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Quartos.org - Shakespeare's quartos online for review and comparison

The earliest Shakespeare quartos are over four hundred years old and constitute the rarest, most fragile body of printed literature available to Shakespeare scholars. Sold unbound and often read to pieces, they are among the most ephemeral books of the age and survive in relatively low numbers. In the absence of surviving manuscripts, the quartos offer the earliest known evidence of what Shakespeare might actually have written, and what appeared on the early modern English stage. Only about half of Shakespeare’s plays were printed in quarto during his lifetime (1564–1616), and before the first printed collection of his plays, the First Folio of 1623. They are living artifacts telling the story of how Shakespeare's Hamlet, Henry V, King Lear, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Romeo and Juliet, to name just a few, first circulated in print.... Due to their rarity and fragility, the earliest quartos are often not accessible to those who need to study them. Today, six institutions in the United Kingdom and United States stand out as the main repositories of the pre-1642 quartos.... Through this international collaboration, many of the earliest Shakespeare quartos are now freely available for in-depth study to students of Shakespeare across the globe. You can read, compare, read annotations and overlay copies at Quartos.org.
posted by filthy light thief on Apr 12, 2014 - 20 comments

Around the Beatles: a one-off TV variety show from 1964

In 1964, The Beatles put together a one-off variety show, with musical numbers specially pre-recorded for the show, presented in the style of theater-in-the-round. Around the Beatles was aired in the UK and later that same year in the US, but never commercially released. The show includes The Beatles performing a scene from A Midsummer's Night Dream, with Paul McCartney as Pyramus, John Lennon as his lover Thisbe, George Harrison as Moonshine, Starr as Lion, and Trevor Peacock (the only actual actor in the lot) in the role of Quince. A color clip of that was posted previously, but you can watch the entire (almost) hour-long show with The Beatles' segments accompanied by seven other musical acts, on Dailymotion or YouTube, though it's in black and white. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Apr 18, 2013 - 14 comments

The forgotten gentleman lawer turned privateer who founded Jamestown

In 1602, he became the first Englishman to sail directly to New England across the ill-charted waters of the North Atlantic (Google books; alt: Archive.org). He is credited with setting up a fort on Cuttyhunk Island, and naming both Martha's Vineyard and Cape Cod in that voyage. A few months later, he then returned to England, where he planned the first English settlement to take hold in the new world. He returned in 1607, but only survived 13 weeks in Jamestown (Gb). Who was this founding father of the first English colony take hold in North America? Bartholomew Gosnold. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Dec 7, 2011 - 12 comments

With four and twenty black-and-white birds, here's the history of the pie

NPR's food blog gets wordy: for the origins of "pie," look to the humble magpie. Though the etymology of pie doesn't present one clear path, the possibilities are fascinating. English surnames point to pie and pye as a baked good in the 1300s, with a Peter Piebakere in 1320 and Adam le Piemakere in 1332. Chaucer referred to "pye" as both a baked good and a magpie (Google books). Or perhaps the fillings were like a magpie's collection of bits and bobs, similar to haggis. You know, like the French "agace," or magpie (Gb), and similar to chewets, those baked goods, or another name for jackdaws (Gb), relative of the magpie. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Nov 22, 2011 - 21 comments

Would Hamlet be better if it had a happy ending?

This past July marked the 253rd birthday of Thomas Bowdler, English physician and source of the eponym bowdlerise (or bowdlerize), through his family-friendly editing of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (prev), which was written originally by English historian Edward Gibbon. Though Thomas' name is on the later editions of The Family Shakespeare, it was his sister, Henrietta Maria Bowdler (commonly called Harriet), who actually excised the texts and removed about 10% of the original text that which she felt "cannot with propriety be read aloud in family." Some sample comparisons of the edits can be seen here. With that, Henrietta (and Thomas) earned a place in the ranks of Shakespeare editors (prev-ish). [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Aug 8, 2011 - 21 comments

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