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The ghosts of Troilus and Cressida

image of Catalogue with handwritten Troilus title
The catalogue, or list of plays, was printed without Troilus and Cressida. One copy has the title added in manuscript.
Courtesy of Palace Green Library, Durham University
Bishop Cosin's Library: Cosin W.2.11

Troilus and Cressida almost didn’t make it into the First Folio. The publishers intended to include it and started printing the play after Romeo and Juliet in the Tragedies section, but failed to secure permission to print from the owner of the “copy” rights, another member of the Stationers’ Company. As a result, printing on Troilus stopped after the first three pages. We will follow the printers through some of their problem solving solutions and ad-hoc accommodations—the ghosts of their trial-and-error—as they finished printing Romeo and Juliet and resumed printing Troilus when the publishers negotiated the necessary permission, after all.

Troilus abandoned: ghost #1

In the regular course of things, gathering “gg” would have contained pages 73 through 84 of the Tragedies. To put it a different way, the gathering would have contained the last five pages of Romeo and the first seven pages of Troilus. In actuality, only one sheet of this planned gathering was printed before the printing was interrupted. As you’ve done before, start with the pages in the middle to complete the first sheet. Then, in this case, stop.

1r | p. 73
1v | p. 74
2r | p. 75
2v | p. 76
3r | p. 77
3v | p. 78
4r | p. 79
4v | p. 80
5r | p. 81
5v | p. 82
6r | p. 83
6v | p. 84
Reset

3v

4r

3|4 (inner)

4v

3r

3|4 (outer)
Reset

2v

5r

2|5 (inner)

5v

2r

2|5 (outer)
Reset

1v

6r

1|6 (inner)

6v

1r

1|6 (outer)

Drag the single sheet into position in the gathering diagram to see how two plays were affected by this one sheet. As an experiment, you might construct the whole gathering to see what “gg” was intended to look like. Once all the sheets are full, drag them into the proper order in the gathering and click “Read” to view your work in book mode. If you have trouble, you can click “Auto-gather” to have the sheet placed in the gathering diagram automatically.

Gathering gg6

1

2

3

4

5

6

Pages 73 through 84: The page numbers and other wayfinders have been altered in these special page images to simulate the way the pages would have looked if they were printed without interruption. However, there is no such surviving sequence of pages. Instead, interruptions in the pagination and gatherings are effectively witnesses to the disruptions in the printing of Troilus.

Because the printers had to stop the presses after printing the first sheet, it looks like that single printed sheet might have to go to waste. More urgently, as you can see, the final four pages of Romeo still had to be printed.