen as a male space, the space of the study or the library. Uh, it may be in a more, um, uh, family space, a space associated perhaps particularly with women, uh, and with children. And that's partly because of it, uh, as an English language book.
But there's other evidence that suggests quite prominently that women were early readers, early adopters, if you like, of Shakespeare. Um, and I've just given you some, uh, um, uh, examples here of women who've written their names. Uh, in the books I worry about Anne Hur, uh, she's in the, uh, copy, which is in, uh, Auckland. Um, and she has written her name, uh, four times, but in Othello and in the last scene of Othello, which, uh, I don't want to spoil it for anybody, but, um, <laugh>. So I dunno, we dunno if this is a cult cry for help across the century. So I dunno what happened to, and her, I've never been able to trace her <laugh>, uh, Mary Chapman I like very much. That's back to the most ent, isn't it? Do you think Mary Chapman thought, if only I'd started a bit further along, I could have got all my name, uh, here.
Um, uh, and then the, these two, um, uh, uh, examples are both from the Sydney copy, rather lovely ones. I dunno whether they're, uh, entirely contemporaneous. Uh, Elizabeth, uh, winder Bank at the bottom, her book, Elizabeth Winder Bank, her book, brilliant Statement. And do you know where she's put it? She's put it at the end of Hamlet. I mean, I just, I salute her. Really? What a great, what a great thing to do. Um, uh, and then, uh, Thomas Hurst on the other one, uh, the Un Worthiest of your servants, Thomas Hurst, and he's put his at the end of Anton Cleopatra. And so, I dunno if they're, I, I don't know if they're, they're together. I feel it's not gonna work. <laugh>. I think it, I think if his model for life is Anton Cleopatra and hers is Hamlet, I don't, I don't see it working.
But it's a nice example of how people are doing all kinds of things with these books. They, they matter in their lives. And I really love this period in the life of this book, um, because one of the things that has happened to it as its value has increased is that it's become more and more withdrawn from, uh, the, the ordinary kind of sociability, uh, of books. But that recorded in it are all these, uh, are all these examples. Uh, and here's, uh, some of what people also do, uh, with these books is to pick out their favourite bits to check Cherry pick. Uh, I don't think anybody ever read this book from start to finish. And probably nor nor should they, I think they dove in for the bits that they liked, for the plays that they liked, uh, and in particular, they picked out from them, uh, bits that they, uh, enjoyed.
So, in a way that anticipates what we do, that the sort of culture of quotations, but commonplace in this period is slightly different from that. I think when we, uh, pull out a quotation, we're thinking about something which is expressed in such a distinctive way that it's sort of instantly recognisable, commonplace readers Were looking actually for quotations, which could be slipped into their own writing or could help inform their own better writing. So they're looking for something more standard in a way, uh, and not exceptional. So, uh, nobody commonplaces, nobody marks for notice, A horse, a horse, my Kingdom for a horse, perhaps. 'cause they think, well, I'm probably never gonna have much use, uh, for that <laugh>. Um, but in The Tempest, which is the first play in the book, and it's often the play that is most heavily annotated, you feel as if people have started out with great intentions and perhaps, you know, uh, uh, given up the, the Tempest.
Uh, if we were thinking about, uh, quotations now, we would probably say, um, uh, brave New World that have such people in, or we might say, um, uh, uh, um, you know, our rebels now are ended or something. Our little life is rounded with a sleep. Uh, those bits are not really picked out. Um, but there's a, there's a scene that we would really hardly notice where Ferdinand the shipwreck pri prince, uh, sees Miranda, uh, Prospero's daughter on the island, and he goes into full, really quite sleazy chat up mode. She's quite bewildered by this 'cause she hasn't had any of this courtly, uh, engagement before. And he's got all these lines. It's got, oh, madam, you know, it's always freshest morning when you are by me at night. Um, and so many copies have got this underlined and you think they say, this is just gonna, this is gonna be such a winner.
