Welcome to BrianVickers.uk

BVN-Portrait1The main aim of this website is to create an accurate list of my publications so that anyone interested in my work can locate them. I also provide an up-to-date CV that is more accurate than those available elsewhere. The bio-bibliographical sections will remain constant, but under Databases I plan to add new material as my research advances. At a later point there will also be a section containing Letters to the Editor.

I have always tried to play a part in the design of my books, especially the dust-jackets, and I have been fortunate in working with receptive publishers. In 1974, when planning with Routledge and Kegan Paul the six volumes of Shakespeare, the Critical Heritage, I persuaded them to take a different image of Shakespeare for each volume, the changes in his appearance (all deriving from Droeshout, of course) matching the changes in his reception over those two hundred years. It gives me great pleasure that this series of dust-jackets is visible for the first time here. On their right are some of the six volumes so far published of its successor, Shakespeare, the Critical Tradition, dealing with individual plays. Long dormant, it is about to be re-launched by Bloomsbury, with the energetic support of Margaret Bartley, publisher of the Arden Shakespeare.

As for work in progress, I am Director of The Oxford Francis Bacon, in succession to J. B. Trapp and Graham Rees. Of the planned 16 volumes, eight have been published and eight are in preparation. I am general Editor of The Collected Works of John Ford, of which Volume 1 appeared in 2011. Volumes 2 and 3 are in production at OUP; 4 and 5 are in preparation. My current research includes a book on the text of King Lear, a collection of my essays on Francis Bacon, and a new edition of The Works of Thomas Kyd.

I live in London, conveniently near my four children – Bea, with her partner Alison and their children Sam and Joe; Gwen, with her husband Hugh and their children Phoebe and Joshua; Helen; Philip – and their mothers, to whom I owe so much: Dr Ilse Vickers and Dr Sabine Köllmann.

I am most grateful to Dr James Lancaster for the skill and patience with which he has built this website.

BWV 23 May 2016

  • Featured Publications

    For more details, please click on the book cover above.

    For more details, please click on the book cover above.

Brian Vickers (ed.), The Complete Works of John Ford, Volume II and III. Oxford University Press, 29 September 2016. Hardcover £180.00. 992 pages. 234x156mm. ISBN 9780198748878

Volumes II and III of the Complete Works of John Ford contain the six plays that Ford wrote at the beginning of his theatrical career in collaboration with other dramatists: The Laws of Candy (1619-20) with Massinger, The Witch of Edmonton (1621) with Dekker and Rowley, The Welsh Ambassador (1623) with Dekker, The Spanish Gypsy (1623) with Dekker, Rowley, and Middleton, The Sun’s Darling (1624) with Dekker, and The Fair Maid of the Inn (1626) with Massinger and Webster. This is the first time that Ford’s co-authored works have been collected. In Volume II the General Editor, Sir Brian Vickers, contributes two Introductions, ‘Co-authorship in Jacobean and Caroline Drama’, and ‘Identifying Co-Authors’. In the first he reviews collaborative authorship (practiced by every dramatist of this period), in terms of theatrical conditions, the competing companies, the need for new repertoire, the process of assigning individual contributions and assembling the whole play. In the second he discusses the methods that have been applied over the last two centuries to identify co-authors. He then provides separate discussions of the authorship problem in each play, evaluating previous attributions and bringing new evidence to bear. A special feature of this volume is the introduction of a new methodology, based on computer software programs that identify student plagiarism. Used in combination with high-speed search engines and a large electronic database of contemporary plays, this method permits for the first time accurate identification of each co-author’s contribution.

Volume III contains the text of the plays, edited by a team composed of established and younger scholars. Five of the plays — The Laws of Candy, The Witch of Edmonton, The Spanish Gypsy, The Sun’s Darling and The Fair Maid of the Inn — have been freshly edited from the original editions, surviving copies of which have been collated to identify press corrections. The sixth, The Welsh Ambassador, has been edited from the sole extant manuscript. For each work the editors provide an introduction that discusses the play’s date and theatrical genesis, its sources, dramaturgy and other features. A full commentary is provided for all texts, giving historical explanations of the vocabulary, parallel passages in other works by Ford, and theatrical annotation, where relevant. This volume provides a unique opportunity for everyone interested in the career of a major playwright to appreciate how he learned his trade by collaborating with more experienced dramatists, a process in which his own distinctive voice was formed.

