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From the first months following its appearance in bookshops around St Paul's Churchyard in the late fall of 1616, The Workes of Beniamin Jonson attracted a vigorous critical response. Other literary collections containing plays written for the private and public stages had preceded it: nine assortments of plays and poems by Samuel Daniel were published between 1594 and 1611; The Monarchic Tragedies, a quartet of closet dramas by Sir William Alexander, Earl of Stirling, appeared in a 1604 quarto and 1616 octavo edition; the three quarto printings of George Gascoigne’s work included a comedy, a tragedy, and a masque. However, the scope of the Jonson collection as well as its use of the word ‘Workes’ in the title set the folio apart from earlier volumes, and almost immediately after it was issued, voices of criticism and praise began to appear in print: the preacher (and later Dean of Canterbury) John Boys sniffed, ‘yea, the very plays of a modern poet, are called in print his works’ (1617, sig. I1v), while the satirist Henry Fitzjeffrey decried all the ‘Books, made of ballads: Works, of Plays’ (1617, sig. A8). After Jonson’s death (but before the second volume of his works was completed), the folio also became a memorial to the poet himself, a tomb he constructed:
… none so fit appears
To raise his tomb, as who are left his heirs:
Yet for the cause no labour need be spent,
Writing his Works, he built his Monument.
The conceit of a bricklayer’s son building a monument from words reappeared half a century later when Gerard Langbaine commented that Dryden sought ‘to demolish the statues and monuments of his ancestors, the works of those his illustrious predecessors, Shakespeare, Fletcher, and Jonson’ (Bradley & Adams, 1922 426).
In the eighteenth century, the editorial work Jonson carried out before and during the printing of his Workes slowly became a topic of serious discussion. Early editors of Jonson recognized that F1 showed signs of Jonson’s hand. Peter Whalley prefaces his 1756 Works of Ben. Jonson with the observation that the folio was printed ‘under [Jonson’s] own inspection, so that we have an authentic copy for our pattern, and which we have found of great use in correcting the mistakes of subsequent editions’ (H&S, 9.139). In William Gifford’s ‘Memoirs of Ben Jonson’ that accompanies his 1816 collected Works of Ben Jonson, he writes that in 1616 Jonson ‘seemed to have meditated a complete edition of all his works; but he apparently grew weary towards the conclusion of the volume and never (unless peculiarly called upon) had recourse to the press afterwards’ (Gifford, 1.xcii-xciii). Gifford’s notes to the text indicate that he at least collated F1 against extant quartos, and his sense of Jonson’s declining involvement may have come from this as well as from Whalley’s preface. By the beginning of the twentieth century it had become a commonplace that Jonson personally oversaw the printing of F1. Even a cursory examination of the Q1 and F1 texts of Every Man In His Humour reveals the significant amount of editorial work Jonson carried out in preparation for the play’s publication in folio, and the other plays all show similar, though less radical, signs of authorial revision. One can readily understand how earlier critics might have interpreted the modification of individual plays as proof of Jonson’s oversight of F1 as a whole.
The groundwork for a sustained debate of Jonson’s editorial involvement in the texts of F1 was first laid down at the turn of the twentieth century when a group of textual scholars centered at the University of Louvain and led by Willi Bang began issuing type-facsimile editions of early modern English drama based for the most part on their first quarto versions (notable exceptions include Bang’s edition of the first half of F1 in 1905). This group also began producing essays that called into question earlier claims of the folio’s editorial value. In 1903, B. A .P. van Dam and C. Stoffel published an article examining the textual differences in the final scenes of the Q1 and F1 Every Man Out of His Humour and asking ‘whether the proofs of [the] 1616 edition can have been submitted to Ben Jonson for revision’ (van Dam & Stoffel, 384). They concluded they were not, and that instead ‘the editor or the printer of the Folio edition, who was undoubtedly ignorant of Greek’, made the changes (387). This idea was restated and expanded in the 1930s in the introductions to a series of Jonson plays edited not from F1 but from the earlier quartos, and published by Henry de Vocht. None of the arguments put forward by these parties found much sympathy among Jonson scholars, based as they were on densely argued comparisons between quarto and folio readings and sprinkled occasionally with denigrations of the printer William Stansby’s skill.
