The System of Title Citation for Manuscripts

The Apparatus Page for each manuscript begins with a section, “Title,” which discusses the name of that manuscript—a more or less complicated topic, depending on how many naming systems have been applied to the manuscript in question. The most familiar system historically, and therefore the one adopted most pervasively in ERM for hyperlinking purposes, derives from W. G. Collingwoodʼs bibliographical practice in Poems (1891). Another system derives from Ruskinʼs own practices of naming the manuscripts, whether in youth or old age. Because neither of these practices was consistent and comprehensive, the traditions of naming the manuscripts require to be supplemented.
In youth, when Ruskin was working with his manuscripts, his names for them tended to be either generic—as in the term red book, which applied to a class of small, reddish‐brown bound notebooks used for the earliest juvenilia—or derived from a work contained in the manuscript. For example, in March 1829, Ruskin wrote to his father: “I am trying to get that red book of mine which has the Monastery in it finished, by the time you come home,” referring both to MS III and to a work, “The Monastery”, included in the notebook. The work, Ruskinʼs versification of the novel by Walter Scott, is not the most prominent piece contained in the Red Book, but it happened to be uppermost in Ruskinʼs mind at the time.
In many of the initially blank, bound notebooks and ledgers that Ruskin typically used to draft or fair copy his work—he also used loose sheets of paper, or pamphlets folded and sewn by hand (see Overview of Manuscripts)—he dedicated the notebook initially to a major work, for which he devised a decorated title page. For example, MS I, MS III, and MS IIIA, begin with volumes 1, 2, and 3, respectively, of “Harry and Lucy”. Presumably, in these cases, Ruskin referred to the manuscript by the title of its major work, using that title interchangeably for the text of the work and for the physical manuscript witnessing its fair copy. Thus, when Ruskin announces in a 14 January 1832 letter that “Iteriad” is at last finished, quite copied in, fairly dismissed,” and that he has “put such a finis” with “innumerable flourishes with which it is decorated and the paper loaded you would think there never was to be a beginning of that end,” he clearly means that he has “copied in” the work, “Iteriad”, into the bound notebook that Collingwood would later designate as MS VII, and “decorated” and “loaded” the “paper” of the physical object in order to celebrate completion of the text of the poem. The title “Iteriad” applied equally to the text of the poem and to its fair‐copy manuscript.
Such coterminous titles could not have been stable, however. We do not know what Ruskin called the notebook containing the fair copy of “Iteriad” when, over time, he subjected this notebook, like so many of his manuscripts, to additional uses. In this case, he followed “Iteriad” in MS VII with a fair copy of a new, but never‐completed epic poem, “Athens”. Later, still more works were fair‐copied into this ledger. Titles of manuscripts could shift with their uses. The handmade pamphlet now known as MS II shows “Vol 1” scrawled on the top right corner of its first recto. The designation appears as an afterthought, inserted into a space next to the title of the first poem of this little anthology. What the name of the manuscript means is obscure: other, complementary “volumes” may have existed, but it is just as likely that the pamphlet only temporarily occupied the position of first in a putative series that remained only an idea.
Titles could also be kept deliberately open‐ended. On the first blank recto of the notebook now known as MS V, Ruskin wrote the heading, “Miscellaneous Poetry,” and numbered this recto as page 1. As a title for the anthology of poems contained in the notebook, “Miscellaneous Poetry” became intriguingly coterminous for both the text of the anthology and for the physical notebook containing the text, when Ruskinʼs father inserted below Johnʼs title the attribution, “By J. Ruskin from 10 years to 11 to 12 to [. . .] of age”—the ellipsis representing a gap that John James left to be filled in, as the anthology progressed. Thus, the collaborative title—along with the text of the anthology—remained open‐ended, as the text advanced toward the physical limits of the notebook that defined the scope of the anthology. John James never completed his portion of the title because Ruskin never filled the notebook—the unpunctuated final line, “Away and away,” of the last poem added to the anthology trailing off into the blankness of remaining pages.
