Friends appeal: “this one is astonishing!”

Workes, an annotated edition of the writings by Ben Jonson, is at risk of being exported from the UK unless Edinburgh University Library can match the asking price of £48,000.

Ben Jonson (1572-1637) is arguably the most important writer of the English Renaissance after Shakespeare. This extraordinarily rare volume is the only known example of a document showing how a play by Ben Jonson was actually prepared for performance. Material that tells us about the performance of pre-Restoration plays is extremely scarce. This volume occupies a unique place among surviving materials because of the nature and range of its annotations  – including stage directions, details of props, and textual corrections – which collectively do not fall into any category previously known to scholars of seventeenth-century theatre. The volume is therefore of outstanding interest to the study of British theatrical history.

Here is a letter from the Library, endorsed by the Friends’ Committee.  It is an appeal to support this exciting and unique purchase.  We are sure that each of you will be interested in the opportunity that has been presented to the Library.  The Friends Committee has pledged to support this purchase and it is hoped that individual Friends might do the same.

This appeal was successful and is now closed. Thank you to all who contributed. Please see the most recent blog post for further details.


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