While the Louvain group pursued their defence of the quartos, Anglo-American scholars focused on Jonson's involvement in his Workes. W. W. Greg, in a discussion of changes to stage directions in the Shakespeare folio, cited similar alterations in F1, a 'volume that in all likelihood produced under the direct superintendence of the author'. To this observation he appends a further note: ‘I am aware that Professor van Dam has sought to show that this is not the case – not, I think, so far with any great success’ (Greg, 1903, 284). In a postscript to a larger study of Shakespearean versification published in 1920, M. A. Bayfield paused to examine possible influences on F1. He begins by recounting a personal statement made to him by Percy Simpson that the folio ‘is one of the most carefully corrected and correctly printed books of its time’, mainly because ‘Jonson himself corrected the proofs’. After looking through the volume, Bayfield concurs with Simpson, mentioning in particular ‘the accuracy of the printing and punctuation’ (Bayfield, 1920, 295). Simpson sums up the efforts to defend Jonson, F1, and Stansby in an appendix to the discussion of the folio in Ben Jonson:
A casual reader might find Dr. de Vocht’s vast accumulation of evidence plausible; a critical sifting soon shows its weakness. This it has been our unpleasant task to supply, and we gladly take leave of one of the most futile efforts ever made to discredit the authority of a great classic text (H&S, 9.84).
As editors debated choices of copy-text based on textual differences, librarians and bibliographers began systematically collecting and organizing evidence drawn from their examinations of the folio's material make-up. In a small but well-received 1932 pamphlet, the bookseller H. L. Ford presented the first quasi-facsimile transcriptions of F1's main and individual title-pages, a statement of format, signing, and pagination, including a list of pagination errors. He also indentified three classes of data crucial to an understanding of the folio's production: the numerous stop-press corrections, the reimposed or reset formes, and the large variety of paper stocks upon which the volume was printed. In 1940, William A. Jackson published his catalogue of the Pforzheimer Library, including a well-conceived description of F1, discussions of title-page variants, a brief textual comparison of the two settings of gathering 2Y, and an examination of the regular- and large-paper copies (Jackson, 1940, 2.572-75). This last feature has figured prominently in later bibliographical studies of the Workes. Authors with important patronage connections would sometimes pay to have a limited number of large-paper copies printed as potential gifts to their benefactors or friends (see the full list of surviving inscribed copies of F1 compiled by Henry Woudhuysen in the Electronic Edition database of Jonson’s library). Scholars had assumed the large-paper sheets of each forme would be printed last to ensure each page bore the most-corrected state of the text, but analyses of re-used skeleton formes by Johann Gerritsen (1959) and Kevin Donovan (1987) (see below) have rebutted this assumption.
Slightly overlapping Jackson’s Pforzheimer catalogue, but of much greater depth and insight, was W. W. Greg’s A Bibliography of the English Printed Drama to the Restoration (its four volumes were published in 1939, 1951, 1957, and 1959 respectively). Drawing on decades of his own groundbreaking work in the field of early printed books, Greg's examination of pre-1660 dramatic publications in general and F1 specifically raised the careful investigation and analysis of material evidence to important new levels of sophistication. Although his description of F1 comprises slightly less than three pages, it distills in concise form the crucial features of the volume identified by earlier bibliographers while adding fresh insights.
Greg's description and analysis of F1 was aided by the publication in 1950 of Vol. 9 of Ben Jonson, edited by C. H. Herford and Percy and Evelyn Simpson (see e.g. Greg, 1939-59, 3.1072). This landmark scholarly edition is covered in greater detail by Martin Butler in his textual essay in the present database. Its appearance is important to the history of scholarship on the texts of F1 because it catalyzed a shift in focus away from compiling catalogues and bibliographies and toward sustained scholarly scrutiny carried out in journals and monographs. Vol. 9 of H&S is remarkable for a number of reasons, in particular the inclusion of the first full-scale presentation of textual variants found in F1 due to stop-press correction or resetting. Although incomplete because of the extremely time-consuming nature of textual collation and limited number of copies examined by the editors (11 folios plus data extracted from earlier editions by W. Bang and A. C. Judson), the list of roughly 1500 changes made during printing and proofing gave bibliographers a new and valuable dataset with which to scrutinize F1's production. The extensive list of textual variants in Vol. 9 also underscores the larger editorial decision to ‘regard the 1616 Folio as the final authority for all the works it contains’ (H&S, 9.xiii), a decision that subsequent scholars found problematic.
