Multiple authorship

As noted previously Nicoll’s Handlists are organized by author name, which makes them manageable, but also can be seriously misleading. In particular, where a play is to be credited to more than one author, Nicoll’s practice is to repeat the information about the play in a second slightly degenerate entry, thus inflating the number of entries in the Handlist. Here for example is the “main” entry for a play co-authored by A’Beckett and Lemon:

<entry type="Bsq.">
<author>A'BECKETT, GILBERT ABBOTT</author>
<title>The Knight and the Sprite </title>
<note type="perf">Strand, M. 11/11/1844</note>
<note>L.C. 9/11/1844.</note>
<note type="auth">[Written in collaboration with M. LEMON]</note>
</entry>

And here is what I have unkindly termed the “degenerate” entry for same:

<entry type="Bsq.">
<author>LEMON, MARK</author>
<title>The Knight and the Sprite </title>
<note type="perf">Strand, M. 11/11/1844</note>
<note>See G. A. A BECKETT.</note>
</entry>

I assume Nicoll’s rationale for this redundancy is to make it easier to find everything written by a given author when flipping through the pages of a printed volume. But this makes much less sense in a digital resource. What we would rather see (I think) is an entry which makes explicit its multiple authorship: like this

<entry type="multi">
<class>Bsq</class>
<author>A'BECKETT, GILBERT ABBOTT</author>
<author type="also">LEMON, MARK</author>
<title>The Knight and the Sprite </title>
<note type="perf">Strand, M. 11/11/1844</note>
<note>L.C. 9/11/1844.</note>
<note type="auth">[Written in collaboration with M. LEMON]</note>
</entry>

(Note that to get there I have had to rethink the way I encode Nicoll’s genre tags, initially by moving them to an element of their own rather than using the @type attribute of the <entry> element. And note also that I am preserving those arguably redundant <note type=”auth”> elements so I can tell if something goes wrong)

I have spent the last week or two slowly making this possible. Slowly because I am slow, but also because it is not entirely straightforward to translate the string “M. LEMON” (as given in the note in the main entry for A’Beckett) into “LEMON, MARK”, which is the handle used on other main entries for the distinguished editor of Punch. (The same would apply, of course, if I decided to use the note within the degenerate entry to effect the join: I would then have to map “G.A. A. BECKETT” to “A’BECKETT, GILBERT ABBOTT.” ) And these are easy cases: Nicoll’s canonical format for names can get quite complicated. Consider, for example, “YORKE, ELIZABETH, Countess of HARDWICKE” or “ADDISON, Captain (later Lieutenant-Colonel) HENRY ROBERT” … Anyway, I made the job easier for myself by extracting from the entries a lookup table mapping name components (as given by notes within main entries) to canonical full names: like this

<author f="49">
<s>LEMON</s>
<w>MARK</w>
<str>LEMON, MARK</str>
</author>

This all worked quite satisfactorily for the 1800-1850 entries, for which there are only 58 additional name entries to handle, though getting to the point of being reasonably confident in that number took much longer than you might think, involving as it did quite a lot of OCR error correction.

However, things got much more challenging when I looked into the 1850-1900 entries. Firstly, there are many more entries to deal with: 1299 cases of “collaboration” . Secondly, some cases (34 to be exact) use an abbreviated form like this:

<entry type="P.">
<author>BYAM, MARTIN </author>
<title>The Babes in the Wood </title>
<note type="perf">R.A. Woolwich, 14/12/57.</note> L.C.
<note type="auth">[Written in collaboration with F. GRAHAM and W. T. VINCENT.]</note>
</entry>

This main entry will need to get two additional author elements, one for “F.GRAHAM” and one for “W.T. VINCENT”, not just one – which means revising my simple-minded XSLT script yet again. And it will also have to handle notes like this without too much fuss:

<note type="auth">[Written in collaboration with A. R. SMITH, F. TALFOURD and W. P. HALE.]</note>

The script does a good job of alerting me to cases where Allardyce has apparently nodded, and named as a collaborator someone who does not appear anywhere in the rest of the Handlist. This happens precisely once in the 1800-1850 volume, but seemingly many times more in the later volume. However, on examination, many of these discrepancies are a consequence of my cavalier editing praxis. Things like the kinds of quotation marks used to flag up pseudonyms, or whether or not surnames can contain spaces, return to bite me. Others are caused by OCR failures – occasionally lines seem to have just dropped out.

And, further to keep me on my toes, I have now discovered that there are three cases in which Nicoll gives up entirely on this painstaking method of documenting multiple authorship. The first concerns 18 titles to be attributed to the pseudonymous “Richard Henry”: these all appear once only under “HENRY, RICHARD”, like this

<entry type="Bsq.">
<author>“HENRY, RICHARD" [RICHARD BUTLER and H. CHANCE NEWTON] </author>
<title>Lancelot the Lovely; or, The Idol of the King </title>
<note type="perf">(Aven. 22/4/89).</note> L.C.
<note type="music">[Music by J. Crook.]</note>
</entry>

None of these 18 titles is listed, however, under NEWTON, nor indeed under BUTLER. A further, and apparently disjoint, batch of titles is listed under “NEWTON, H. CHANCE (“RICHARD HENRY”), I think I am going to pretend I haven’t noticed them. Likewise this one:

<entry type="D.Sk.">
<author>GORDON-CLIFFORD, E. and H. </author>
<title>A Black Dove </title>
<note type="perf">P’s. H. Kew, 12/9/94.</note>
</entry>

OpenEdition vous propose de citer ce billet de la manière suivante :
foxglove (13 juin 2024). Multiple authorship. Foxglove. Consulté le 21 juillet 2024 à l’adresse https://doi.org/10.58079/11t8g


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