Greg Lectures

Scope and Content

Typescript of four lectures on bibliography, manuscripts and printed books by Sir Walter Greg, 1932-1933. With annotations by Greg.

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir Walter Wilson Greg (1875-1959) was a bibliographer and Shakespeare scholar.

Greg was born at Wimbledon Common in 1875. His father, William Rathbone Greg, was an essayist; his mother was the daughter of James Wilson. As a child, Greg was expected one day to assume editorship of 'The Economist', which his grandfather had founded in 1843; Greg was educated at Harrow and at Trinity College, Cambridge] At Cambridge he met Ronald McKerrow, whose friendship helped shape Greg's decision to pursue a career in literature. While still in school he compiled a list of Renaissance plays printed before 1700, and he joined the Bibliographical Society the same year.

After school, Greg settled into a life of steady productivity, while living on the proceeds of his shares of The Economist. Working in close association with A H Bullen, he produced 'Pastoral Poetry and Pastoral Drama' (1906), the first edited version of the account books of Philip Henslowe (1906-1908) and the papers of Edward Alleyn. He also served as general editor to the publications of the Malone Society between 1906 and 1939. He served as Librarian of Trinity College, 1907-13, resigning after his marriage to his cousin Elizabeth Gaskell. As an independent scholar, Greg produced editions of 'The Merry Wives of Windsor' (1910), Robert Greene's 'Orlando Furioso' and George Peele's 'The Battle of Alcazar' (published together, 1923), and 'Sir Thomas More' (1911). He returned to specific editing with work on 'Doctor Faustu's (1950). Greg also wrote on the material conditions of Renaissance theatre and publishing; his work in this regard includes 'Dramatic Documents from the Elizabethan Playhouses' (1931) and 'English Literary Autographs, 1550-1650' (1932). 'The Variants in the First Quarto of King Lear' (1940) offered a careful examination of this printing. He also wrote hundreds of reviews, including a notably caustic rejection of J Churton Collins's 1906 edition of Robert Greene.

At the beginning of World War II, Greg moved to Sussex, where he spent the war working on his edition of 'Faustus'. In addition, he began to prepare his great works of the 1950s: 'The Editorial Problem in Shakespeare' (1951), 'The Shakespeare First Folio: Its Bibliographical and Textual History' (1955), 'Some Aspects and Problems of London Publishing, 1550-1650' (1954), and the essay "The rationale of copy-text" (1950). He was Reader in Bibliography at Oxford University, 1954-1955. Greg was knighted in 1950.

Access Information


The papers are available subject to the usual conditions of access to Archives and Manuscripts material, after the completion of a Reader's Undertaking.

Acquisition Information

Given to Library by Elizabeth, Lady Grey, 1959. Original accession no. G 13806.

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