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Shakespeare Variorum Handbook: A Manual of Editorial Practice

The second edition of the Shakespeare Variorum Handbook: A Manual of Editorial Practice was prepared by Richard Knowles for the Committee on the New Variorum Edition of Shakespeare of the Modern Language Association of America.

Copyright 2003 by the Committee on the New Variorum Edition of Shakespeare of the Modern Language Association of America. You may print, reproduce, and use the information in these files for noncommercial, personal, or educational purposes only, provided that you (i) do not modify such information and (ii) acknowledge that this is the work of the author, Richard Knowles. Permission is hereby given to link to this Web page from any Web site but not to post it on another site without express written consent of the MLA (

Comments or questions regarding the editorial content of the Variorum Handbook may be directed to Richard Knowles (

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Preface and Acknowledgments  vi
I. Introduction: The Scope and Purpose of the New Variorum Shakespeare  1
II. The Treatment of the Text  6
   The choice of copy-text  6
   The general nature of the Variorum text  6
   Substantive emendation  6
   Dramatis personae list  8
   Bibliographical information  9
   Emendation of accidentals  9
   Lineation  12
III. Act-and-Scene Division and Numbering  14
IV. Line-Numbering  22
   Line-numbering procedures for TLN  22
   Riverside act-scene-line numbers  25
V. A Procedure for Typing the Text  26
VI. Textual Notes  28
   Mechanics  28
   Emendations of the copy-text  33
   Emendations recorded in the textual notes  33
   Emendations recorded in the appendix  34
   Emendations not recorded  34
   Historical collation  35
   General principles  35
   Substantive variants  37
   Semi-substantive variants  37
   Variants of accidentals  40
   Variant lineation  42
   Variant stage directions  45
   Variant speech prefixes  46
   Variant act and scene headings  47
   Variant place headings  47
   Conjectures  48
   General principles of writing (and re-writing) textual notes  49
   Lists of editions collated  51
VII. Collating Editions: Procedures  52
   Preliminaries: choosing and ordering the editions  52
   Mechanics: a working method for historical collation of texts  53
VIII. Notes on Editions of Shakespeare  58
IX. Commentary Notes  106
   Scope and contents  106
   Quotation and citation  107
   Definitions  107
   Proverbs  107
   Biblical parallels  107
   Shakespeare  107
   Style of the notes  107
   Writing Variorum commentary  108
   Working space  108
   Preliminaries  108
   Note-taking  109
   Selection  110
   Consistency of form  111
   Cross-references  112
   Citation of dictionaries  113
X. The Appendices  115
   Emendations of Accidentals  115
   Conjectural emendations  115
   Text  116
   Date of composition  116
   Sources  116
   Criticism  118
   Style  119
   Topicality  119
   Staging and stage history  120
   Performances  120
   Special problems of staging  121
   The text of the play on the stage  121
   Costume, scenery  122
   Doubling of parts  122
   Music  122
   Bibliography  122
   Index  123
XI. Editorial Policy and Style  124
   Permissions  124
   Quotations  124
   Citation of sources  127
   Cross-references  129
   Act, scene, and line reference  129
   Use of Abbreviations  130
   Spelling  130
   Capitalization and italics  130
   Spacing  131
   Numbers  131
   Dates  131
   Submitting the manuscript  132
XII. Abbreviations and Sigla  133
   Shakespeare's plays and poems  133
   Journals, series, and reference books  135
   Scholarly and editorial terms  136
   Editions of Shakespeare  142
XIII. Bibliographies  148
   The contents of the entries  148
   The style of the entries  151
   Procedures  155
XIV. The Role of Computers  157
   Practical uses of personal computers  157
   Internet research resources  159
   Anticipating electronic publication  164
XV. Appendices: Supplementary Finding-Lists  166
   1. Commentators and Conjectors  166
   Persons  166
   Manuscript annotations  172
   2. The Stage Historian at the British Library and the Folger  175
   3. Theatrical Records at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust  178
   4. Theater Editions  182
   5. Notes on Shakespeare in the Gentleman's Magazine  184
   6. Notes on Shakespeare in the St. James Chronicle  190


© 2015 Modern Language Association. Last updated 04/02/2008.