What Planet is This?

09 Jul 2005

Yf Thoffendor Moorne

A while ago, I decided that I ought to try to publish some materials about Shakespeare that don't otherwise appear in high quality online. One of those materials is the Peacham Manuscript, which is a drawing and transcription of a performance of Titus Andronicus by Henry Peacham that's been dated as being from 1594, though how this was derived from the Latin chronogram mo qo q qto is a bit hard to tell.

So I scanned in a copy of the Peacham Manuscript, but the source that I got it from attributed their permissions to the Marquess of Bath. I emailed the archivist at Longleat House, the seat of the Marquess of Bath, but I was informed that they don't give permission for any of their materials to be published on the web. This is a shame, and slightly odd given that if I were to go to Longleat and make a copy of the manuscript myself, I could turn it over to the public domain if I wanted since the original document is well out of copyright. I may write to the Marquess of Bath and ask him directly, since he seems like a very nice guy and rather extraordinary character.

Another document that I got was a copy of one of the pages of Harley MS 7368, which is the only surviving copy of the play Sir Thomas More. This play is significant because the handwriting of one of the people who revised the play is thought to be quite likely to belong to Shakespeare, and is therefore the only trace that we have of his own writing apart from a handful of signatures. The representation of the Harley MS that I got belongs, as far as I know, to the British Library, so I rang them up and asked how much it would cost to reproduce it online. They replied that it's £50 for a ten year license. When I remarked that it sounded a little steep, the person at the permissions deparment said that well, when you think about it, it's only £5 per year! Nevertheless, I decided not to purchase it.

My own source for the image was actually online, at an American college which I'll neglect to mention the name of here. I contacted the maintainer of the image asking (very tactfully, I might add) where he acquired it from and what the status of the reproduction rights were, but I didn't get any response, so I presume that said maintainer was too busy to answer so trifling an enquiry.

Again, the original of the Harley MS is very much public domain, but it's the representations that hold the copyright so there's not much I can do about it unless I can either get a representation of it myself or find someone that's willing to license one out under less than ridiculous conditions.

Cite: Palmer, S.B. (2005). "Yf Thoffendor Moorne", in: What Planet is This?
Archival URI: http://inamidst.com/notes/thoffendor


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