The initial significant reaction to H&S came in the form of two brief but shrewd and extremely important pieces written by Johan Gerritsen and published in English Studies in the late 1950s. The first appeared as a review of Vols. 9-11, where Gerritsen observes that the last volume of H&S to containing plays and masques was issued in 1941, the last with poems and prose in 1947. Since then, ‘We have seen . . . much refinement in the methods available to an editor’ (Greg's groundbreaking ‘The Rationale of Copy-Text’ was published in 1951), and perhaps ‘It might therefore be worthwhile to examine the editors’ treatment of their text in the light of modern theory’ (Gerritsen, 1957, 121). He argues that proof of Jonson’s hand in textual corrections requires more than acknowledgement of differences between the quarto copy-texts and what appears in F1. Many hands contributed to the folio’s production, and ‘by neglecting to distinguish between the author’s corrections and the compositor’s expedients when translating it into type, [the editors] have preferred Stansby to Jonson’ (122). He also criticizes the all-too-brief printing history of F1 in Vol. 9, a lack he begins to address two years later in ‘Stansby and Jonson Produce a Folio: A Preliminary Account’. Based primarily on evidence of recurring headlines, he lays out a brief narrative of the folio’s production: that printing began with gathering G; that gatherings A-F were printed later in the sequence, and then at two distinctly different points; that Stansby printed the large-paper setting of gathering 2Y first, rather than the regular-paper sheets as assumed in H&S; and that what may have been a miscalculation in the number of printed copies of the final quires or perhaps the arrival of more pressing business led to a situation in which ‘all the undistributed type of these quires was collected, the missing portions were reset, and further copies printed to make up the numbers’ (Gerritsen, 1959, 55).
In the decades that followed, a number of essays attempted to work through the textual challenges posed by F1, its multiple primary sources, and the puzzle of its printing. At the same time there emerged a growing consensus that H&S bore numerous flaws calling its reliability into question. T. H. Howard-Hill assessed the basis for a new concordance of Jonson's works by asking, ‘is Herford and Simpson a definitive edition, or does it otherwise possess an authority amongst scholars that would justify is selection as the base text for a concordance’ (Howard-Hill, 1972, 21). He answered in the negative, a position underscored by Fredson Bowers six years later as part of a re-assessment of Greg’s ‘Rationale of Copy-Text’. Offering the examples of the complex mixed revision and correction in Every Man In His Humour and Sejanus as evidence that press variants alone failed to a provide sufficient basis for editorial decisions, Bowers pointed to a more revealing class of evidence: orthography. ‘Jonson did nothing in the press-corrections about the Folio departures from his ordinary spellings (and these were fairly numerous)’, which argues for using spelling preferences as ‘the main determinant’ in the choice of copy-text. He concludes that the earlier quarto editions make much better sources than F1, and that the ‘Herford-Simpson Jonson was ostensibly an edition of the works which by a mistaken choice of copy-text for many parts turned into an edition of the Folio’ (Bowers, 1978, 11-14).
In the 1980s and ’90s, investigations into the forces that shaped the texts found in the 1616 folio moved away from editorial questions of copy-text, turning instead to an examination of Stansby’s career and the workings of the printing house he operated. Kevin Bracken contributed a survey of Stansby’s biography and his printing projects during the second decade of the seventeenth century (see Bracken, 1988), while Kevin Donovan picked up a line of inquiry initiated by Gerritsen thirty years earlier. Testing and expanding on Gerritsen’s appraisal of re-used skeleton formes, Donovan charted the individual headlines as they occur throughout F1, establishing that Stansby frequently juggled his production schedule, identifying the places where printing was interrupted and out of order sheets machined, and detailing how the extremely complicated printing of the final quires proceeded. He also uncovered evidence that reveals instances of concurrent printing in the Stansby house by showing that damaged rules used toward the end of F1 also occur in the latter part of Aaron Rathborne’s treatise The Surveyor (1616; STC 20748). Since Rathborne includes a preface dated 6 November 1616 (typically the preliminaries are the last section printed), strong evidence exists that ‘late November or early December seems a likely date for completion of the Jonson 1616 Folio’ (Donovan, 1987, 183-84) – although subsequent additional information (discussed below) indicates the middle of November as the likely completion date. Complementing these efforts, James Riddell offered a series of shorter pieces looking at the evidence for establishing the order of F1’s three main title-pages, the printing of the plays, and the convoluted circumstances of the folio’s final pages (see Riddell, 1986, 1994, 1996b, 1997b).