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Brian Vickers, The One King LearHarvard University Press, 21 April  2016. Hardcover $45.00 • £30.00 • €35.00. 410 pages. 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches, 7 halftones, 1 line illustration, 2 tables. ISBN 9780674504844

King Lear exists in two different texts: the Quarto (1608) and the Folio (1623). Because each supplies passages missing in the other, for over 200 years editors combined the two to form a single text, the basis for all modern productions. Then in the 1980s a group of influential scholars argued that the two texts represent different versions of King Lear, that Shakespeare revised his play in light of theatrical performance. The two-text theory has since hardened into orthodoxy. Now for the first time in a book-length argument, one of the world’s most eminent Shakespeare scholars challenges the two-text theory. At stake is the way Shakespeare’s greatest play is read and performed.

Sir Brian Vickers demonstrates that the cuts in the Quarto were in fact carried out by the printer because he had underestimated the amount of paper he would need. Paper was an expensive commodity in the early modern period, and printers counted the number of lines or words in a manuscript before ordering their supply. As for the Folio, whereas the revisionists claim that Shakespeare cut the text in order to alter the balance between characters, Vickers sees no evidence of his agency. These cuts were likely made by the theater company to speed up the action. Vickers includes responses to the revisionist theory made by leading literary scholars, who show that the Folio cuts damage the play’s moral and emotional structure and are impracticable on the stage.

Praise for The One King Lear:

“This is a big, bold book, a major piece of scholarship for everyone to engage with. No one interested in the texts of Shakespeare’s work (and not only in the texts of King Lear) will be able to ignore it.”

– Peter Holland, University of Notre Dame

The One ‘King Lear’ is concerned with one of the most interesting and controversial issues relating not just to the two texts of what some see as Shakespeare’s greatest play, but to the dramatist and his art. There is much to enjoy in this book, and much to learn from it.”

– H.R. Woudhuysen, University of Oxford

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B41-2008(Co-author) Mächtige Worte. Antike Rhetorik und europäische Literatur, by Brian Vickers and Sabine Köllmann (Berlin: LIT-Verlag, 2008), partial translation of  B23, with new material.

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B40-2007Shakespeare, ‘A Lover’s Complaint’, and John Davies of Hereford (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), pp. xii, 329.

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B39-2005(Co-Editor) Shakespeare. The Critical Tradition. The Merchant of Venice, ed. by William Baker and Brian Vickers (London and New York; Continuum, 2004), pp. xli, 437. General Editor’s Preface, pp. ix–xli.

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B38-2004(General Editor) Shakespeare. The Critical Tradition. Coriolanus, 1687–1940, ed. by David George (London and New York; Continuum, 2004), pp. xxvi, 448. General Editor’s Preface, pp. viii–xxiii.

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B37-2002Shakespeare, Co-author. A Historical Study of Five Collaborative Plays (Oxford University Press, 2002), pp. xxix, 561. ISBN: 978-0-19-925653-2

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B36-2002‘Counterfeiting’ Shakespeare. Evidence, Authorship, and John Ford’s Funerall Elegye (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), pp. xxvii, 568.

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B35-2001(General editor) Shakespeare. The Critical Tradition. Measure for Measure, 1783–1920 ed. by George Geckle (London and NJ: Athlone Press, 2001), pp. xxxvi, 382. General Editor’s Preface, pp. x–xxxiv.

