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julia999's avatar

Were the final copies of Shakespeare's plays written by hand?

Asked by julia999 (338 points ) December 20th, 2009

That is, after Shakespeare handed them in, they would have been rewritten and stored.

Here’s a pic:
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/ab/FirstFolioMuchAdo.jpg

Were they handwritten by scribes? The inconsistencies appear only slight, it seems almost impossible.

And if they were handwritten, would it have taken a person very long to do so?

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9 Answers

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I hope to hell we’re not going to debate again whether they could have been typed by monkeys…

The reference photo shows printed text. That is, mechanically printed, on a press.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

My first question is what do you mean by “final copies”?

If you mean those copies used by the actors, the answer is that we have no way of knowing since none of those have survived.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@hawaii_jake, the actors, or the scripts?

:)

PandoraBoxx's avatar

It would be difficult for Shakespeare to “hand in” copies of his plays for First Folio publication; they were collected and published seven years after his death.

Jeruba's avatar

At the link cited by @PandoraBoxx:

“Printed in folio format and containing 36 plays (see list of Shakespeare’s plays), it was prepared by Shakespeare’s colleagues John Heminges and Henry Condell and published in 1623, about seven years after Shakespeare’s death.”

By that time the printing press had been around for not quite 200 years.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@Jeruba, perhaps we should cross-link this to an ongoing fluther thread regarding mechanical printing with movable type… right here

Jeruba's avatar

There’s some overlap, @CyanoticWasp, but I think the point here is that manuscripts were not hand-copied by scribes in Shakespeare’s time. Books were printed on a press with movable type.

julia999's avatar

@Jeruba Your answers were exactly what I was trying to ask, thanks!

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