This website is a work-in-progress edition of Margaret Cavendish’s Poems and Fancies, first published in 1653 and reprinted, completely revised and rearranged, in 1664, and again in 1668. The poems presented here have been produced after a full collation across all three editions. We present here a “best text” of the three editions, meaning we have chosen on a point by point basis for every textual variant which reading we think is best (usually, most intelligible, most poetically ambiguous, etc.). Many of Cavendish’s revisions in the 1660s were designed to fix meter or rhyme, though sometimes at the expense of clarity; we have attempted to strike a balance between sense and regular meter.
Currently included are all the poems from the Part I of Cavendish’s text, edited, modernized (including typography, punctuation, and capitalization), and arranged in the order of the 1653 edition. Each poem also includes detailed textual notes noting all substantive differences across the three editions, so that readers can track the *many* changes Cavendish made among the editions (especially in the 1664 revision of 1653).
All the editorial work on this site is by Liza Blake, Assistant Professor of English at the University of Toronto, as well as by her two research assistants for Part I, Shalini Nanayakkara and Crimson Craighead. Much of the editorial work on this edition was made possible by a University of Toronto Mississauga Research Opportunity Program grant that allowed us to travel to the Folger Shakespeare Library to examine and collate early printings of Cavendish’s poems. We are grateful to the Folger Library for hosting us, and to the UTM ROP program for funding our trip.
Parts II (the debate poems and “moral” poems) and III (poems written for about about poets) are in progress, and should be uploaded by the end of 2017.
If you have any questions or comments, email liza[dot]blake[at]utoronto[dot]ca.