Future of Editing – Editing a prolific author

Joanne Shattock talking on Margaret Oliphant (Gutenberg books). at the Future of Editing seminar series. Notes are unedited.

MO => literary historian, novel and critic.

Undertaken with Elizabeth Jay. What is the basis of selection? Are excerpts legitimate for large collections of work? MO was a professional woman of letters, attained status as a writer. Prolific output. Still in print in some form.

“Elisium of a popular edition” – denied her by her publishers. Collected editions were part of publishing game for popular nineteenth century novels.

Nearly all of her journalism has been identified, despite anonymity. Bibliographies are not hard to find.

Is there a case for a modern edition in conventional format? Digital not entertained due to publishers not having platform. The various bits of journalism. Blackwood’s articles average 10000 words each. Format limits space – criteria must be applied. Perpetuating an unofficial canon through selection and reinforcing a view of work? Achieving balance of known and unknown work and its high standard.

Literary histories – best known Annals of Publishing House of Blackwoods, her publishers. Represented by excerpts.

Pickering & Chatto have a standard format for publishing. All of the big projects are for libraries. Project played to strengths of editors and publishers – playing to strengths of each.

Edition included omitted material – correcting early editorial bias and omissions.

Scholarly critical edition of the texts. Each volume editor has compared first editions and the first cheap edition. Has shown extensive revisions before publication as book. Only texts of the criticism are the original text.

Firm had copies of outgoing letters and to each others and about her. Notes have allowed string notes to be made across texts.

Burns and Scott become high water mark for poetry and literature. Some repetition of editorial notes across texts. Limitation of the book format. Evolving editorial notes on online process for Ben Jonson’s editions. Conventional publication leads to duplication due to stand-alone volumes.

“And now here I am all alone. I cannot write any more”.

Trying to gain an understanding of her reading, which was phenomenal. Good at research. Proficient mediator of material. Early 1860s, reviewed FW Robinson (Blackwood’s author) which influenced the Carlingford novels, or Wilkie Collins. Case study in author / publisher connections.

With more time, more subtle connections come in? Digital allows for expansion but could it cope with the volume of writing?

Question does the standard model of digital publication hold up to large collections? Is a new method/model needed?

Annotations – brief or excessive? Editors should try harder to provide information or important links. Shows the editor knows the subject and provide helpful links, rather than just provide resources / data.