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B34-2000(Editor) English Renaissance Literary Criticism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), Pp. xv, 675. ISBN: 978-0-19-818679-3

‘Vickers’s splendid, fifty-five-page introduction puts his selection in context, tracing its application of the dazzling variety of classical rhetoric. This must be one of the most pithily compressed accounts ever attempted of criticism as applied rhetoric. It treats two related features most fully: imitatio, and the conception of literature as recommending virtue.
…Vickers rightly rebuts Foucault’s ill-informed notion of originality as an eighteenth-century discovery. In the Renaissance, a route to originality lay through assimilating a model’s qualities by imitatio, as Shakespeare did.…

The introduction treats the criterion of decorum as a relatively minor topic, equivalent to “correctness”. Fuller treatment might have brought out better its ramifying, ubiquitous presence in English criticism … But most of the emphases and judgments of the introduction could hardly have been bettered…..

Since English Renaissance Literary Criticism may well become the standard reference collection, its canon assumes some importance. Certain of the inclusions are inevitable.…

Vickers’s Notes are a model of pertinence and economy. They not only adduce a wide variety of ancient source, but ascribe these discriminatingly, in accordance with modern scholarship. And they implicitly confirm the coherence of English Renaissance criticism, by pointing to the same rhetorical authorities and showing the routes by which ancient criticism and rhetoric came to be absorbed.…

However, this excellent anthology can be recommended with very few reservations.’

– Alastair Fowler, Times Literary Supplement, 9 June 2000

‘Vickers’s introduction is lucid, wide-ranging and masterly. His notes are superb and properly acknowledge the contributions of earlier scholars. His selection of texts is enterprising, including much that is new, as well as a judicious choice of the best that is well-known. He provides a helpful glossary and user-friendly indexes to the material. This book is as useful as Russell and Winterbottom’s famous selection of Ancient Literary Criticism and when it appears in paperback teachers and students of renaissance literature will find it indispensable.’

– Peter Mack, Rhetorica (Winter 2002)

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B33-1999(General editor) Shakespeare. The Critical Tradition. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 1775–1920, ed. by Judith M. Kennedy and Richard F. Kennedy (London and NJ: Athlone Press, 1999), pp. xxi, 461. General Editor’s Preface, pp. x–xix.

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B32a-2002(Editor) Francis Bacon, The Essays and Counsels, Civil and Moral (The Folio Society, 2002).

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B32-1999(Editor) Francis Bacon, The Essays and Counsels, Civil and Moral (Oxford World’s Classics, 1999): pp. xliii, 216.

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B31-1998(General editor) Shakespeare. The Critical Tradition. Richard II, 1780–1920 ed. by Charles Forker (London and NJ: Athlone Press, 1998), pp. xviii, 593. General Editor’s Preface, pp. x–xv.

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B30-1998(Editor) Francis Bacon, History of the Reign of King Henry VII (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), pp. x, 281. (“Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought”)

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B29-1996(General editor) Shakespeare. The Critical Tradition. King John ed. by Joseph Candido (London and NJ: Athlone Press, 1996), pp. xvi, 415. General Editor’s Preface, pp. vi–ix.

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B28c-2008(Editor) Francis Bacon (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), pp. li, 813. (“ Oxford World’s Classics”)

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B28b-2002(Editor) Francis Bacon (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), pp. li, 813. (“The Oxford Authors”)

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B28a-1996(Editor) Francis Bacon (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), pp. li, 813. (“The Oxford Authors”).

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B28-1996(Editor) Francis Bacon (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), pp. li, 813. (“The Oxford Authors”)

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B27a-2001Ripensare Shakespeare. Questioni di critica contemporanea (Milan, 2001). Italian translation of B27 by Mario Baccianini, Marina Merella, and Alessandra Di Luzio.

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B27-1994Appropriating Shakespeare: Contemporary Critical Quarrels (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1993), pp. xvi, 501. Paperback ed. 1994; repr. 1996.

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B26-1989Returning to Shakespeare (London: Routledge, 1989), pp. viii, 257.

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B25a-1989Classical Rhetoric in English Poetry; second ed., with new Preface and additional bibliography (Carbondale, Ill.: Southern Illinois University Press, 1989), pp. vii, 186.

