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The Collation

Ten copies of the “bad” 1640 Sonnets in good and bad shape

The Folger Shakespeare Library has ten copies of the second edition of Shakespeare’s sonnets (STC 22344).

All ten copies of STC 22344 in a row

All ten copies of STC 22344 in a row

Engraved portrait (fol. p1v) and the first title page (fol. *1r) from copy 1.

Engraved portrait (fol. p1v) and the first title page (fol. *1r) from copy 1

  1. H.E. Rollins (ed.), A new variorum of Shakespeare. The sonnets. Philadelphia & London, 1944. Vol. 2, pp. 18–19. We know that Christophe Plantin sometimes post-dated editions to make them appear more up to date, for instance when the books still had to be shipped to the Frankfurt book fair.
  2. Rollins, A new variorum, vol. 2, p. 20.
  3. Megan Heffernan, “Turning Sonnets into Poems: Textual Affect and John Benson’s Metaphysical Shakespeare” Shakespeare Quarterly 64 (2013): 71-98.


Seeing them all in a row makes it very clear that they may all share a call number, but contain tremendous variety:

@john_overholt — May 24, 2013


Making my inner bibliographer happy Ten copies of the “bad” 1640 Sonnets in g…

@DrSKBarker — May 24, 2013


Life & times of 10 copies of same book: #rarebooks #speccolls

@bob_maclean — May 25, 2013


Great post! I’ve long had a soft spot for Benson, not least because he’s had such a raw deal from scholars. For example, here’s Samuel Butler: “…Benson was devoid of any literary instinct. It would be incredible to those who do not know Benson’s book, how terribly the Sonnets suffer when read under his headings, and in the juxtaposition in which he has seen fit to disarrange them… ‘Cursed be he that moves my bones,’ indeed! If the Sonnets are not the bones of Shakespeare they are nothing.” And, yet, Benson’s edition was–as these copies indicate–the version that many (most?) readers of Shakespeare’s sonnets between 1640 and 1780 would have been used…

Ian Gadd — May 28, 2013


[…] covered). As a result, multiple copies of what is ostensibly the same printed book come down to us looking very different depending on the choices made by the owner and binder. Yet, it would be untrue to suggest that this was always the case. Evidence points to a range of […]

Confessions of a parchment-bindomaniac: an unusual tacketed survivor « University of Glasgow Library — June 6, 2013


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