Two efforts have so far appeared that attempt to relate a more detailed reconstruction of F1's printing. Mark Bland takes a sociological approach, combining documentary research into copyrights and financing, an extensive analysis of Jonson's literary approaches and network of friends and mentors, and an examination of Stansby's printing-house practices derived from a survey of his larger output (Bland, 1998b). Addressing F1 from a physical bibliography perspective, David Gants marshals evidence derived from composition and imposition habits, use of paper stocks, patterns of press correction, and concurrent printing, to illuminate the workings of Stansby’s establishment (Gants, 1999). The following reconstruction of the printing of F1's texts draws upon the work of Jonson scholars mentioned above as well as further evidence compiled by the author.
Bibliographically, the structure and contents of F1 are organized as follows:
Collation: 2o: ¶6 A-4P6 4Q4 [$3 signed; missigning 3E3 as ‘2E3’, 3L3 as ‘3K3’ (State 1 only)]; 514 ll., pp.  [1-2] 3-1015  (misprinting 6 as 4, 7 as 5, 8 as 6, 34 as 43, 75 as [omit] (States 1-4) or 81 (State 5), 176 as [omit], 713 as 317; in uncorrected states of formes, 5 as 3, 144 as 1.4, 656 as 665, 666 as 652, 667 as 657, 684 as 682, 999 as 99 (State 1) or 9999 (State 2)).
Contents: Preliminaries, ¶1-¶6v; Every Man In His Humour, A1-F6v; Every Man Out of His Humour, G1-P4v; Cynthia’s Revels, P5-Z3v; Poetaster, Z4-2G3v; Sejanus, 2G4-2O3v; Volpone, 2O4-2X4v; Epicoene, 2X5-3D6v; The Alchemist, 3E1-3L3v; Catiline, 3L4-3S4v; Epigrams, 3S5-3Z1v; The Forest, 3Z2-4A6v; Entertainments, 4B1-4F1v; Masques, 4F2-4Q4.
Main Title-Page [plate 251 x 162, image 248 x 161; signed 'G. Hole']: THE | WORKES | OF | Beniamin Jonson | [rule] | neque, me vt miretur turba, | laboro: | Contentus paucis lectoribus.
(a) Imprinted at | London by | Will Stansby | An o D. 1616.
(b) London | printed by W: | Stansby, and are | to be ſould by | Rich: Meighen. | An o D. 1616.
(c) LONDON | Printed by William | Stanſby. | An o D. 1616.
For most of his career, William Stansby operated as what R. B. McKerrow termed a ‘trade printer’, i.e. someone who contracted printing jobs financed by others. Because such jobs typically involved small profit margins, trade printers often worked on many more projects concurrently than did those McKerrow called ‘printer-publishers’, who engaged in fewer projects but saw greater returns on investment. In the mid-1610s, trade printers like Stansby and Thomas Snodham ran among the most productive houses in London, while printer-publishers like William and Isaac Jaggard ranked near the bottom of output totals. Only businesses that held lucrative patents like the King’s Printing Office or Adam Islip were more productive than the trade printers.
High productivity requires competent management as well as a large and diverse stock of type. During the period when F1 was at press, a brief examination of how Stansby deployed his resources shows his capacity to distribute work across a number of different founts of type:
|Edition||Brevier||Long Primer||Pica||English||Great Primer|
Fig. 1: Stansby Output 1615-1617
[Although F1 was published in late 1616, Stansby’s 1617 output is included because many of the larger projects issued in 1617 were begun in the previous year. The composition totals are expressed in 1000s of ens of type set, or k/ens.]