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B25-1989Classical Rhetoric in English Poetry; second ed., with new Preface and additional bibliography (Carbondale, Ill.: Southern Illinois University Press, 1989), pp. vii, 186.

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B24-1988Francis Bacon, German translation of  B15 and A30 by Reinhard Kaiser (Berlin: Wagenbach, 1988), pp. 78.

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B23a-1994Storia della retorica (Bologna: il Mulino, 1994), pp. 649. Italian translation of B23 by Rocco Coronato; introduction by Andrea Battistini.

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B23-1988In Defence of Rhetoric (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), pp. xi, 508.

‘Brian Vickers has written an invaluable book for anyone concerned with the arts of language, and his title is exact. In Defence of Rhetoric is just that, but it is also more than the word ‘defence’ might ordinarily suggest. A skilled orator well versed in the art he espouses, Professor Vickers examines his subject in all its various parts. The result is a comprehensive survey of the subject that both instructs and defends.…

The third part of his defence lies in an examination of the art itself. This begins in the book’s opening chapter, where he presents an eighty-two part summary of classical rhetoric. It is one of the most useful summaries I have read.’

– Marion Trousdale, Modern Language Review 85, 1990

‘“It is better to will the good than to know the truth”, Petrarch famously declared. Brian Vickers agrees and, heir to an anti-Platonist tradition that goes back at least to Isocrates in the fourth century BC, he argues that the will is best directed to the good by means of rhetoric, the art of persuasive communication and the systematization of natural eloquence. In his admirably learned, wide-ranging and thoroughly polemical history of that art, Professor Vickers also accepts the Renaissance view (which derives from Cicero and, ultimately, from Aristotle’s Rhetoric) that “the way to the will … [lies] partly through the reason”…

One of Vickers’s great accomplishments is that, with an erudition as deep as his touch is light, he shows the central role rhetoric has actually played in Western culture. He documents in painstaking detail the immense efforts devoted to the teaching and learning of rhetoric, in Rome as well as in the Renaissance….…

Vickers’s avowed goal is to restore rhetoric to the central position within culture which, he argues, it often enjoyed in the past and which he passionately, and not always unreasonably, believes it still deserves….…

Vickers’s book is also a triumph of formal exposition. It contains a remarkably lucid account of the three genres of oratory (judicial, deliberative and epideictic), of the five stages of rhetorical composition, of the six parts of the oration, and of the orator’s three duties (to instruct, to move and to delight). It also includes the best and clearest discussion of the rhetorical tropes and figures of which I am aware….…

It would be inappropriate to end this discussion on anything other than a note of gratitude for the inventio, dispositio and elocutio displayed in this remarkable history.’

– Alexander Nehamas, Times Literary Supplement, 15–21 July 1988

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B22a-1987(Editor) English Science, Bacon to Newton (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), pp. xi, 244.

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B22-1987(Editor) English Science, Bacon to Newton (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), pp. xi, 244.

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B21-1986(Editor) Public and Private Life in the Seventeenth Century: The Mackenzie-Evelyn Debate (Delmar, NY: Scholars’ Facsimiles and Reprints, 1986), pp. xlii, 277. – Introduction, pp. ix–xlii.

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B20-1985(Editor) Arbeit, Musse, Meditation. Betrachtungen zur Vita activa und Vita contemplativa (Zurich: Verlag der Fachvereine, 1985), pp. 307. (Proceedings of an international symposium held at the Centre for Renaissance Studies in 1981). – Introduction, pp. 1–19.

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B19a-1990Mentalidades ocultas y científicas en el Renacimento (Madrid: Alianza Editorial, 1990), pp. 318. Abridged Spanish translation of B19 by Jorge Vigil Rubio.

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B19-1984(Editor) Occult and Scientific Mentalities in the Renaissance(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), pp. xiv., 408. – Introduction, pp. 1–55.

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B18-1982(Editor) Rhetoric Revalued. Papers from the International Society for the History of Rhetoric (Binghamton, NY: Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 1982), pp. 281. – Introduction, pp. 13–39.

