Item 1 - Letter from Walter Worrall to R. B. McKerrow

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Letter from Walter Worrall to R. B. McKerrow


  • 7 Oct. 1913 (Creation)

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Dictionary Room, Old Ashmolean, Broad Street, Oxford.—Thanks him for looking for citations of the word ‘spattania’. Refers to the use of u, v, j, and i in Philemon Holland’s translations, and to his forthcoming note on the word ‘backare’.



Dictionary Room | Old Ashmolean | Broad St | Oxford
Oct. 7. 1913

Dear McKerrow,

Many thanks for your second letter, dated 25 Sept., which I must really send you a line now to acknowledge.

The ‘Spartania’ in Textor’s Officina {1} may very well be the original & correct form of Greene’s ‘Spattania’. {2} But if no account of the plant so called is given, one can be certain of nothing. We are very much obliged to you for your search, although this time it has drawn blank.—Are any Italian books included in those you consult? After French & Latin, this is, I suppose, the next language likely to have afforded material to an Elizabethan.

As to Holland, the modern use of u, v, j & i is followed in his ‘Livy’, 1600. {3} I had a note to this effect, which I have just been verifying in the Bodleian. Whether it is followed through-out the volume consistently, I don’t pretend to say.—I have also an old note, which I have not verified, that in his ‘Camden’ 1610, {4} both the old & the modern practices are followed.

In the forthcoming number of the Mod. Lang. Review there are some observations of mine, called forth by a note on ‘Backare’ in the July number. {5}

Please accept my hearty thanks for the kind expressions of sympathy in your letter, & believe me

very sincerely yours
Walter Worrall


This letter was written on black-edged paper, in token of the death of the writer’s father, the artist Joseph Edward Worrall, who had died on 7 September. It was formerly inserted in an off-print of McKerrow’s article ‘Some Notes on the Letters i, j, u and v in Sixteenth Century Printing’, reprinted from The Library, 3rd series, i. 239–59 (July 1910) (Adv. c. 25. 80). At the foot of p. 21 of this offprint (corresponding to p. 251 in The Library) McKerrow has written the following note, derived from the present letter: ‘The modern usage is also found in Holland’s Livy 1600—also in Pliny—? in Camden 1610 (W. Worrall)’.

{1} Joannes Ravisius Textor (Jean Tixier de Ravisi), Officina partim historiis partim poeticis referta disciplinis (1520, etc.), a Latin commonplace book, frequently reprinted.

{2} Worrall had evidently consulted McKerrow in connection with the article on this word for the New English Dictionary; see vol. ix, part i (1919). The dictionary’s earliest citation of the word is from Greene’s Mamillia (Works, ed. Grosart, ii. 23). Its origin is obscure.

{3} Titus Livius, The Romane History … Also, the Breviaries of L. Florus, tr. Philemon Holland (1600) (STC 16613).

{4} William Camden, Britain, or, A Chorographicall Description of England, Scotland, and Ireland, tr. Philemon Holland (1610) (STC 4509).

{5} The note was submitted by Percy W. Long (Modern Language Review, vii. 373). Worrall’s response appeared in the October number (ibid., 544–5).

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