By way of comparison, in 1616 William Jaggard set a total of 2261 k/ens, mainly pica roman, and Thomas Snodham set 4087 k/ens, using roughly the same amounts of long primer, pica, and english roman type. These composing and machining estimates illustrate how Stansby could work on multiple large volumes simultaneously without running short of type, e.g., William Alexander’s Monarchic Tragedies (STC 345, 547 k/ens brevier roman), The Secrets of Alexis (STC 312.5, 1794 k/ens pica blackletter), Francis Godwin’s De praesulibus Angliae commentarius (STC 11941, 1204 k/ens pica roman), William Martyn’s The History and Lives of Twenty Kings of England (STC 17526, 902 k/ens english roman), Samuel Purchas’ Purchas his Pilgrimage (STC 20507, 3958 k/ens pica roman), Ben Jonson's Workes (STC 14751, 1576 k/ens english roman), Walter Ralegh’s History of the World (STC 20638, 4431 k/ens english roman), Richard Hooker’s Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity (STC 13716, 1070 k/ens english roman), and William Camden’s Annales rerum Anglicarum (STC 4496, 731 k/ens great primer roman). The dozens of smaller projects also in Stansby’s house during this time meant that he could minimize disruptions in daily workflow caused by interruptions in the progress of larger volumes (for example, waiting for proof sheets to return from the author) by filling in the void with smaller works.
Specifically how Stansby fit all the pieces into the ongoing puzzle that was his house’s production schedule largely remains unknown. Some documentary evidence provides us with the occasional landmarks: information such as entry dates in the Stationers’ Register or dated letters from the author to the reader included in a volume’s preliminary leaves (usually the last sheets printed). Even more rare are instances that give us exact dates: William Camden’s diaries record that his Annales went to the printer on 13 February 1615 and was published 8 June of the same year (Camden, ed. Sutton, 2001); Mark Bland has located a presentation copy of Godwin's De Praesulibus given to Camden and dated 23 March 1616 (Bland, 1995, 1.209). For the most part, though, charting in any detail the complex workflow of Stansby’s printing house would at best be a speculative exercise.
Fortunately, we have a better idea of F1’s place in the schedule. On 20 January 1615, Stansby registered with the Stationers most of the texts planned for inclusion in the folio not already under company protection, ‘Certayne Masques at the Court never yet printed written by Ben Johnson’ (Arber, 1875-94, 3.562). While not foolproof, entry in the Stationers’ Register usually signaled that production was close to commencement or had already begun. Twenty-two months to the day later, a York bookseller named John Foster was buried at the church of St. Michael le Belfrey. When the contents of his shop were inventoried on 26 November 1616, among the folio volumes was a copy of ‘Johnson’s Workes . . . x s’ (Davies, 1868, 343; see also Barnard and Bell, 1994). That places the beginning of work on F1 close to the completion of the Camden and Martyn volumes, creating a temporary slow period during the folio's first weeks of printing that will be explored further below, and the printing of its final gatherings around the time the large Purchas and Ralegh projects commence, which also affected the folio's production history.
Comparing the list of stationers holding an interest in the texts of F1 with evidence derived from an examination of the paper stocks used in the folio provides some insight into how the project came together (for further analysis of the paper stocks in F1, see Gants 1998). Walter Burre owned complete or partial rights to seven of the nine plays, John Smethwicke owned Every Man Out of His Humour, Matthew Lownes owned Poetaster, and various parts of the poetry, entertainments and masques were owned by Edward Blount, Richard Bonion, Thomas Thorpe and Henry Walley. In addition, Richard Meighen, who had worked with these stationers before, also invested in the work. Given that financing the project probably included substantial funding from the original copyright holders, and recognizing that paper constituted a significant expense in a book’s production, it would not be surprising if the printer William Stansby arranged part or all of his paper supply individually with the different interested parties. In fact, this is what we see in the printing of the plays. Every Man Out of His Humour, owned by Smethwicke, is printed almost exclusively on one stock of paper, with some remnants appearing in the final quires. This selection of paper changes abruptly to a second stock with the commencement of printing on Cynthia's Revels, owned by Burre. One gathering into Poetaster, owned by Lownes, the type of paper used switches again, this time to a mixture of a third and fourth stock. Finally, with the printing of Sejanus and the remaining plays, all owned by Burre, the sheets are again from the second stock, Burre’s stock, a type that continues with only a few interruptions through Volpone, Epicene, and parts of The Alchemist and Catiline. Interestingly, the remainder of the folio (the poems, entertainments and masques) displays another paper-stock distribution arrangement, with the early sections of Epigrams printed on the left-over Burre stock, the section from the middle of Epigrams through Hymenaei printed primarily on a new mixture of stocks, and then The Haddington Masque through to the end on paper from two previously used stocks. The pattern of paper use in the masques and entertainments indicates that Stansby, who registered for himself the remainder of the unpublished court masques just before beginning production on the folio, also had a minor hand in financing the book’s final quires.