Even when Ruskinʼs usage of a title is documented consistently over time, the evidence may be unclear to what the title refers. In letters of 1832 and 1835, Ruskin mentioned his “mineralogical dictionary,” and both the title and (roughly) the dates of composition held good decades later, when in 1864 Ruskin referred to having “written a Mineralogical Dictionary,” for which he “invented a shorthand symbolism for crystalline forms, before [he] was fourteen”. Again, in 1875, in Deucalion, he wanted readers to know that he “began when . . . only twelve years old, a Mineralogical Dictionary, written in a shorthand composed of crystallographic signs now entirely unintelligble to me.” Finally, in 1885 in Praeterita, he remembered that his “fifteenth birthday gift” of Voyages dans les Alpes, by Horace Bénédict de Saussure, assisted him in “carrying on [his] mineralogical dictionary” (Burd ed., Ruskin Family Letters, 263, 311; Ruskin, Works, 26: 553, 97; 35: 121). In the 1930s, when Charles Goodspeed purchased “Early Geology” included in lot 27 of Sothebyʼs Sale of Ruskin Manuscripts and Library, 1931, he did not hesitate to advertise this manuscript for sale as Ruskinʼs “Mineralogical Dictionary” Goodspeedʼs Book Shop, A Catalogue of Paintings, Drawings and Manuscripts by John Ruskin, 20; and see Sotheby & Co., Catalogue of the Final Portion of the Manuscripts & Library of John Ruskin, 6). But while this manuscript does include portions written in a boyhood “shorthand symbolism,” it shows no title; and this manuscript, or compilation of manuscripts, which was bound in red buckram at some point during preparation of the Library Edition and labeled Early Geology on the spine may or may not include what Ruskin meant in 1832 and/or 1835 by his “mineralogical dictionary”—or even in 1864, 1875, or 1885. (Another example of Ruskin exhibiting different ideas at different times about his early manuscripts is his docketing of some of the Red Books in 1870, using a numbering scheme guided by some purpose that can now only guessed at).
Perhaps owing to an awareness of these ambiguities, or perhaps just for the sake of simplicity, W. G. Collingwood was led in 1891 to found a numerical system of identifying the early manuscripts. In the “Preliminary Note on the Original MSS. of the Poems,” appended to his edition of Ruskinʼs poetry, the Poems (1891), Collingwood compiled the first systematic descriptive bibliography of selected early manuscripts, and he identified these manuscripts according to a sequence of Roman numerals (Poems [4o, 1891], 1: 261–67; Poems [8o, 1891], 1: 262–68). The primary purpose of this descriptive bibliography was to explain and justify a chronological order of the manuscripts, supplying a “justification of the hypothetical dates assigned to some of the poems” (Poems [4o, 1891], 1: 261; Poems [8o, 1891], 1: 262–63). The Roman numerals reenforced this idea of a proven chronology.
Collingwoodʼs scheme was elaborated by subsequent editors. A decade after the Poems (1891), the editors of the Library Edition, E. T. Cook (1857–1919) and Alexander Wedderburn (1854–1931), carried forward with Collingwoodʼs nomenclature by reprinting and expanding his “Note” as an appendix to the Poems, volume 2 (1902) of the Works. In Cook and Wedderburnʼs “Notes on the Original MSS. of the Poems [Revised and Completed from the Edition of 1891],” the editors accounted for manuscripts that Collingwood had omitted by inserting new descriptions and designating them with a Roman numeral plus an English alphabet letter. In this way, the editors attempted to maintain Collingwoodʼs chronological order, inserting the new item into its appropriate place in the numerical order Thus, for example, they inserted MS IA and MS IB between the manuscripts that Collingwood had numbered MS I and MS II, because the earliest work contained in MS IA and MS IB as a whole appeared to fall chronologically into that position.
Collingwoodʼs aim of representing a chronological order of manuscripts could never have achieved more than an approximation of the manuscriptsʼ sequence, since several of the bound manuscripts overlap one another in the chronological range of their contents. His sequence is also erroneous in parts owing to misdating of some manuscripts. Most problematically, Collingwood decided from the start to omit from the “Note” those manuscripts containing exclusively prose, as these seemed to him irrelevant to the project of editing the Poems (1891). Presumably, Collingwood intended ultimately to supply a corresponding nomenclature for manuscripts to be included in a complementary edition of the early prose, but this project never came to pass (see History of Bibliography and Editing of the Early Manuscripts). As a result, arbitrary and misleading limitations were built into the scope of Collingwoodʼs bibliography, confusions that Cook and Wedderburn perpetuated by confining their revision of Collingwoodʼs “Note” to manuscripts containing poetry, and relegating prose manuscripts to the Bibliography, volume 39 (1912) of the Works.
In Cook and Wedderburnʼs bibliography, the early prose manuscripts known to them appear in division III, “Catalogue of Ruskin MSS.”, section B, “Diaries and Note-Books” (as opposed to manuscripts of published works, in section A), subsection b, “Note-Books, Etc.” (Ruskin, Works, 39: 205–6). The prose manuscripts are assigned discursive titles, rather than Roman numerals, such as “Sermon Book (1827),” “Mineralogical Dict. (1831)”, and “Juvenilia”. The latter title subsumes three early notebooks, collected together and separated without explanation from other prose manuscripts of the 1820s–30s listed under their own titles; presumably, the editors associated them, because all three are Red Books. These three notebooks are given brief descriptions rather than titles (in ERM, the three notebooks correspond, respectively, to MS Juvenilia A, MS Juvenilia B, and MS Juvenilia C).
