Love's Labour's Lost

This copy of Love's Labour's Lost belonged to William Drummond, and formed part of his gift to the library at the College of Edinburgh in 1626. Drummond's signature is not to be found on the book, but as the remnants of writing at the very top edge of the titlepage show, it has been cut or cropped during binding and inscriptions have been lost. The play does feature Drummond's annotations, however - as a poet with a strong interest in reading and writing sonnets, he has made particular note of the examples of the genre included in Act 4, scenes 2 and 3. Drummond also included this play with Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night's Dream among 'books red by me' in 1606.

Although it describes itself as 'newly corrected and augmented', this quarto of 1598 is the earliest known text of the play, and the earliest of Shakespeare's plays in print to feature his name on its titlepage. A surviving library catalogue from the period, which records an edition dating from 1597, suggests that the 1598 '1st Quarto' was in fact the second edition to appear in print. Evidence of the habits of the printers working for William White - the 'W.W.' of the titlepage - also suggests that they were setting this edition from an earlier printed text, which they must have been following fairly closely. In which case, the claimed corrections and augmentations of the titlepage may be more advertising than truthful statement.


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Further Study

This copy is in the University of Edinburgh library, shelfmark De.3.74. For more on the publication and textual history of the play, see Lukas Erne, Shakespeare as Literary Dramatist (Cambridge, 2003), Stanley Wells, Gary Taylor, John Jowett and William Montgomery, eds, William Shakespeare: A Textual Companion (Oxford, 1987), Paul Werstine 'Variants in the First Quarto of Love's Labor's Lost', Shakespeare Studies 12 (1979), 35-47, and Andrew Murphy, Shakespeare in Print (Cambridge, 2003).