Woudhuysen 1996

From Whiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Woudhuysen, H. R. Sir Philip Sidney and the Circulation of Manuscripts, 1558–1640. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1996.

Sidney's modern scholarly editor chose early printed editions for his copy-text, recording substantial variants where they occurred in 2 or more witnesses

"Ringler's analysis of the textual relations and of the evolution of Sidney's poems was brilliantly reasoned and mostly persuasive; but could his text, based as it was on printed copy deriving from lost authorial transcripts, be improved by reconsidering the readings in the extant scribal manuscripts?" (2)
"They [manuscript witnesses] certainly played an important part in establishing Sidney's texts, but they might possibly reveal something about the social relations of the world in which he moved, and about the larger business of the manuscript circulation of literary works. The poems themselves were a prominent feature of this since so many were found in the manuscript miscellanies of the period, but there were also the examples of the many handwritten copies of the Old Arcadia, the dozens of copies of his letter to Queen Elizabeth concerning her proposed French marriage, and the stray manuscripts of his other works to consider. What might a study—not primarily a textual study—of these witnesses have to say about the circumstances and about the communities in which his works were first copied and read?" (3)
"In the past few years, largely as a result of Beal's work, manuscript studies may be said to have come of age, but they have not yet grown up. The subject still needs its STC to catalogue the

books themselves, its McKerrow and its Gaskell to explain how they were physically produced, and its Greg and its Bowers to establish how they should be described, what can be deduced from their make-up, and how their role in the editing of texts might be freshly considered in theory and in practice." (6)

after accession of Elizabeth, "it becomes possible to begin to assemble evidence that copying was undertaken not just as a private exercise for the writer's own pleasure, or for a specific patron, but as a public, even as a commercial, venture. If one author or his works could be said to have played a leading part in this transition, it has to be Sidney, whose practice indicated a new use of manuscript publication. The textual evidence shows that he allowed at least eight copies of the Old Arcadia to be made in the space of as little as two years. Similarly, his A letter to Queen Elizabeth, which survives in numerous copies, was extensively circulated only in manuscript to complement the printed attack on the French marriage which cost its author, John Stubbs, his right hand. Considered in this light, Sidney ceases for the purposes of this book to be a conveniently representative figure. Instead, I shall argue that he may have changed the private character of manuscript production, altering and reviving it while at the same time seeking to preserve its origins, which he saw as primarily literary. Sidney's role in the process of changing manuscript culture can be related to his self-consciousness as an author: in his most famous works he presents himself—or versions of himself—as Philisides and Amphialus, as Astrophil, and as the confiding first-person defender of poetry. In that work, (p.9) which addresses a community of readers rather than just a community of writers, he might be said to have begun the creation of a literary, reading public. He presented himself as a specific author addressing an identifiable audience. The writer, in his works, became a fictional character, became, up to a point, a hero in his own right. In all of this it might be said that Sidney followed his master Chaucer in more ways than one." (8-9)

Sidney as exemplary case; many manuscript compilers seemed not to care whether poem was by e.g. Donne or Jonson; not the case with Sidney

"The attraction of manuscript circulation lay in the medium's social status, its personal appeal, relative privacy, freedom from government control, its cheapness, and its ability to make works quickly available to a select audience. Print, on the other hand, let writers attract and manipulate readers not just through the familiar forms of dedications and addresses, but by exploiting the special feel that the medium has—a feel which allows the creation of what has been called ‘charisma’. A work in manuscript is transformed when it is put into print. This is especially so with poetry, part of whose aesthetic experience lies in the look of the poem on the page:" (15)
"Modern readers tend to regard a printed work as in its final form, but for some Renaissance writers (and later authors, such as Tennyson), a first printing was only an intermediate stage in the creation of a work. Neither Daniel nor Drayton appeared able to stand back and see what they had written clearly, until it had reached print, and then the process of revising, rewriting, and rearranging could properly begin, sometimes almost at once." (15)
" To professional poets print was the only medium that mattered. Some writers like Turbervile or Gascoigne do not appear to have let their work circulate in manuscript at all. Other writers had a more complicated attitude to the copying of their works in manuscript." (16)
"Print was not necessarily always a more finished or final form than manuscript, since the dialogue between writer and reader could be continued by the reader's handwritten additions to the printed text. Manuscript and print were not entirely separate entities." (22)


"The Oxford musician John Lilliat seems to have bound together a collection of his own and others’ manuscript poems at the end of a copy of Thomas Watson's Hekatompathia (1582).53 In the case of the important St John's College, Cambridge, manuscript of William Alabaster's poems, the evidence of binding is clearer: the sonnets, copied between 1627 and 1628, are written on leaves preceding a Book of Hours printed at Lyons in 1558, bound in sixteenth-century decorated calf. When taking notes from Holinshed's Chronicles, Lambarde decided that it would be pleasant to interleave them in a copy of T. T.’s A booke, containing the true portraiture of the kings of England, a series of woodcut pictures published by the writing-master Jean de Beauchesne.55 Having got hold of William Harrison's copy of Adolphus Occo's printed work on coins, D’Ewes especially bought a copy of the book so that he could transcribe Harrison's many manuscript additions into his volume.5" (22)

