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Donne, By Hand

Chatterton Lecture on Poetry, delivered by Dr Tom Lockwood, on 19 October 2009 (venue: The British Academy), as part of the British Academy's 2009 Literature Week.

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‘Why not do Donne – an edition and Life – for the Clarendon Press?’ With this letter of 1906 from W.A. Raleigh, newly installed in the new chair in English Literature at Oxford, to H.J.C. Grierson, the first Professor of English at Aberdeen, began a new phase in the afterlife of John Donne’s poetry. The edition that Grierson produced, The Poems of John Donne (1912), decisively reshaped Donne as a manuscript poet for the twentieth century; and this lecture explores the later lives of Donne’s poetry through the making and the influence of Grierson’s edition, itself vitally part of a manuscript culture. Many early readers – like Ben Jonson – feared that ‘Donne himself, for not being understood, would perish’; this lecture argues instead that subsequent understandings of Donne and his works, in manuscript and print, and by different audiences, are necessary elements of the poet we read today.

About the lecturer
Dr Tom Lockwood has been a Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Birmingham since 2005, and before that held a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship. His research recovers in manuscript the texts and contexts of early modern literary writing, and places early modern writers in the larger context of their reception by subsequent readers. He is the author of Ben Jonson in the Romantic Age (2005) and was the winner, in 2003, of The Review of English Studies Essay Prize; his current projects include a book, Shakespeare and His Text.

Commentator: Dr Peter Beal FBA
Dr Peter Beal FBA FSA was formerly English Manuscript Expert and a Director at Sotheby’s, London. He is currently Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of English Studies, University of London, where he is compiling an online database (CELM) expanding his published Index of English Literary Manuscripts 1450-1700 (4 vols, 1980-93). His various books and articles include the series English Manuscript Studies co-founded and coedited by him.

More about the Chatterton Lectures on Poetry

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