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date: 17 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Scholars have established Jonson’s art, reputation, and character almost entirely through study of his works in print in early quartos and the 1616 and 1640 Folios and thus have largely failed to investigate how Jonson composed his works in manuscript and how these manuscripts were copied, circulated, and used in the transmission of his texts, including into print. Thus Jonson’s careful, and often painstaking, construction of himself in manuscript form in his own time, which was widely imitated in manuscript form by his later readers, remains marginalized in the modern age, which continues to privilege print. This study of his many extant autograph and scribal manuscripts suggests that rather than being uniquely fastidious and flawless in composing his texts, Jonson considered writing to be a fluid, incomplete, and unstructured process that never seemed to end, and thus he composed and transmitted his texts to the playhouse and to printers in the same way as his contemporaries and colleagues.

Keywords: Jonson, manuscripts, scribes, revision, poetry, plays, masques, Shakespeare, Alleyn, Henslowe

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