The early printed poetry miscellanies, 1557 - 1621: A digitised edition

The Early Printed Poetry Miscellanies, 1557-1621: A Digitised Edition is a British Academy funded project led by Professor Michelle O'Callaghan, with the assistance of Dr. Alice Eardley, which will create a digital edition of seven Elizabethan poetry anthologies from Tottel's Miscellany to A Poetical Rhapsody.

The Elizabethan miscellanies have long been recognised as central to the development of an English literary tradition. These were popular books: Tottel's Miscellany went through eleven editions between 1557 and 1587, while A Poetical Rhapsody, first printed in 1602, continued to be published into the 1620s. The early anthologies disseminated and popularised lyric forms, such as the sonnet, canonised the 'courtly makers', Sir Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, and provided aspiring poets with a repertoire of poetic forms, themes and motifs. It is with these anthologies that the history of modern English poetry is said to begin. From the sixteenth through to the twentieth century, poetry anthologies played a defining role in the formation of the English literary canon through the processes of selecting verse and preserving the works of particular poets within a collection. Practices of anthologising were shaped through both the commercial development of the book trade and a developing English literary tradition.

The digitised edition will offer the user enhanced access to these texts through a software tool, the 'Commonplacer'. This tool takes its name from the early modern practice of commonplacing, which involves selecting extracts from other texts and compiling these into a personal miscellany or commonplace book. It will enable users to create their own anthologies from the texts provided in the edition and to reflect critically on editorial processes involved.

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Prof. Michelle O'Callaghan
Project Director

Dr Alice Eardley
Research Assistant

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See also

  • Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science
  • Department of History


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