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The folio collections of Shakespeare, Jonson and King James
Jane Rickard

This chapter considers how distinctive the so-called First Folio was, particularly with regard to how it represents the relationship between books and readers, by comparing it to other collected editions of the Jacobean period. The two most significant folio collections of the Jacobean period before 1623 are the Workes of Ben Jonson (1616) and the Workes of the patron of Shakespeare's playing company, King James, of the same year, which has attracted very little critical attention. The author argues that argue that Shakespeare's Folio more fully realises not only some of what Jonson and James tried to achieve for their Workes, but also what they tried anxiously to deny and resist. He also suggests that, while the role of Jonson's Workes in enabling the publication of Shakespeare's Folio seven years later has been acknowledged, more consideration needs to be given to the role of James.

in Shakespeare’s book
Essays in reading, writing and reception

This book examines Shakespeare's works in relation to different contexts of production and reception. Several of the chapters explore Shakespeare's relationship with actual printers, patrons and readers, while others consider the representation of writing, reading and print within his works themselves. The collection gives us glimpses into different Shakespeares: Shakespeare the man who lived and worked in Elizabethan and Jacobean London; Shakespeare the author of the works attributed to him; and 'Shakespeare', the construction of his colleagues, printers and readers. In examining these Shakespeares, and the interactions, overlaps and disjunctions between them, the chapters offer different conceptions of Shakespearean 'authorship'. Some chapters try to trace Shakespeare as the creative force behind his works, charting, for example, what variations between different editions of the same play might tell us about his processes of composition. Others focus on the ways in which Shakespeare was the product of a particular historical and cultural moment, and of the processes of publishing and reading. What all of the contributors share, however, is a sense of the importance of books – the books Shakespeare read, the books he represented within his works, the books within which his works were first read – to our understanding of Shakespeare's cultural significance for his contemporaries and for us.

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‘Th’world’s volume’: printer, page and the literary field
Richard Wilson
,
Jane Rickard
, and
Richard Meek

This book examines Shakespeare's works in relation to these different contexts of production and reception. Several of the chapters that follow explore Shakespeare's relationship with actual printers, patrons and readers, while others consider the representation of writing, reading and print within his works themselves. The first part of the book focuses on representations of reading, writing and printing within Shakespeare's plays. The second part of the book turns to the textual history of Shakespeare's plays and asks what this history might tell us about his practice as a writer and his relationship to both stage and page. The final part of the book turns to assumed and actual readers of Shakespeare's works. It reflects the centrality of the First Folio to the early construction of Shakespeare as an author. The book joins other recent work in engaging with questions that have been given insufficient attention.

in Shakespeare’s book