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B17-1979(Editor) Shakespeare: The Critical Heritage. Volume 6. 1774–1801 (London and Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1981), pp. 650.

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B16-1979(Editor) Shakespeare: The Critical Heritage. Volume 5. 1765–1774 (London and Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1979), pp. xvi, 569.

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B15-1978Francis Bacon (London: Longman, 1978), pp. 46; repr. in British Writers ed. I. Scott-Kilvert, Vol. 1 (New York: Scribner’s, 1979), pp. 257–74.

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B14-1976Shakespeare’s Coriolanus (London: Edward Arnold, 1976), pp. 68. (“Studies in English Literature” series).

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B13-1976(Editor) Shakespeare: The Critical Heritage. Volume 4. 1753–1765 (London and Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1976), pp. xiv, 583.

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B12-1976(Editor) Hooker: The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity. An Abridged Edition. Co-editor: A.S. McGrade (London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1976), pp. 413. Introduction 2: “Hooker’s Prose Style”, pp. 41–59.

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B11-1975(Editor) Shakespeare: The Critical Heritage. Volume 3. 1733–1752 (London and Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1975), pp. xii, 487.

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B10-1974(Editor) Shakespeare: The Critical Heritage. Volume 2. 1693–1733 (London and Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1974), pp. xi, 549.

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B9-1974(Editor) Shakespeare: The Critical Heritage. Volume 1. 1623–1692 (London and Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1974), pp. xi, 448.

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B8-1973Towards Greek Tragedy (London: Longman, 1973), pp. xvi, 658; repr. 1979.

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B7-1970Classical Rhetoric in English Poetry (London: Macmillan, 1970), pp. 180.

‘Brian Vickers has an enviable trick of making his subject fascinating and readable. The eagerness and conviction of his style has been a feature of all his books so far, and this one does not fall short in this respect. Like The Artistry of Shakespeare’s Prose and Francis Bacon and Renaissance Prose, it opens side-questions, hints at the writer’s inadequacy to deal with certain matters and invites the reader to fill the gaps, and promises more goods to come. The reader’s expectations are thus constantly alerted, and if some remain unfulfilled by the present book, the recompense of others which are, is great. …
The first chapter, “A concise history of rhetoric”, manages, in short space, to do well something which no writer has hitherto attempted: to give a broad and informed view of the whole development of rhetoric as a literary discipline, from ancient Greece to the nineteenth century. Nowhere does his account falter or flag. …

The kernel of the book, however, is chapter 3, “The function of rhetorical figures”. Here, Dr. Vickers comes to the point of his argument, which is that “the figures contain within themselves a whole series of emotional and psychological effects” (p. 79). The thesis, that the tropes and figures of rhetoric are not at all “a nuisance, a quite sterile appendage to rhetoric” (p. 12) is persuasively argued.’

– Kirsty Cochrane, Review of English Studies, 1971

‘Brian Vickers has provided what has been missing all along, a just, even handed, and comprehensive treatment of this subject. …

Vickers manages neither to despise rhetoric nor to claim too much for it as an aid to our understanding. He is admirable aware of the twofold dangers in a mechanistic, too-technical approach to the interrelationship of rhetoric and poetry: that of losing sight of the poem and that of losing the interest of a large proportion of his readers. When he does bring his book to its natural climax in the final chapter, with rhetorical analyses of poetry by Sidney, Spenser, and Herbert, he is gentle to both poem and reader, even to the point of warning us that these “are samples and demonstrations, and suffer from the usual fault of demonstration pieces, that the points have probably been too myopically and laboriously spelled out.” …

If there is one central idea, and one fresh perspective which Vickers wishes to offer his reader, it is this “… that rhetorical figures are the conventional representation of verbal patterns expressed in states of extreme emotion” (p. 94). His argument in support of this contention is both persuasive and attractive. …

The scholar already familiar with current studies of rhetoric will still find the book a convenient addition to his library; the student looking for easy access to the field will find it a valuable tool indeed.’