This is gonna be so great. Um, okay, let's just finish up, uh, with, uh, the copy, uh, in Australia. Uh, so there are two, probably about 230 or so copies of this book, uh, still tamp. That's an extraordinary survival rate. This is not a rare book by early modern standards, and it's not rare because it's so big. It's really hard to lose. Uh, uh, you know, it's, once you've got it, I think we probably all know that the books that are best preserved, uh, in our, in our houses are the sort of big things that we sort don't really know what to do with. And you've put on a shelf and they're still there 30 years, uh, or 300 years, uh, later. Uh, the majority of these copies, uh, are in the, uh, United States. And that was part of a huge transfer of wealth, uh, cultural authority.
Um, uh, and, you know, a general transfer, uh, from Britain to, uh, America around the turn of the 20th century, uh, American, uh, industrialists, uh, were hugely, hugely wealthy. And they were, um, uh, making new money old in a way by buying up, uh, artefacts, particularly books, uh, from, uh, from England. There's a huge transfer, uh, over to the us. There are a few copies, uh, in Europe. Uh, there is one, uh, in South Africa, uh, which like the copy in Auckland was given by the same colonial British colonial Governor, uh, George Grey, uh, very, very interesting pair of books with a very, very interesting and divergent subsequent history, as you can imagine. Uh, and one copy here, uh, in Sydney, which was, uh, given by Richard Tangy, uh, a Birmingham industrialist, uh, at the end of the 19th century. I just thought I would finish. Uh, there he is, uh, in the notes of my fourth voyage to the Australian colonies. Um, he talks about this, I dunno how much rivalry there is between Australian cities. I may have completely misplaced this. Um, uh, I went to see the free library, uh, in Sydney where our first Shakespeare first folio is placed at present. This building is undergoing great alterations, but it is a very miserable place for such a city as Sydney, far inferior to the Noble Library <laugh>
At Melbourne. Uh, and I, and I think Tansy feel, felt a bit, uh, pipped that he had perhaps picked, picked the wrong, the wrong place, uh, for it. It's very, very unclear. I'm gonna, I'm making a very quick, uh, uh, visit to Sydney, uh, next week. It's very, very unclear, really kind of quite why this book, uh, and in particular ended up here. It's not part of a larger collection. Um, uh, but it's a fantastic thing, uh, to have, uh, so nearby and on display, uh, in Sydney, um, uh, in the library, uh, from now until February. Uh, so do, if you are, if you're going do, do, go and have a look at it. And let me finish with Elizabeth, uh, winder Bank again, uh, her book, our book. Thank you.
Stuart Baines: Thank you. That is amazing way to look at that, that legacy and that those words that we hold to our hearts with Shakespeare, um, I think we'll all agree that both Sydney and Melbourne, far inferior to our bush capital <laugh>. Um, we now have time for a few questions. Um, no one from Melbourne and Sydney has got up and walked out, so that's good, <laugh>. Um, if you'd like to ask a question, please raise your hand and wait for the microphone to come to you. Um, it, we need you to use the microphones for the benefit of the hearing loop and for the recording. Um, and I, I wish you would remember Professor Smith's words. Probably none of you are creative geniuses, so no stories, no sonnets. Just a question if you could,
Audience member 1: <laugh> Uh, no sonnets, I promise. Uh, professor, forgive me if I've misunderstood your words, but you seem to be saying that when Shakespeare was dying, he expected Hemmings and Condole to be creating the first folio. I've read just the opposite, that by the time that Shakespeare moved to be a move to Stratford, he'd sort of cast his, his plays to the wind, and he was interest laid completely elsewhere. In fact, he had no respect for his own writing in a way. But you seem to be saying that he died happy in the knowledge that Condor and Hemmings were gonna look after his legacy.
