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The Hidden History of Women Editing Shakespeare, 1800-1950



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Yarn, Molly Greer 


When the call for gender diversity in the Shakespearean editorial field first gained strength in the 1980s and 1990s, it initiated a major and necessary course correction for a profession that had been dominated by men for over three centuries; however, the discussion it sparked focused primarily on women’s connections with the present and future of editing, allocating only limited time and resources to the past. Thus, until now, the extent of women’s involvement in editorial history has not been fully explored, and a female editorial tradition dating back to the early nineteenth century has been largely neglected. This dissertation presents the first large-scale overview of women editing Shakespeare between 1800 and 1950 in the United States and the United Kingdom, drawing on extensive archival resources, biographical materials, and the editions prepared by women to demonstrate that women editors existed in larger numbers than previously understood, and that their work contains numerous avenues for scholarly investigation. It enriches the landscape of nineteenth-century textual work and offers insights into the process of textual canon formation and the evolution of the editorial role. The Introduction begins by interrogating the role of editor and considering how the issues surrounding both the editor and textual labour in general contribute to the absence of women from editorial history. Chapter One looks more closely at women’s literary labour, focusing on women involved in the New Shakspere Society during the nineteenth century. Following Chapter One is a brief section on the uses and formats of student editions, the form most often produced by women editors of Shakespeare. Chapter Two discusses American student editions and the network of women editors active in the United States around the fin de siècle. Chapter Three surveys the presentation of nationalism, patriotism, imperialism, and colonialism in British school editions of Henry V and The Tempest. Preceding Chapter Four is an introduction to women who edited authors other than Shakespeare or who performed types of bibliographical labour other than editing. Chapter Four offers an overview of the New Bibliography of the early twentieth century, and examines how changing conditions in academia, editing, and publishing led to a decrease in women editors by the mid-century. There are two appendices containing additional information. The first is a quick reference guide to women who prepared editions of Shakespeare between 1800 and 1950, including biographies and lists of their editions. The second appendix is a list of editions prepared by women since 1800.





Scott-Warren, Jason


Women, Editors, Editions, Shakespeare, Textual History


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge