Foul papers


Foul papers

Foul papers is a term that refers to an author's working drafts, most often applied in the study of the plays of Shakespeare and other dramatists of English Renaissance drama. Once the composition of a play was finished, a transcript or "fair copy" of the foul papers was prepared, by the author or by a scribe.

Few sets of foul papers actually exist from the era in question. Of the relatively small number of dramas that are extant in manuscript, [E. K. Chambers provides an extensive (though not exhaustive) list of fifty plays and masques in manuscript or manuscript fragments; Chambers, Vol. 4, pp. 404-6.] the majority are from the Caroline era rather than the Jacobean or Elizabethan, and most are fair copies of plays by professional scribes like Ralph Crane. [See: "A Game at Chess;" "Sir John van Olden Barnavelt."] In a rare direct reference to foul papers and fair copies, Robert Daborne mentions both in a November 1613 letter to theatrical manager Philip Henslowe: "I send you the foul sheet and the fair I was writing" [Spelling, punctuation modernized; Chambers, Vol. 3, p. 194; Halliday, p. 174.] — which appears to indicate that Daborne prepared a fair copy of his working drafts as he wrote.

The best example of a set of foul papers from Shakespeare's era is the manuscript of "Sir Thomas More."

Notes

ources

* Chambers, E. K. "The Elizabethan Stage." 4 Volumes, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1923.
* Halliday, F. E. "A Shakespeare Companion 1564–1964." Baltimore, Penguin, 1964.

External links

* [http://www.william-shakespeare.org.uk/shakespeare-quarto-text.htm One reference]


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