– Russell M. Brown, Renaissance and Reformation 9, 1972

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B6-1969(Editor) Seventeenth Century Prose: An Anthology (London: Longman, 1969), pp. 2

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B5-1968(Editor) The World of Jonathan Swift (Oxford: Blackwell; Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press), pp. ix, 273. – Introduction, pp. 1–24.

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B4a-1972(Editor) Essential Articles for the Study of Francis Bacon (London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1972), pp. xxiii, 323. – Introduction, pp. xi–xxiii.

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B4-1968(Editor) Essential Articles for the Study of Francis Bacon (Hamden, CT: Archon Press, 1968), pp. xxiii, 323. English publication by Sidgwick & Jackson (London, 1972). – Introduction, pp. xi–xxiii.

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B3b-2005The Artistry of Shakespeare’s Prose, Third Edition (London: Routledge, 2005), pp.vii, 452.

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B3a-1979The Artistry of Shakespeare’s Prose. Revised Edition (London: Methuen, 1979), pp. x, 452.

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B3-1968The Artistry of Shakespeare’s Prose (London: Methuen, 1968), pp. ix, 452.

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B42-2012(Co-editor) The Collected Works of John Ford, Volume I, edited by Gilles Monsarrat, Brian Vickers, and R. J. C. Watt (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), pp. xiv, 720. ISBN: 978-0-19-959290-6

‘The pieces collected in this volume, including the Elegy on John Fletcher and various commendatory poems edited by Vickers, were all circumstantial writings, whose specific occasions are convincingly clarified; at the same time, the editors have taken care to outline the deep coherence of Ford’s ideas, together with their progressive elaboration and the unevenness of their expression, sometimes firm and felicitous, sometimes lacking conceptual clarity and rigour. In that respect, this first volume of Ford’s Collected Works does not consist of independent editions bound together; it reads as the result of efficient teamwork, presenting the reader with the exciting reconstruction of a young writer’s formative years. …

The volume does not only provide accurate, careful, old-spelling editions based on fresh collation of existing manuscripts, known copies of early editions and previous modern editions; its substantial introductions are usefully complemented with clear commentaries elucidating archaic vocabulary as well as sources, analogues, and Ford’s unacknowledged translations and borrowings from classical authors. …

Two forthcoming volumes are announced. One will gather plays Ford wrote in collaboration with fellow dramatists, the other will collect Ford’s either sole-authored plays. When the whole set is completed, it will prove an invaluable reference work likely to give Fordian studies a fresh impetus and to provide scholars with a precious tool for a better understanding of the English literary scene between 1606 and 1638.’

– Yves Peyré, Cahiers Élisabéthains 81, 2012

‘Brian Vickers’s “Preface” to this, the first of three volumes that together will make up The Collected Works of John Ford, introduces the larger project with an overview of the editorial tradition, beginning with the single surviving copy of a volume from 1652, Comedies, Tragi-Comedies: & Tragœdies: written By John Ford, and following on the discontinuous history of fallings out and failings through Henry Weber’s edition of 1811, William Gifford’s of 1827, Dyce’s revision of Gifford in 1869, and into the twentieth century. Editor-in-chief of the new edition, and part also of its team of twelve collaborating co-editors, Vickers is well placed to survey, in sorrow if not in anger, what has been well or ill done by his predecessors …

In its making this edition prompts confidence from its users. Those sections of the text I have checked are accurate; the bibliographical descriptions in the “Introductions” are careful and full of detail …

Monsarrat, Vickers, and Watt’s undertaking demonstrates … that the first volume of Ford delivers a great deal, and, with the plays still to come in this new Collected Works, promises even more.’

– Tom Lockwood, The Library 7.14.3, 2013

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B2-1968Francis Bacon and Renaissance Prose (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1968), pp. xi, 316.

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B1a-1987

(Editor) Henry Mackenzie, The Man of Feeling (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987); reprint with corrections and bibliographical additions, pp. xxx, 137.

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B1-1967(Editor) Henry Mackenzie, The Man of Feeling (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1967), pp. xxx, 137 (“Oxford English Novels” series).

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