Emma Smith: Yeah, it's, um, uh, thanks is a really, really good question. And it's absolutely true that the standard line on Shakespeare has been, he had no interest in publishing. Uh, and I, I I, it's not clear that, uh, that he did. I suppose what's suggestive is that, uh, bequest in his will, uh, and the fact that it's Hemmings and Conde, who, it's not obvious to me why Hemmings and Conde would produce a collected edition of Shakespeare's plays, uh, unless they had in some way, uh, it had been suggested to them, or they'd taken that on as a commission. So it's a possibility from the evidence. Um, and for some, uh, some people's view is that Shakespeare's retirement to Stratford was in part to manage his own literary legacy. And in that he is going head to head with Ben Johnson, who is going to publish, uh, in 1616, the year of Shakespeare's death, his own collected works. So you are right to bring it up as a, as, as a controversy. Uh, and I think, uh, your, your sense Shakespeare didn't care about publishing and my sense that perhaps he had commissioned this, um, are both potential, uh, interpretations from the, from the evidence that we have and the lack of evidence. Thank you.
Audience member 2: Uh, thank you so much for coming today. Um, my apologies if this is a completely nebulous question with no answer, but famously, the, the plays are not in the chronological order that, that Shakespeare wrote them. Is there any sense in why they chose the particular order that they did to, to, uh, set out the plays?
Emma Smith: Um, yeah, thanks. Um, we, uh, if we, um, what would happen if we did? Oh, no, that would just move us into something else, maybe. Would I get that? No. Um, I was just gonna see if we could look at that. Um, we do know that, uh, thank you. Let's just go through the hat again. It's worth it. Uh, if we were, if we were just here for a minute, um, so what we can see, if we look at that genre of history plays, we can see that somebody has organised these plays so that they go in the chronological order of the history, not in the order that Shakespeare wrote them. For me, this is like, uh, the renumbering of the Star Wars sequence <laugh>. So a account for the fact that we do the later bit first and then the earlier bit. That's exactly what Shakespeare does with mediaeval, uh, history.
Uh, he, um, uh, and someone here has put, has done that Renumbering, star Wars one, which is clearly not Star Wars one. Um, uh, they've done that here. So that's a what why I'm saying that is, that's clearly purposeful, uh, and, and organised, and it's new that hadn't existed before, and the plays had had different titles when they'd been, uh, printed individually. So that makes us think that if you, if you were careful about how to produce those in an order, was there an order for the other things? One possible argument might be that they emphasise new plays. We've got those, uh, four out of the five first plays are new. Um, and that might be one of the ways that they're, uh, working. We also know that these first plays in the comedies, uh, seem to come from quite well prepared manuscripts, which were, uh, probably done by the in-house scribe.
It was a man called Ralph Crane. Crane was a brilliant pen penman and organised, organised, um, play material in a very clear way. Um, uh, for, for publication. I think they probably were planning to get Crane to prepare all of them to be clean copy. I think they probably ran out of money, and I think they thought that's where we're gonna start. And they didn't, they didn't carry on. Uh, there were lots of things which look as if this book had certain ambitions, which had to be, which had to be scaled down. So yeah, it's really hard to find, uh, to, to find a, um, a a an order to the other ones. And you're quite right that if you look at a collected edition that you have at home, it, if it's been produced in the last 30 or years, it's almost certain to be done in punitive chron chronological order, which tells us something, uh, about what, what our priorities about how Shakespeare's work should be organised is compared with what Hemmings and Conde thought. Thanks.
Audience member 3: Um, thank you for a wonderful talk. Thank you for a wonderful talk. Thank you. Um, I was really just so fascinated with, um, what this folio tells us in your account about the sociability of reading as, and also the relation of the print version to theatre going. And, um, I was really fascinated by the analogy to succession at the beginning that, um, watches of succession are not necessarily people that want to read, um, the screenplay. Um, yet as soon as an episode comes out, we get this response immediately on social media of, you know, opinions and quotations and sharing of memes, et cetera. And to some extent, I, I thought of this when you were taking us through some of the marginal Yeah. And also the revisions and editing, and I wondered if that had that, uh, analogy works at all.