The Circulation of Manuscripts, 1558-1640

"Handwriting was taught by copying from sheets written by the master or by a scrivener. A few examples of these sheets survive showing different sorts of alphabets and specimens of the scribe's decorative skills." (30) -- printed books with plates to copy

Peter Bales, famous scribe; "Born in London, Bales seems to have begun his writing career at Oxford where perhaps he was connected with Gloucester Hall.17 By 1575 he was back in London displaying his skill in (p.33) miniature writing and shorthand, by presenting the Queen with a gold and crystal ring within which he had written the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments, a prayer for the Queen, and the date. Mentioned by Holinshed and Stow, this feat became widely known and was referred to by Nashe, Lyly, Dekker, and (obliquely) by Donne among others." (32-3)

"I believe the links between (p.36) writing-masters, engravers, heralds, painters, and silversmiths deserve further investigation. Writing-masters employed engravers to produce plates for their copy-books, but where engraved plates have inscriptions it seems likely that writing-masters were employed to supply these for the engravers to copy." (35-6)

examples of Peter Bales and John Davies show writing-masters as circulating within literary circles

writing-masters above copyists

"stationers and booksellers dealt in printed books and some writing-materials, and occasionally may even have been able to supply scribal assistance. However, in these few surviving lists of stationers’ and booksellers’ stock there are no references to manuscripts themselves." (48)
" it seems likely that stationers and booksellers sold or loaned manuscripts to the general public and were involved in their production—this was most likely a sideline to their main business. " (50)
"Especially outside the City of London and the university towns, stationers and booksellers did not have the monopoly of the trade in new and old works.27 In the country grocers, haberdashers, and hawkers (like Autolycus) sold books and broadsides." (51)

multiple senses of word "scrivener"; could be someone who copied for money, or could mean a host of "professional penmen: scribes, copyists, writing-masters, transcribers, librarians, and secretaries" (53)

"t seems likely that many men, who were not members of the Company but were involved in legal work, called themselves scriveners, implying a conscious overlap between general scribal work and law-writing. The distinction between trades or the emerging professions at this time was not always clear, and the Company's power to regulate law-writing was in practice bound to be only partial. Scriveners and notaries (those authorized to certify deeds and other documents, to administer oaths, and to take affidavits) were essentially legal writers and the exact relationship between the two professions was not a precise one: many scriveners were notaries, but not all notaries were scriveners." (54)

writers of court hand (scriveners, law) and writers of text hand (stationers, limners, bookbinders, booksellers) went separate ways at beginning of 15c

"The literate were called upon to set down and to read private letters. People who could not use a pen or who wanted a skilled scribe to write something neatly for them had to pay for it. Among state and private papers there are numerous groups of petitions, once folded to be placed directly in the hands of the monarch, courtiers, ecclesiastics, or judges, as they walked by and, with luck, read on the spot. It is unlikely that the petitioners themselves could write their addresses with the skill and care evidently felt to be appropriate to the occasion. Many are written on fine paper of high quality and some sheets have their edges gilded. " (62)
" Complaints by established authors suggest their contempt for scriveners, implying that copyists’ sons and apprentices began to fancy themselves as original writers. " (65)


"Each department of government, each section of the many courts, each division within the royal household, had to have secretaries or clerks to organize business, and scribes and ‘extraordinary’ clerks to write letters, draw up documents, make and keep copies, reckon accounts, summarize information, take notes at meetings, and all the other duties which administrative, legal, and financial business required. Originally, the secretary kept secrets, was private with his employer, so that writing in his own hand would be a necessary part of his work, a guarantee of confidentiality. But as a secretary's powers and duties became greater, he would have to delegate his work." (67)
"The legal world revolved around this writing and copying. From the lowest clerks to members of the Inns of Chancery, law was largely learnt by the practice of the pen. " (69)
"The wealth of information that survives about secretaries during the reigns of Elizabeth, James, and Charles suggests how crucial they were to the running of important households. In the best humanist traditions, a secretary's post was probably considered a good beginning for young men recently down from the universities who might aspire to become writers—the job no doubt offered a better start to a literary career than the hard school of living by hack writing in London." (77)

many writers acted as secretaries to nobleman -- one way women were excluded from literary circles

"The role of secretary (p.81) sometimes overlapped with that of tutor and the two posts might have been held by a domestic chaplain." (80-1)
"The main employers of secretaries and tutors, however, were the heads of wealthy and important families, providing themselves thereby with a convenient means of exercising direct patronage. The secretary's principal official duties lay in organizing his employer's correspondence, writing and transcribing letters, memorandums, and other documents, keeping notes of his business and reminding him of his affairs. It is possible that some secretaries acted as ‘readers’, interpreters of texts, especially classical ones as they related to contemporary political affairs—such a role has been claimed for both Gabriel Harvey and Henry Cuffe." (83)
"Yet despite all this information about who acted as secretary for whom, the nature of the post and the individual relationship between employer and employee necessarily mean that it is hard to generalize safely about secretaries’ work. For example, Donne's exact duties for Egerton during his four years’ service are unknown: he was employed with two other secretaries, George Carew and Gregory Downhall (who both became Masters in Chancery), but, (p.85) with one solitary exception, Donne's hand has not been found among the Lord Keeper's papers now in the Huntington." (84-5)