The material foundation of the project is threefold: (a) the formatted, proofread transcriptions of Donne’s poems prepared for use in The Variorum Edition of the Poetry of John Donne, (b) the various seventeenth-century editions of Donne’s Poems, by J. D. with Elegies on the Authors Death held in Cushing Memorial Library and Archives at Texas A&M University, and (c) selected manuscript witnesses to which we have obtained access: the St. Paul ’s Cathedral Library manuscript 49.B.43 (SP1), the Westmoreland manuscript in the Berg Collection of the New York Public Library (NY3), the O’Flahertie manuscript (ms. Eng. 966.5) in the Houghton Library at Harvard University (H6), and Donne’s holograph verse letter “To the Honorable lady the lady Carew” (MS Eng. poet. d. 197) in the Bodleian Library at Oxford (O15). We plan to add other editions and manuscripts as time and resources permit.
The print exemplars used are the Henry White copy of the 1633 Poems; the Kaye-Shapiro copy of the 1635Poems, purchased from the library of the late I. A. Shapiro in 2004; and the Thomas Martin copy of the 1669 Poems, presented to Cushing Library in 1965 by Allan Sheldon. The copies read against these volumes in the search for press variants include those at the following locations:
- The Bodleian Library (O)*
- The British Library (L)
- Harvard University (MH)
- The Henry E. Huntington Library (CSmH)
- The John Rylands Library (M)
- St. John’s College, Oxford (OJn)
- The University of Michigan (MiU)*
- Wadham College, Oxford (Owa)*
- Yale University (CtY)
Cushing Library’s two copies of the 1633 Poems are designated
- TxAM(1) (the Henry White copy) and
- TxAM(2) (the Shapiro copy).
As copies in other repositories become relevant to this project, they will be added to the list.
*These copies have not been thoroughly collated, and their readings cannot be inferred when not explicitly reported.
In presenting the various editions of the Poems, we have sought to transcribe the poetic text exactly as it appears in the exemplar used as copy-text (we have not transcribed either non-Donne poems or the prose included in the volume). In instances involving press variants, we record the reading of the copy-text in the transcriptions, citing variant readings in an asterisked pop-up box and indicating whether the variant represents the corrected (cor) or the uncorrected (unc) state of the text.