Going back to at least Whalley, students of Jonson have commented on the numerous corrections and emendations made to the texts of F1 while it was at press. Current editorial consensus holds that Jonson had some involvement in the changes found in the first four or five plays in the collection, but after that his influence wanes. The main reason for such a view rests with the distribution of all press variants across the folio’s 1028 pages; graphing the distribution onto a histogram produces a one-tailed bell curve, i.e., a large number appear at the beginning, but their frequency slopes down the farther one progresses. Typically, proof correction in a Jacobean printing house consisted of three stages: 1) a check for errors introduced by the compositor such as wrong font, inverted letters, or transpositions ( Moxon, 247-50); 2) corrections made by the author, either at his or her residence or at the printing house (see esp. P. Simpson, 1935, 1-41); 3) a final scan to ensure the main text and notes are aligned, the headlines and direction lines are correct, and to fix any other imperfections that might mar the page. Anyone taking even a cursory glance at an early modern codex will quickly conclude these stages were often more honored in the breach, especially if the printing house was experiencing a slow period of activity. When an establishment was busy, production of one volume could be halted to allow for author’s proofs, and the slack taken up by another. However, when business slowed, pressure to commence printing while proofs were still with the author increased to avoid equipment and workers standing idle. Should the proofs come back requiring changes, the press would be stopped, corrections made, and printing restarted. Earlier uncorrected sheets would not be discarded but rather used to make up the finished book, resulting in a mixture of early and late textual states from which editors derive their lists of press variants.
As noted above, Stansby appears to have begun work on F1 just as business in his house began to slow with the completion of the large Camden and Martyn volumes. Consequently, he may have felt compelled to move ahead with the folio even as Jonson made extensive revisions to Every Man In His Humour (which, along with a possible dispute with Walter Burre over rights, resulted in the delay of its printing until the folio was half completed) and demanded multiple corrections during the production of Every Man Out of His Humour and Cynthia’s Revels (the first plays to be printed). The combination of Stansby’s haste and Jonson’s numerous changes produced dozens of sheets in the early section of F1 that exist in several textual states, some with as many as six. However, toward the end of 1615, large projects such as Ralegh’s History and Purchas His Pilgrimage, along with a succession of smaller jobs, gave Stansby the luxury of waiting for Jonson's proof sheets while he worked on other volumes. What earlier scholars characterized as Jonson’s sagging interest in proofreading as production of F1 progressed may merely be a consequence of changing activity levels in the Stansby house.
As is so often the case when attempting to understand how an early-modern book came into being, no one class of evidence suffices. Instead, by combining diverse approaches and datasets as complements, we can begin to weave a more substantial narrative of printing house practices. Thus, employing the information detailed above, along with the important scholarship of Gerritsen and Donovan on recurring headlines and rules, the story of the texts of F1 begins to emerge.
Sometime in January or February 1615, Stansby received the first allotment of paper from Smethwicke and set his staff to work on gathering G of Every Man Out of His Humour. Soon problems arose concerning the size of the print run: either due to a miscalculation on Stansby’s part or new orders from Meighen or Jonson, production numbers increased by about 25%. When the decision to increase the run was made, 13 formes of type had already been printed and redistributed: G1:6 and G3:4, as well as G2:5 inner, all of H, and I3:4. Stansby made up the shortage of G1:6 and G2:5 after he completed Every Man Out of His Humour but put off the remaining formes until later. As work continued, paper from the first allocation for the folio began to run low, and Stansby may have begun using stocks from other projects. A resolution to the problem concerning the plays owned by Burre had not yet emerged (see Gants and Lockwood, CWBJ, 1.clxvi-clxvii for a fuller account of the dispute), but when Every Man Out of His Humour was completed, Stansby paused to print the remaining sheets of G before commencing with Cynthia’s Revels; he also began printing on paper from a different source. One of those sources may have been The Royal Law (STC 7472), a nine-sheet quarto by Richard Eburne set in pica roman, registered with the Stationers 22 February 1616, and printed for Thomas Adams. Both Eburne’s quarto and sheets Q3:4 are printed on the same paper stock.
