Home  »  Volume XVIII: American LATER NATIONAL LITERATURE: PART III  »  § 41. Richard Grant White

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVIII. Later National Literature, Part III.

XXV. Scholars

§ 41. Richard Grant White

Richard Grant White’s Shakespeare’s Scholar (1854) criticized acutely the manuscript “corrections” in J. P. Collier’s then famous and afterward notorious “Perkins Folio.” White did not at first believe that these had been forged by Collier, and he considered that many of them had intrinsic merit; but he demonstrated that they were not early emendations, and were wholly without authority as such. His edition of Shakespeare (1857–66) and his later Studies in Shakespeare (1885), though they retain certain characteristics of the Romantic School, exhibit on the whole a healthy reaction against it such as became the friend of Lowell and of Norton. White is romantically inclined to a personal interpretation of Shakespeare’s Sonnets and of many of the speeches in the plays, believing in particular that Ulysses in Troilus and Cressida is Shakespeare’s own mouthpiece. On the other hand, he anticipates the later non-idealistic school in regarding Shakespeare as intent simply on writing plays that will pay, and as having “no system of dramatic art.” White’s text is based upon a careful examination of the Folios and Quartos, accepting the first Folio as generally authentic. In the matter of emendations he is exceedingly cautious—too cautious to suit Lowell. White’s notes and commentary in general endeavour simply to put the reader face to face with Shakespeare, and his edition as a whole is justly recognized as combining scholarship with attention to the needs of the general reader.