Groundbreaking Discovery: John Milton's Copy of Shakespeare

10.01.2019 - By Folger Shakespeare Library: Shakespeare Unlimited

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In September, the world of literary scholarship got some big news. It was discovered that a copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio, housed in the Free Library of Philadelphia, once belonged to John Milton, author of Paradise Lost. The First Folio contains what experts now widely believe to be Milton’s notes on Shakespeare, in his own handwriting. Suddenly, we can read what one of the greatest English language poets was thinking as he engaged with Shakespeare’s plays. The connection was made by Cambridge University’s Jason Scott-Warren. Scott-Warren was reading an essay by Penn State’s Claire M.L. Bourne about this copy of the First Folio when the handwriting in the notes started to look familiar. Shortly afterward, Bourne got a direct message from Scott-Warren on Twitter: “Can I run something by you?” We talk to Bourne and Scott-Warren about what this discovery means, how technology (including Twitter) has changed their work, and what’s next. Dr. Claire M. L. Bourne is an assistant professor of English at Penn State University. Dr. Jason Scott-Warren is a College Lecturer and Director of Studies in English at Cambridge University in England. They were interviewed by Barbara Bogaev. From the Shakespeare Unlimited podcast. Published October 1, 2019. © Folger Shakespeare Library. All rights reserved. This podcast episode, “We Shall Jointly Labor,” was produced by Richard Paul. Garland Scott is the associate producer. It was edited by Gail Kern Paster. Ben Lauer is the web producer. We had technical help from Andrew Feliciano and Paul Luke at VoiceTrax West in Studio City, California; Craig Johnson at WPSU public radio in State College, Pennsylvania; and K. J. Thorarinsson at KJ’s Sound Studio in Cambridge, England.

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