Dr Ben Higgins, LMH’s Career Development Fellow in English, has been shortlisted for the Shakespeare's Globe Book Award 2023 for his recently-published book: Shakespeare’s Syndicate: The First Folio, its Publishers, and the Early Modern Book Trade. The award, worth £3,000, aims to promote the work of new and emerging scholars in the field of Shakespeare studies.
In Shakespeare’s Syndicate, Dr Higgins offers a radical new account of Shakespeare’s First Folio by focusing on the four publishing businesses that were responsible for printing the volume and making it available to audiences for the first time in 1623. By moving between close scrutiny of the Folio publishers and a wider view of their significance within the early modern book trade, Dr Higgins uses Shakespeare's stationers to explore the 'literariness' of the Folio; to ask how stationers have shaped textual authority; to argue for the interpretive potential of the 'minor' Shakespearean bookseller; and to examine the topography of Shakespearean publication.
Dr Higgins draws on a range of sources including court records, manuscript letters, bookseller's bills, and of course the text itself to present a fresh perspective on one of the world’s most famous pieces of literature.
Of the decision to shortlist Shakespeare’s Syndicate for the Shakespeare’s Globe Book Award 2023, the judging panel said: “Ben Higgins’s Shakespeare’s Syndicate is a hugely impressive study of the bookish world around the First Folio. Conceived as an extensive close reading of the book’s title page, it takes the reader on a thrilling tour of the book trade that published, printed, marketed, and sold this most influential of volumes. Devoting a chapter each to Edward Blount, John Smethwick, William Aspley, and William and Isaac Jaggard, Higgins makes the case for these figures as ‘merchants of belief’, vital to the formation of the book’s value, and the ‘creation of [its] literariness’.”
Earlier this year, Dr Higgins’ book was also shortlisted for the Renaissance Society of America’s First Book Award.
Dr Higgins will be giving a lecture on 'The First Folio in 2023: Four Hundred Years of the Book that Made Shakespeare' at our Alumni Garden Party on Saturday 24th June.