A Study of Shakespeare's Versification

With an Inquiry into the Trustworthiness of the Early Texts an Examination of the 1616 Folio of Ben Jonson's Works and Appendices including a Revised Test of 'Antony and Cleopatra'

The Reverend Matthew Albert Bayfield (1852–1922) published this study at the end of his life after a long career as classical scholar, editor of Greek tragedies and headmaster of several public schools. He gives an account of the structure and characteristic features of Shakespeare's dramatic verse and argues that it has been fundamentally misunderstood by other scholars. In particular, he analyses the use of contractions or abbreviations found in the Folio and Quartos and continued in the editions of his own time. He weighs up which of the contractions familiar from many editions were actually Shakespeare's, and what that reveals about how Shakespeare might have intended his prose and verse to be spoken. Bayfield's many appendices evaluating the metre of specific lines and his detailed linguistic analysis remain thought-provoking for modern editors and scholars of Shakespeare.