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Caught My Eye by Katina: New book celebrates the lost work of Shakespeare’s female editors

by | Feb 25, 2022 | 0 comments

New book celebrates the lost work of Shakespeare’s female editors appears in The Guardian and is by Alison Flood, The Guardian’s books reporter and the former news editor of the Bookseller.

Scholar Molly Yarn identifies more than 60 women who have contributed to the history of the Bard’s works, and believes there are still more to find

Reviewing Charles and Mary Cowden Clarke’s illustrated edition of Shakespeare’s plays in 1869, an anonymous critic blamed “the numberless alterations, mutilations, corruptions, or whatever we may choose to call them” on Mary, and wished that “the lady editor had refrained from thus tampering with our great poet’s language”. More than 150 years later, the lost work of the female editors of Shakespeare is set to be recovered in a new book which aims to overturn the male-dominated history of his writings.

Independent scholar Molly Yarn drew on university and library archives, and the records of government agencies, while writing Shakespeare’s ‘Lady Editors’, which is out on 9 December from Cambridge University Press. She looked at letters, diaries, contracts, ledgers and wills to uncover the contribution women have made to Shakespearean scholarship.

“I vastly underestimated how many I would find – I knew of about 20, and probably would have been happy with 30 or 35. Obviously I got more than I bargained for,” says Yarn, who is also associate editor of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s new edition of the Complete Works. “I include 69 editors in the book, but that number should definitely be higher; there are a few that I left out for boring, technical reasons, and I’m sure there are still more to find. There’s much more work to be done in this area…”

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