A miniature notebook, thought to contain contemporary comments and notes from a Shakespearean scholar was brought to the Antique Road Show in Berkshire. Titled as “Shakespeare: Comedies and Tragedies”, the matchbook sized notebook is believed to be written in the 17th century in Latin. Interestingly, there are no accounts of any kind of notes or edits on Shakespeare from that era.
At that time, literacy rates were low and there was limited access to Shakespeare’s manuscripts. Even English Literature was not in trend as a subject. As strange as it can be, contemporaries saw Shakespeare as untouchable. He carried a mythological status with no critic, except for this student.
The notebook is currently being transcribed. Manuscript specialist Matthew Haley said that the keeper of the notebook was either attending the plays when they were performed live on stage or was perhaps reading one of the first four printed editions of Shakespeare. This is really amazing. It has been discovered from the belongings of John Lovedays’ relative. John was a popular antiquarian from the 18th century.
Based on excerpts of this manuscript, scholars can see if the lines of his plays’ have changed overtime. Sometimes the best things do come in small packages.