Hands-On Book History by Susanna Niskanen

Susanna NiskanenI come from Finland and am in my fourth year as an English Undergraduate at the University of Dundee. I am thinking of doing a Masters in English after graduation. I am especially interested in Old English literature.

The vvorkes of our ancient and learned English poet, Geffrey Chaucer, newly printed….edited, with a Life of … Chaucer, by Thomas Speght (1602)

Brechin Collection UQ 821.17

Thomas Speght’s edition of 1602 is the most elaborate early modern printing of Chaucer’s works. As Middle English was beginning to be outdated by this time, Speght was the first to provide explanations and a glossary of words no longer in common use. An earlier edition had been published in 1598. The second edition of 1602 was far more elaborate, however, indicating that there was still interest in Chaucer’s works. It can be argued that Speght’s expansive, if sometimes erroneous, additions served to downplay the medieval character of Chaucer’s work and bring it into line with contemporary taste, thus ensuring that the poet would still be read by seventeenth-century Englishmen.