Once Stansby and Burre settled their differences, production of F1 proceeded smoothly through the remainder of Cynthia’s Revels and the whole of Poetaster, Sejanus, and Volpone. At this point, production halted just as Stansby had completed printing the large-paper copies of gathering 2Y, the early pages of Epicene, and begun machining the regular-paper ones, perhaps due to the juggling of the concurrent projects or a rush project. Once resource matters were sorted out, Stansby continued work on Epicene, printing the reset 2Y2:5 between gatherings 3C and 3D, 2Y1:6 during 3D, and 2Y3:4 between gatherings 3E and 3F, and starting work on the first play in the collection, Every Man In His Humour, by printing its initial gathering A between 3D and 3E. Production of The Alchemist, Catiline, and the poems proceeded smoothly, with intermittent pauses during the final quires of Catiline to print gathering D, after 3Q to print the second setting of I3:4, after 3V to print gathering C and parts of B, finishing B and parts of E after gathering 3X, and completing gathering E after 3Z.
With the plays and poems out of the way, Stansby moved to print the final section of F1, the masques. Part of the way into this final section he paused to print gathering F of Every Man In His Humour, thus closing the book on that long-delayed task. Around this time production of Rathborne’s The Surveyor was in full swing, an added stress on Stansby’s type resources that apparently prompted him to switch to an older, battered font of english roman to complete the folio. Evidence that the printing house had its hands full toward the end of 1616 also appears in the final quires of F1, where gatherings 4M-4P were set and partially machined before being set aside while Stansby addressed other pressing projects. The source of the delay likely came from The Surveyor; Donovan has shown that rules from the final gatherings of F1 appear in gatherings N-R of Rathborne’s volume, while rules from Surveyor's gathering S return to F1 in 4Q, the last gathering in the folio. During the interruption in printing the masques, Stansby set aside at least 37 pages of standing type, a tremendous amount of material to leave idle, hinting at the overall depth of his typographic resources. Once the final five gatherings of F1 were finished and printing of The Surveyor completed, the folio preliminaries were machined along with the reset gathering H (although it’s not clear exactly when H was actually printed), the individual gatherings were collected and collated, and the entire project was sent to the booksellers.
Overall, then, a reconstruction of the printing sequence based on bibliographical and contextual evidence would look like this:
G-I [partially printed], K-P, G [second setting], Q [two formes reset], R-S, T [two formes reset], V-2C, 2D [two formes reset], 2E-2L, 2M [two formes reset], 2N-2R, 2S [two formes reset], 2T-2V, 2X [two formes rest twice], 2Y [first setting], 2Z, 3A [two formes reset], 3B-3C, 2Y2:5 [second setting], 3D/2Y1:6 [printed together, second setting of 2Y], A, 3E, 2Y3:4 [second setting], 3F-3K, 3L [one forme reset], 3M-3Q D [during the printing of 3M-3Q], 3R [one forme reset], 3S, 3T [one forme rest], 3V, C, B [partially printed], 3X, B [printing completed], E [partially printed], 3Y-3Z, E [printing completed], 4A-4I, F, 4K-4L, 4M-4P [partially printed], [interruption for Surveyor], 4M-4P [reset/reimposed formes printed], ¶, H (reset and printed at a later date).
As with all bibliographical work, this reconstruction contains a number of evidential uncertainties as well as some unanswered questions. For example, the reset sheet Q3:4 is printed on paper that appears nowhere else in F1 (although as mentioned above, the stock is the same as in Eburne’s quarto). The same holds true for gathering H, the only folio occurrence of a paper stock that was however used in other Stansby projects published in 1617, such as Purchas and Hooker. As for the large number of reset formes (nearly two dozen, excluding G-I, 2Y and 4M-4P), one can only speculate on a variety of possible causes. Gerritsen postulates that the reset sheets (Q3:4, 2M1:6, 2X1:6, 3A:1:6, 3L3:4, and all of 4Q) were composed later, possibly to fill out incomplete copies (Gerritsen, 1959, 55). Nevertheless, the bulk of the sequence is based on a correlation of research by a number of scholars who have looked carefully at all the available data.