Elsewhere in Cook and Wedderburnʼs bibliography, the editors list “Minor Writings” that are quoted thoughout the Works, including brief “extracts” from “Juvenilia” (some prose, some poetry) (Ruskin, Works, 39: 92).
One solution to this complexity would be to scrap Collingwoodʼs nomenclature, and start anew with a corrected and comprehensive system, but this drastic move would cause unnecessary confusion. More than a centuryʼs accumulation of scholarship has relied on the nomenclature in Collingwoodʼs “Note” as expanded in the Library Edition. Moreover, the “Note,” however faulty, retains considerable historical interest, as Collingwood compiled it when Ruskin was still alive; and while the ill and elderly Ruskin is unlikely to contributed in any extensive way to this descriptive bibliography, one cannot discount the possibility that the “Note” conveys some of Ruskinʼs own ideas about the preservation and classification of these manuscripts. Even if Ruskin played no part at all in Collingwoodʼs editing of the Poems (1891), the involvement of the fin de siècle Brantwood circle in the project is just as significant.
Helen Gill Viljoenʼs solution was to compile her own version of Collingwoodʼs “Note,” in competition with Cook and Wedderburnʼs version. In her typescript, “Dating MSS. of Boyhood”, a descriptive bibliography that she attached as “Appendix VII” to her unfinished biography of Ruskin, “Dark Star” (1930–48, in “Helen Gill Viljoen Papers”), Viljoen continued Cook and Wedderburnʼs practice in the Library Edition of fitting additional manuscripts into Collingwoodʼs Roman‐numeral scheme of chronological sequence; for example, the “Sermon Book” that Cook and Wedderburn list in their bibliography (III.B.b [Ruskin, Works, 39: 206]) becomes MSS No. II.A, B, C, D, and E, containing the Sermons on the Pentateuch. Viljoenʼs item is expanded to include all five of these handmade pamphlets, only one of which was known to Cook and Wedderburn; and she situates it following MS II, another handmade pamphlet with sermon content, and which Collingwood had included in his original “Note”.
Reverential of Collingwood as Viljoen was, she recognized that his original “Note” contained dating errors; and so in order to preserve his Roman‐numeral nomenclature, while also correcting, yet remaining faithful to the spirit of his chronological ordering of manuscripts, Viljoen layered a Roman‐numeral reordering over top of Collingwoodʼs original Roman‐numeral designations. Thus, “Dating MSS. of Boyhood” proposes a sequence identifying manuscripts as follows:
  • I. MS No. I
  • II. MS No. IA
  • III. MS No. III
  • IV. MS No. IIIA
  • V. MS No. II
  • VI. MSS Nos. IIA, B, C, D, E
  • VII. MS No. IV
And so on, in which the first Roman numeral in a given entry represents Viljoenʼs attempt a chronological reordering, while the second (the manuscript number per se) is drawn either from Collingwoodʼs original scheme or represents Viljoenʼs insertion of a manuscript into that scheme. (Viljoen wanted nothing to do with Cook and Wedderburnʼs insertions, so she ignored their assignation of “MS IA” to the collection of manuscripts that they bound under that name, and instead assigned “MS IA” to the manuscript of “The Puppet Show”, which Cook and Wedderburn called “MS IB”.)
Whatever the other merits of Viljoenʼs “Dating MSS. of Boyhood,” her solution for naming and numbering manuscripts fails to lend clarity to what was already a losing proposition of ordering objects linearly that Ruskin did not use in that fashion. He protracted use of some manuscripts over several years, and he overwrote others, building up layers of chronological sequence within a given manuscript. Fortunately, electronic publication provides alternatives to linear ordering (see Plan of the Archive).
As for Cook and Wedderburnʼs and Viljoenʼs accretions of manuscript designations to Collingwoodʼs “Note,” the practice in ERM is, in any case, to document fully as possible the history of naming manuscripts and works in the “Title” sections of apparatuses, while for hyperlinking purposes to use short titles for which a clear trail exists in bibliography and scholarship. Therefore, manuscripts are designated by Roman numeral if they were assigned one either in Collingwoodʼs “Note”, or in Cook and Wedderburnʼs revision of the “Note” for the Library Edition. Since Viljoenʼs additional Roman‐numeral designations (and even redesignation, in one case) were never published, ERM prefers the short discursive titles established in Cook and Wedderburnʼs bibliography (III.B.b), titles that typically are also reflected in the provenance of modern bindings, sales catalogs, and library catalogs for the collections that ultimately preserved these manuscripts.
An exception is MS IIIA, for which ERM accepts Viljoenʼs title. Although its provenance can be traced in Sothebyʼs Sale of Ruskin Manuscripts and Library, 1930, this Red Book was not listed or named in Cook and Wedderburnʼs bibliography, and Viljoen appears to have been the first to name the manuscript.
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