Category Material culture

Tech and the Tempest: Some Brief Thoughts

I was pleased to come across Gregory Doran’s remarks about The Tempest, which will be staged at the RSC in the summer with a “digital” Ariel (/Aerial?).  Doran points out the influence of court spectacle on Shakespeare, noting that early modern “masques” were the multi-media events of their day, using innovative technology from the Continent to produce astonishing […]

The Yellow Dormitory: A 1914 inscription and Robert Herrick’s Hesperides

I was really taken with this inscription in the opening pages of an early 20th-century copy of Herrick’s Hesperides, which I found tucked away in a second-hand bookshop in Rochester. It’s bound in wrinkled leather.  The dedication is dated 7th April 1914–roughly three and a half months before the outbreak of the First World War. Innocence […]

Commonplace Books: A Classroom Introduction

Leading up to the start of term, I have been preparing some materials for a class I will be teaching on early modern literature.  Although everybody takes notes when they are reading, I thought it might be interesting to follow the lead of others who teach early modern classes and encourage students to frame this […]

Closer to performance? Some thoughts on “literary” quartos

There are so many debates about the form of the printed playtext – what it represents, how close to the stage it is, where it comes from, to whom it can be ascribed.  Much criticism and theatre history was written in the twentieth century to re-situate  (or restore?) quarto and folio playtexts on the stages […]

Materiam superabat opus: Prynne’s Practical Anti-theatricalism

In the preface “To the Christian Reader” of William Prynne’s Histrio-mastix (1633), the author excuses the size of his work, “too large for so slight a subiect.”  Prynne defends its “tedious prolixitie” by reference to Ovid’s Metamorphoses: But as it were no disparagement to Phaebus his palace; that (a) the workmanship of it did exceede […]

Not Forgetting Guil: Marshall

Guil. Marshall is born in 1647.  He is the artist formerly known as William. *** Sometime at the beginning of March 1649, one Mumford, a bookbinder and “a poore man living in St. Pulchers Parish” had “taken some…Bookes to bind,” reportedly in order to earn money for his family and his pregnant wife.  Yet, according […]

Of Francis Bacon’s garden and the “local” moral emblem

The essayist, moral philosopher, and statesman Francis Bacon claims that gardens are “the purest of human pleasures” (430).  In the essay “Of Gardens,” he details the varying perfumes of flowers and the planting of trees, “wild vine…violets, strawberries, and primroses.”  Bacon advises the reader of the ideal sizes, division, and shape of a garden, the appropriate […]