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Title: We have a constant will to publish : the publishers of Shakespeare's First Folio
Author: Higgins, Benjamin David Robert
ISNI:       0000 0004 6346 4101
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis is a cultural history of the publishing businesses that financed Shakespeare's First Folio. The thesis argues that by 1623 each of the four businesses that formed the Folio syndicate had developed an influential reputation in the book trade, and that these reputations were crucial to the cultural positioning of the Folio on publication. Taking its lead from a dynamic new field of study that has been called 'cultural bibliography', the thesis investigates the histories and publishing strategies of the business owned by the stationers William and Isaac Jaggard, who are usually thought of as the leading members of the Folio project, as well as those owned by William Aspley, John Smethwick, and Edward Blount. Through detailed analysis of the publishing strategies of each stationer, the thesis puts forward new theories about how these men influenced the reception of the Folio by transferring onto it their brands, and the expectations of their readerships. The business of each Folio stationer was like a stage with an audience assembled around it, waiting for the next production to emerge. This thesis identifies the publishing activities that attracted the audiences of the Jaggards, Blount, Smethwick, and Aspley, and ultimately suggests the Folio was granted significant legitimacy through the collaboration of these men. After an introductory chapter that locates the thesis in its scholarly field, the first chapter tells the history of syndicated book publishing in England, and reviews what we know of the pre-production process of the First Folio, taking a particular interest in how the publishing syndicate formed. The following chapters then form a series of case studies of the four publishing businesses, reviewing the apprenticeships and careers of each stationer before suggesting how those careers created a context of meaning for the Folio. These case studies focus on the authoritative reference publishing of the Jaggards, the religious publishing of William Aspley, the geographical location of John Smethwick's publishing business beside the Inns of Court, and the cultural achievements of Edward Blount. In conclusion the thesis explores the idea that it was the unique partnership of these businesses that consecrated the Folio as an emblem of literary taste.
Supervisor: Stern, Tiffany Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Publishers and publishing--Great Britain--History--17th century ; Book industries and trade--Great Britain--History--17th century ; Printing--Great Britain--History--17th century ; English literature--Early modern ; 1500-1700--History and criticism