Emma Smith: And that's a great question. Thank you. I think meme culture, the snippet snippet thing, um, for circulation either as to stand in for the whole, the kind of literary figure of syn key that you have a little bit, and it's, it's got s up the hole or as completely independent fragments, which is what, um, the little kind of videos or moments you can get to add to text messages and things. They're, they're completely extractable from their context, aren't they? And they're just somebody, you know, splitting out a drink because it's something so funny or, you know, banging the head on a desk or something. They're completely decontextualized. And that's partly what common placing does. Um, I think what's probably different is the speed and the immediacy. So this is a sort of long form Twitter thread, as we used to call it, um, you know, over o over years and years and years. But it's some of the same kind of, um, in interactivity and sharing, which I think is, I think is a really useful analogy. Yeah. Thanks for, thanks for bringing it forward.
Audience member 4: Um, um, um, I know that the Globe Theatre was closed, um, due to the Bubonic Plague. Um, did that also delay the, um, the making of the First Folio?
Emma Smith: Fantastic question. Thank you. Yeah. So Plague, uh, we've thought a lot more about how, uh, closures and sort of lockdowns, uh, <laugh>, uh, due to plague affected the theatre. We've thought much, much more about that for obvious reasons in the last two or three years, uh, than we ever did before. Um, plague, uh, is not a major factor in this period, the 1622 to 23 period. But Bubonic Plague is pretty much endemic in the summer months, uh, in London. So almost every year there's a, there's a short period, uh, of, of, of plague closure. So one thing about that, I mean, if we were trying to sort of draw from that is they learn to live with it and learn to, um, uh, you know, work, work around it. And it's sort of, there hasn't gone away, but isn't sort of absolutely anxious making all, all, all the time.
There are lots and lots of delays in producing this book. They advertise it more than a year before it actually comes out. Um, and I think that's partly for other reasons, but delays really important. Ma majorly, I think it's that, uh, there is not an author or a very, uh, assertive group who keep going to the print shop and saying, where's my book? So we can see the Jaggeds, who are the printers, William and Isaac Jagged. We can see that they down tools, uh, on Shakespeare's first Folio for about four months in order to rush through a big volume. It always somehow makes me laugh. It's not really funny. It's called The History of Leicestershire Leicestershire, <laugh> Leicestershire is not sort of, um, anyway, uh, so the, the history of Leicestershire is, is a, you know, clogs up the printing press. So it's really great to think about practical delays, uh, in bringing this, this book out. So thanks for asking the question.
Audience member 5: Thank, thank you so much. Um, I'm halfway through Portable Magic, which I'm enjoying very much.
Emma Smith: Um, fantastic. Would you like to say that again? Who wrote that book?
Audience member 5: <laugh>. Oh. Um, somebody towards the front of, of this room, <laugh>. Um, but my question is, did Hemmings and Conde leave anything in their own papers? If they left papers that shed light on what they thought they were doing? Yeah, uh, with the Folio?
Emma Smith: Not at all. Not at all. Damn, damn them. I know. Um, there's, uh, really, there's almost no, uh, paper archive of Hemming or Condell, uh, apart from their wills. So we don't really know anything about what they, what they thought we they were doing. And nor do we really, to be honest, know the extent of their involvement. Did they just bring the plays from the theatre and then sort of hand it over? Um, how far is this being supervised from the print end rather than the theatre end? Um, uh, it's a really, really difficult, difficult question, but yeah, we don't, we don't know. We know a lot about Hemming and Conde who, unlike Shakespeare, were really, um, sort of citizens of London Church wardens had loads and loads of children very active in the community in ways that Shakespeare is very invisible in, in, in those, those parts of civic life. But we dunno anything about what they thought they were doing here, unfortunately.
Audience member 6: Hi. Thank you so much, professor. Um, I was just interested to hear your opinion just on Shakespeare's work as like a broader, um, thing. Um, do you think the historical context of the text should play a part in their stage adaptations and interpretations as like a whole, or do you think the narrative should kind of be, um, considered on their own?
