Justin Mariner

Pen to Print

The Printing Process

When were Shakespeare’s plays usually printed?

Shakespeare’s plays were printed once the company no longer wanted to perform them.

How much money did Shakespeare make off of the printed scripts?

Shakespeare made nothing from the printed scripts.

An experienced printer “casts off” the book. “casting off” is estimating how many pages will be in the book and determining how much of the handwritten text will fit on the page.

How did we come up with the terms upper and lower case?

In the Type Case of a printing press, the capital letters were stored in the upper part of the case and the normal ones in the lower part of the case.

How many pages could they print in an hour?

Generally, 200 pages could be printed in an hour.

What happened when they underestimated the text?

When the examiner underestimates the text, there will not be enough text to fill a page. To fix this, the printers would sometimes break iambic pentameter lines in half or add their own lines of text.

What happened when they overestimated the text?

When the examiner overestimates the text, there would be too much text to fit on one page. To fix this, lines of verse were turned into prose or sometimes entire lines were simply removed.

Shakespeare’s Language

Shakespeare’s vocabulary included over 27870 words. The average person today uses between 7500 and 10000 words.

List as many of Shakespeare’s made up words as you can:

advertising, bedroom, cold-blooded, jig, manager, numb, obscene, zany, xantippe, shooting star

List some of Shakespeare’s common expressions:

“For goodness’ sake!” “What the dickens” “An eye-sore” “Too much of a good thing” “Into thin air” “Not a mouse stirring” “Come full circle” “A foregone conclusion” “What’s done is done” “Dead as a doornail”

The Writing Process

Describe in your own words the process a script went through from Shakespeare’s writing it down the production of the play.

  1. Play registered
  2. Foul copy created
  3. Fair copy created
  4. Book of the Play created (Fair copy edited with stage directions and similar)
  5. Play performed
  6. When bored of performing, play is printed

When was Hamlet officially registered?

Hamlet was registered on September 27, 1602.

What are the Foul Papers?

Foul papers are the handwritten versions of the scripts and were understandably difficult to read.

What is a fair copy?

Fair copy is the final product after a scribe copies the Foul Papers into a format that is slightly easier to read.

What is the difference between Quarto I, Quarto II, and the First Folio Edition?

Quarto I: first (unauthorized) copy of Hamlet printed Quarto II: second (this time legit) copy printed First Folio: after Shakespeare died; different from both I and II