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, and to present her poems in the best light possible. Those interested in reading one version rather than another can refer to the multiple textual notes.
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 several undergraduate research assistants and collaborators from the University of Toronto Mississauga. The prefatory materials and Part I were collaboratively edited with Crimson Craighead and Shalini Nanayakkara; Part II, with Mariam Hanna, Farheen Khan, and Faryal Khan; Part II’s Clasp, with Katherine Reid; Part III, with Carl Kersey and Ayesha Tirmzi; Part IV, with Katherine Reid; and Part V, with Emma Duffee, Nicholas Marcelli, Tess Rahaman, Elena Senechal-Becker, and Kristen Zimmer.
Much of the editorial work on this edition was made possible by University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) Research Opportunity Program (ROP) grants, which allowed us to travel to the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC, and the British Library in London, UK, to examine and collate early printings of Cavendish’s poems. We are grateful to the Folger Library and British Library for hosting us, and to the UTM ROP program for funding our trips. Work on Part V was supported by the Univ. of Toronto’s Jackman Humanities Initiative’s undergraduate Scholars in Residence program, hosted at UTM. We are also grateful that this website is hosted on the servers of Rob Blake, who donated server space and technical support.
Parts II (the debate poems and “moral” poems, addressed to moral philosophers), III (“similizing” poems written for and about about poets), IV (including her famous fairy poems that the Victorians loved), and V (on battles, and on mourning) should all be uploaded by the end of 2018.
If you have any questions or comments, email liza[dot]blake[at]utoronto[dot]ca.