Emma Smith: Well, I think, um, it's, it, it's a, it's a really interesting idea, isn't it? I think, uh, the most important thing to say is that theatre is, is not, is not a museum theatre. And, and it's not archaeology, it's, it's live, it's theatre, it's now, it has to be meaningful now. Uh, and I think it's, uh, what theatre practitioners need to do is to make, uh, if they want to produce these plays, they need to make, produce them in ways that make sense to the audiences that they want to reach. Um, and I think that Shakespeare is a, it, it, I don't think we need Shakespeare's permission for that. Um, but even if, but if we did, I think he would give it. Um, he's a theatre man who knows that, uh, if you are gonna present Henry the V before the King of Scotland, you take out the comedy Scotsman fine, <laugh>, you know, I think he, he understands pragmatically, you know, who's the audience?
How is this gonna land? Uh, what do we need to do to make the connection that theatre is all about? So I am completely delighted by, and untroubled by the adaptations and things that, uh, people, that theatre makers do to bring Shakespeare alive. And I'm always being rung up by, um, outraged, uh, newspaper columnists saying, isn't this terrible? And I'm, I never quoted, 'cause I always say, no, I don't think this is terrible at all. I think, I think Shakespeare can cope. And one of the things that, um, when I mentioned Thomas Kire, who, who, uh, revived the plays at the restoration, we know that the way Shakespeare's plays, uh, keeping the repertory is through, is by being adapted. Nobody looks at Shakespeare and thinks that's perfect for now they think, okay, we can do something with that. Um, but this won't work. This won't work. Let's emphasise this. Let's put in another, let's put in more singing, you know, whatever. So it's a long history and it's a great, it's a great history, and I think, uh, we should, we should support it. Have, have someone scored
Audience member 7: <laugh>,
Emma Smith: Have we got?
Stuart Baines: Excellent. You can all stay then if it's still all
Emma Smith: <laugh>.
Stuart Baines: Thank you everybody. That's the, um, all we've got time for, for the questions. But if you can join us in the foyer to continue the conversation, and perhaps you can talk about portable magic, um, uh, fantastic book written by Professor Smith. Now, professor Smith did say, please tell everyone you don't have to buy it. However, the fate of all books depend on your purse <laugh>, um, also 10% off. Um, for those of you wanting more Shakespeare, please join us on the 22nd of September here at the library where we'll partner with a n u and Bell Shakespeare for an illustrated lecture where we explore some of the influences on Shakespeare from our collection and beyond. Can you all please join me in thanking Professor Emma Smith once again?
Hear from Oxford academic Professor Emma Smith, the world’s leading Shakespeare scholar, as she discusses Shakespeare’s First Folio as part of its 400 year anniversary.
Shakespeare’s First Folio is the world’s most important non-religious book. This illustrated lecture explores its significance, from the collaboration between the theatre and print worlds which brought it into being, to the readers, collectors and actors who have used it over the last four centuries. Lots of people have left their mark on this book in ways which tell us about its importance at different times and different places, including, since 1885, Australia.
About Professor Emma Smith
Professor Emma Smith is a lecturer in English at the University of Oxford, Professor of Shakespeare Studies, and a Fellow of Hertford College.
Her work on Shakespeare's First Folio combined the history of the book with work on collecting, historical performance, the editorial tradition and Shakespeare's cultural and economic value over four centuries. She has published a number of essays on key Shakespearean themes that try to understand why and how we have come to think what we think about Shakespeare's plays.
Professor Smith's book This Is Shakespeare was a Sunday Times bestseller and has been translated into several other languages. She has written for a number of newspapers and journals in the US and the UK, and beyond. Her most recent publication is Portable Magic, a book about the history of books. She also edits the journal Shakespeare Survey (Cambridge University Press).
Professor Smith has also worked with theatre companies including at the Royal Shakespeare Company, National Theatre and Donmar Warehouse, participated in radio programmes including Radio 3's Sunday Feature and Radio 4's In Our Time and The Long View, and served as a consultant for TV and film.
Image credit: Sophia Evans/ The Guardian