Item 15 - Letter from John Crow to Sir Walter Greg

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Letter from John Crow to Sir Walter Greg


  • 21 x 26 Oct. 1955 (Creation)

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1 single sheet, the top of which has been neatly torn off

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(London?)—Discusses correspondence in the Times Literary Supplement relating to The Shakespeare First Folio and the Yale facsimile of the First Folio.



Dear Greg,

Thank you for your letter. I fear that you will find in Friday’s TLS an answer {1} so curt as to verge on churlishness concerning C.39, k.15 {2}. I strove for brevity in dealing with the oaf Marsh {3} but still covered more space than I intended.

I ran up this afternoon and had a look at the Folio. It was worse than I had at first realised. There are really dozens of foisted-in leaves, too short and rounded at the corners—in all parts of the book, though the Histories are, as one would expect, least interfered with[.] I observed that there were two watermarks apiece for the following ‘conjugate’ leaves—C2, C5; D1, D6; o2, o5; pp2, pp5; rr1, rr6. And there are probably others. I didn’t make a note of ‘conjugates’ with no watermarks.

I was determined not to cite Fredson’s review as evidence of my own lack of anti-Americanism and was glad to learn from R. C. Bald {4} that he had written to TLS to make that point.


I am undergoing simultaneous bombardments from Maxwell and Hugh Macdonald: they really are indefatigable correspondents. I am glad to hear from the latter that you have been being frivolous in Cambridge.

The postcard was written at Ravenna but didn’t get posted till my return.

Yours sincerely,
John Crow


Typed, except the signature and a couple of corrections. The top of the letter has been neatly torn off; it is unclear what is missing. The reference to 28 October as ‘Friday’ rather than ‘tomorrow’ indicates that the letter must have been written before the 27th.

{1} Crow had written to the Times Literary Supplement in response to letters printed in the 21 October issue relating to a lengthy joint review of Greg’s Shakespeare First Folio and the facsimile of the First Folio prepared by Helge Kökeritz for the Yale University Press which had appeared the previous week. In the event only two paragraphs of Crow’s letter were published, in which he drew attention to an error and a mistake in his contribution to Essays and Studies, 1955.

{2} This is the reference-mark of a copy of the First Folio of Shakespeare in the British Library, which Greg had described in his book (p. 45) as ‘magnificent’, but which the TLS reviewer had pointed out was a ‘made-up copy’. Greg, in a letter printed in the 21 October issue, responded that, so far as he was aware, the volume in question contained only one sheet supplied from another copy.

{3} The TLS of 21 October contained a letter from R. C. Marsh defending the Yale facsimile, which had been rather heavily criticised in the previous issue, and accusing the reviewer of anti-Americanism.

{4} The TLS of 28 October contained a letter from R. C. Bald pointing out that the shortcomings of the Yale facsimile had been mentioned by American scholars (one of whom was evidently Fredson Bowers) in Modern Philology and the Shakespeare Quarterly.

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      Formerly inserted in Greg's copy of The Shakespeare First Folio (1955) (Adv. c. 26. 1).

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      This description was created by A. C. Green in 2020.




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