Dr Ben Higgins, LMH’s Career Development Fellow in English, has been announced as joint winner of this year’s Shakespeare's Globe Book Award for his book Shakespeare’s Syndicate: The First Folio, its Publishers, and the Early Modern Book Trade (Oxford University Press, 2022).
Ben was awarded the prize jointly with Noémie Ndiaye, who won for her book Scripts of Blackness: Early Modern Performance Culture and the Making of Race (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2022).
The judging panel praised Ben for the originality of his book: “We didn’t expect there was a whole new story about the First Folio awaiting Ben Higgins’s exceptional narrative eye and analytical mind. His Shakespeare’s Syndicate weaves an astonishing story of literary ambition and business acumen from the lives of the four stationers responsible for Shakespeare’s collected works, and makes the bookish world of early modern London live again in the folio’s anniversary year.”
In Shakespeare’s Syndicate, Ben 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, Ben 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.
Ben said of his win: "I’m completely delighted to win this prize and to share the award with Noémie. It was an honour to be shortlisted among a group of scholars whose work I admire very much and who collectively represent the best of cutting-edge scholarship on Shakespeare’s writings. I’m very happy to see that a book launched from the Old Library here in LMH last year has met with success in the wider world, and excited to speak about it more at the lecture in London in October. Many thanks to the judges for their careful work and congratulations to Noémie for her own brilliant book."
Ben and Noémie share prize winnings of £3,000, and will deliver a public lecture in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse in London on Thursday 19th October. Tickets and information are available on the Globe’s website.