The practice in early modern London printing and publishing was to sell books unbound in sheets (or with smaller volumes, simple stab-binding without a case), leaving the individual purchaser to bind it as he or she wished. Jonson probably distributed bound presentation copies to friends and patrons, but upon release in late 1616, the bulk of the F1 run seems to have cost private book buyers in the range of 10 shillings a copy unbound (see above). Years passed, and though Jonson's folio Workes attracted comments of some note, only a handful of collected works by other playwrights appeared in the bookshops. Thomas Middleton’s Honorable Entertainments (STC 17886) was published in octavo in 1621. The Whole Works of Samuel Daniel (STC 6238; the Civil Wars section was a reissue of an early 1609 publication) came out in quarto in 1623, as did the more famous Mr. William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies (STC 22273, in folio). Jonson, still writing plays and masques, evidently had in mind a second volume containing his new efforts, and in 1631 an attempt to print such a collection commenced, although the project collapsed after only three plays had been printed (for a detailed discussion, see John Creaser’s essay on the 1631 folio (F2(2)) in the Electronic Edition). Three more collections were published in the 1630s: Six Court Comedies, by John Lyly in 1632 (STC 17088, in duodecimo), The Works of Mr. John Marston in 1633 (STC 17471, in octavo), and Plays, Masques, Epigrams, Elegies, and Epithalamiums by Thomas Nabbes in 1639 (STC 18337, in quarto). Although format choice offers only a partial indication of an author’s stature (and a book’s potential market), the fact that only the works of Jonson and Shakespeare were printed in folio underscores their respective reputations among potential financiers.
Ben Jonson died in mid-August 1637, toward the end of a long closure of London theatres due to a plague visitation. His passing seemed to spark a renewed interest in publishing his remaining works, culminating in the 1641 folio Works (for a detailed discussion, see Peter Happé’s essay on the 1640-1 folio (F2(3)) in the Electronic Edition). The stationers behind F2(3) apparently felt the renewed interest in Jonson that the book would generate warranted another edition of the first, and a move to reprint F1 was initiated. Stansby was not involved, for in 1636 he sold his printing house (and the rights to the masques he had registered in 1615) to Richard Bishop for £700, and two years later, in September of 1638, he died. Under the direction of the bookseller Andrew Crooke, Bishop began production of the second edition sometime in 1639 (the assignment of Stansby’s interest in F1 to Bishop, along with a long list of other transferred titles, was registered with the Stationers’ Company on 4 March 1639), and the completed folio was issued the next year.
In designing the second edition of F1, Bishop retained the same general layout as the first, although the number of lines per page increased from 47 to 50, which, along with other minor revisions, reduced the total number of sheets from 257 to 227. William Hole’s engraved title-page appeared again with its original imprint burnished and ‘LONDON. | Printed by | Richard Biſhop, | and are to be ſold by | Andrew Crooke, | in S t, Paules, | Church-yard. | Ano D. 1640.’ inserted. One significant change from the first edition was the inclusion of a portrait of Jonson executed by Robert Vaughan, an engraver whose work was first printed in 1622. Greg notes that the portrait was not commissioned for the second edition but rather engraved ‘some fifteen years before’ and sold first by George Humble, then later by William Peake (Greg, 1939-59, 3.1074) An exact date for the portrait’s creation is not possible, but it must have occurred before 1634, the last year in which Humble actively published. (See Karen Hearn’s essay ‘Jonson’s Portraits’ in the Electronic Edition.)
Textually, the second edition of F1 was set from a marked-up copy of the first, retaining whatever mixture of early and late states it contained. The orthography reflects the shift away from the miniscule i/j and u/v conventions that took place in the London book trade during the 1630s, while a number of substantive errors were introduced as the result of erroneous corrections and faulty handling of the Latin and Greek (see H&S, 9.92). As to the question of Jonson's involvement in preparing the second edition, editors and scholars feel it likely but unprovable. Percy Simpson was of the opinion that ‘It would have been characteristic of Jonson to have left a copy of the 1616 Folio marked with his corrections, but there is not a scrap of evidence that he ever did so’ (H&S, 9.91), while Greg noted the text ‘shows evidence of revision by someone familiar with Jonson's method of punctuation, and may contain some posthumous corrections of his own’ (Greg, 1939-59, 3.1074).
Although booksellers would occasionally venture to publish individual plays (e.g. Catiline in 1669 and 1674, and a 1669 reissue of Devil), the 1616/1640 F1, 1631 F2(2), and the 1640/41 F2(3), remained the only collected works of Jonson available for the next 50 years. That some market for Jonson continued to exist can be seen in his sporadic inclusion in booksellers’ advertisements from 1659, 1660, and 1668-70 (Greg, 1939-59,, 3.1082). Two more collected works organized by syndicates of booksellers were published in 1692 and 1716-17 before Whalley’s edition of 1756 signalled the shift to the scholar-editor and the rise of modern editing.