Sunday, 25 August 2019

More Female Spectators

A few years ago I mentioned (here) that "When I set out, without much premeditation, to collect Haywood taxonomically, I had not thought that I would end up with so many 'duplicates'." (My post was prompted by the arrival of my seventh set of the “Second” edition of The Female Spectator (1748).) While this was certainly true of most of Haywood's works—even at the start—there are two items I would have excluded from this blanket statement: the first, octavo, editions of both The Female Spectator and La Belle AssemblĂ©e. Today I am going to talk about the first of these.

I provided the reason I might have wanted duplicates of the first edition(s) of The Female Spectator in my Bibliography of Eliza Haywood (2004), 438:

It ought to be noted that to distinguish the different editions of each Book has proved to be a very difficult task … Since the bookbinder was instructed to ‘cancel [remove] every title except the general one’, few of the surviving sets contain any of the original part-titles. Since first, second and third printings are often so similar as to be almost indistinguishable except from their part-titles, and no ready method exists to identify the edition of books with cancelled [part] titles, only those sets with part-titles intact or with second edition general titles have been identified by cataloguers as containing reprinted Books. No library with these rare survivals has multiple copies of the part-published editions of The Female Spectator and so it has not been possible to compare different editions of each Book.

One of the consequences of the fact that "no single public or private library has approached completeness in gathering together the works of Haywood" (16), was that almost no library had more than a single copy of any of her works. (Spoiler alert: except mine.)

In the case of the first edition(s) of The Female Spectator, only the British Library and the Bodleian have more than a single set, and in both cases the second set is incomplete (i.e., L [94.c.12–15; 629.e.4, -v.1,4] and O [8vo Y 64–66 Jur, -v.4; G. Pamph. 1856 (14), bk.1 only]), and none of the 24 individual "Books" that make up The Female Spectator are reprints in either case.

As a consequence, when I was preparing my Bibliography, I had to compile entries for each Book based on a comparison of the Monash and Melbourne University mixed sets with a microfilm copy of the Harvard set (which has almost all of the part-titles for first edition Books) combined with with a handful of photocopies posted to me by the University of Kansas and the Riverside Library at the University of California (which both have most of the known part-titles for reprinted Books).

I concluded my headnote to The Female Spectator with a warning:

It is quite unlikely that every edition of every Book has been identified [here] and so it is not clear how many Books were reprinted. The fact that no copy is known to have survived with uncancelled part-titles for Books 10–24 and that no differences have been discovered among copies of these later Books in the few copies examined does not prove that no later Books were reprinted. It may be that reprints of the later Books have not survived uncancelled by mere chance and that the absence of any comprehensive Haywood collection has hindered the identification of differences that may exist among widely scattered copies of earlier Books.

Obviously, since "the absence of any comprehensive Haywood collection ha[d] hindered the identification of differences that may exist among widely scattered copies of earlier Books", one of the things I hoped to achieve by collecting Haywood taxonomically, was to improve the entry for the individual Books that make up the first, octavo, editions of The Female Spectator, by collecting multiple copies.

Fifteen years later, as you can see above, I now have four copies of the octavo editions: three complete sets (two of mixed issues; all with part-titles), of the "First" octavo edition, and one odd volume (the first volume only, no part titles) of the second octavo edition.

As a result of my collecting, I now have copies of 27 of the 34 individual Books that I described in 2004, plus four more that I have since identified (Ab.60.0.1A, Ab.60.0.5A, Ab.60.0.11A, Ab.60.0.32A). I also have part-titles for 26 of these 38 entries. Combining my own copies with those I have local access to, there are now only three Books inaccessible to me: Ab.60.0.15, Ab.60.0.17, Ab.60.0.19, all only known to exist in the Riverside Library copy.

It is not clear whether the high price of my latest copy—the “Cornwell House” set, sold at the Martin Orskey sale in June—is a factor of it having come up at a prominent London auction, or the increased interest in Haywood. Although it is contrary to my interest for it to be the latter, it would be nice to think that one of Haywood's most important works was beginning to be more highly valued. If so, my chances of adding any further copies to my collection are very low. This Cornwell House set cost me almost fifteen times as much as either of the two previous sets, an extravagance I couldn't afford to repeat.

However, now that I have four copies of the first volume it is easy to show the advantage of having multiple copies of the same work. Note that, in the photo below, each copy is open to the last page of Book 1, and that the facing page is either the part title for Book 2, or the first page of text for Book 2. There are three editions of Book 1, all of which are illustrated here.

The two copies on the left are identical (Book 1 ends on page 68, both have the same tailpiece). These are both copies of Ab.60.0.1. While both copies of Book 1 on the right end, instead, on page 70, the settings are different from each other (the final line is longer bottom right), and a different tailpiece is used on each. The top one is Ab.60.0.1A, the bottom Ab.60.0.2.

As the above image suggests, it is almost impossible to overstate how valuable to be able to compare multiple copies in this way. Which is why it is so important for serious research libraries to collect authors in depth. Although a number of research libraries have been collecting eighteenth-century women writers with some enthusiasm, they appear to be collecting for breadth, not depth—as is indicated by the fact that it is still the case that there is no institutional library with even two full sets of Haywood's Female Spectator.

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