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Wed 19th November 2014
From the ephemeral newspaper to the scholarly edition intended to last for decades, the multiplicity of ‘editions’ encompasses every level of literary production and points to numerous questions about the aims and effects of published writing. The use of scholarly expertise to produce new editions of established literary works either for specialists or for a broader readership is a long-established activity within the Department and within English studies more generally since the early twentieth century. At that time, the new discipline claimed one kind of legitimacy by honouring its acknowledged great writers with scholarly editions on the model of those associated with Latin and Greek authors. In recent years, the dramatic expansion of student numbers in British universities, together with the continuing popularity of English as a degree subject, has led to an exceptionally high output of accessible footnoted editions of standard texts in series such as Oxford World’s Classics. Such changing practices prompt reflection on the purposes and theory of editing in its many scholarly and less scholarly forms.
UCL English is involved in many kinds and levels of editing, spanning many genres and periods.
Gregory Dart is General Editor of a new Collected Edition of the Works of Charles and Mary Lamb, which is to be published in Oxford University Press’s English Authors series. He is himself editing the volumes devoted to Lamb’s Works of 1818, the Elia essays, and the Uncollected Prose.
Paul Davis’s edition of Rochester’s Selected Poems (OUP), was published in 2013. It is the first selection of his work in modern spelling to take account of recent revolutionary advances in textual scholarship.
Mark Ford has edited selections and collections of a number of contemporary New York poets. These include, Frank O’Hara, ‘Why I Am Not a Painter’ and Other Poems (Carcanet, 2003); The New York Poets I (Carcanet, 2004), and II (with Trevor Winkfield, Carcanet, 2006); and John Ashbery: Collected Poems, Vol. 1, 1944-1990 (Library of America, 2008).
Philip Horne is General Editor of the Cambridge University Press edition of The Complete Fiction of Henry James in 35 volumes, the first fully scholarly edition of James's fiction. He is himself editing The Golden Bowl and James’s notebooks.
Julia Jordan is one of the co-editors (with Jonathan Coe and Philip Tew) of Well Done God! Selected Prose and Drama of B. S. Johnson (London: Picador, 2013). This anthology marks both the 80th anniversary of Johnson's birth and a resurgence in interest in his work, and makes available a selection of previously unpublished or uncollected writing, from his journalism and plays to his major prose work Aren’t Your Rather Young to Be Writing Your Memoirs?
John Mullan has edited Samuel Johnson’s Lives of the Poets (OUP, 2009) as well as Daniel Defoe’s Roxana (OUP, 1988) and The Political History of the Devil and A Journal of the Plague Year (Pickering & Chatto, 2004). He has also edited Lives of the Great Romantics by Their Contemporaries: Shelley, Byron, and Wordsworth (Pickering & Chatto, 1996) and Eighteenth-Century Popular Culture: A Selection (Oxford University Press, 2000).
Richard North has edited two Old Norse Skaldic poems: The ‘Haustlöng’ of Þjóðólfr of Hvinir (London: Hisarlik Press, 1997), and Úlfr’s Húsdrápa’, featured with commentary in Image, Word, Text: Studies in Anglo-Saxon Literature and its Insular Context, ed. Minnis and Roberts (Turnhout, 2006). He has also edited poems and prose included in The Longman Anthology of Old English, Old Icelandic and Anglo-Norman Literatures (London: Pearson, 2011). He is currently working on an edition of Andreas, a 1722-line English poem on St Andrew, probably dating from around 900 AD.
Matthew Beaumont’s edition of Walter Pater’s Studies in the History of The Renaissance (OUP, 2010) reproduces the first edition of 1873 and recaptures the impact made by the book on its first appearance.