Beinecke: Warner

This is my last and shortest post from the Beinecke materials for now, and it will focus exclusively on the notes of Richard Warner, a friend of David Garrick who began an edition of Shakespeare but abandoned his efforts when he learnt of preparations for the Steevens edition. What remains of Warner’s attempt to become a Shakespeare editor includes various letters proposing emendations (including one to Garrick about what was meant by a ‘periwig’ in Elizabethan England), a published Glossary to Shakespeare, dedicated to Garrick, and a large pile of manuscript notes, held at Yale and unlike anything else I was looking at on my visit. Given the connections between Warner and Garrick, my hope was that these notes would reveal the embryonic form of an edition of Shakespeare’s works more sympathetic to the stage than that of Pope.

Warner's 'address book' of Shakespeare's contemporaries.
Warner’s ‘address book’ of Shakespeare’s contemporaries.

Unfortunately, this proved not to be the case. The notes themselves consist largely of methodical lists of words in need of glossing or of apparent meanings that lack an authority. There’s also a little volume which looks like an address book and lists the dates and works of Shakespeare’s contemporary writers under the first letter of their surname. Amongst all these lists, however, there is precious little to support my starting hunch. Words from the theatre are rarely marked out for a gloss: only ‘abridgement’ and ‘excursions’ get this treatment. Similarly, it is tempting to see some sympathy for the stage in the way Warner leaves out ‘players’ from the possible sources of mistake he’s spotted in As You Like It, it being simply the fault, in his view, “of the author or editor”. Any conclusions based on this, however, may well be forcing things.

What I did get from going through these piles of notes, however, is a sense of the labour such an edition would need. This post therefore will be largely made of captioned pictures, and I’ll finish simply by saying that some of Warner’s editorial work can be seen online in the Beinecke’s digitisation of his interleaved Shakespeare.

Warner's list of words to be glossed, including 'excursions'.
Warner’s list of words to be glossed, including ‘excursions’.


A fair copy of a list of words beginning with ‘C’ in need of authorities for their supposed meaning.


A rare draft of a gloss; this one is for 'cothurn'.
A rare draft of a gloss; this one is for ‘cothurn’.

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