60. 10 April 1995 [ES] (Yale editing; Edward III; Stratfordians )

previously unpublished; © the estate of eric sams and beatrice cazac (Mrs. Mathew’s letters)

Dear Hayat,

   Thanks for your card. I confess I wasn't all that smitten by the suggested title. How about 'A Reappraisal', which I can't help observing (no doubt under the undue influence of the Times crossword) is 'real' with much praise in it.

   You ask about Yale editing. For the kind of books we write, namely factual and cross-referenced, I think some kind of help is essential. One very real difficulty for me is always that only a very few other people are well briefed on all the relevant facts; and I'm one of the world's worst proof-readers. I like to think that's because I habitually read very quickly and impatiently, subconsciously correcting any errors and supplying any lacunae; but another and no doubt more accurate way of putting the same point is that proof-reading demands more dispassionate attention to detail than I could ever muster, even if I had the time and patience. Also I rewrote (believe it or not) one or two chapters that I wasn't really satisfied with, and this rather squeezed the Yale time-table, so that the delectable Candida (who, I was eventually persuaded, actually had other duties and preoccupations) couldn't completely cope with my very demanding text and exiguous time-table together. So the book contains some sixty errors, which I've duly notified after more relaxed re-reading and comments from outside sources. Most of these are rather trivial, like square instead of round brackets; but one or two are serious slips. mea maxima culpa. which I'd be more than happy to amend in a second edition.

   What I notice, though. is that the will is there; Yale take their books seriously and strive to perfect them, quite unlike the idle and casual people at Faber who managed to replace one of my most cherished music examples by the legend 'INSERT ART-WORK HERE'. They also concocted a series of amazing misstatements about me and my writings, and lost or threw away my free copies, which I spent nearly a year and much effort in procuring. Exactly the same happened to my good friend John Tyrrell; his latest (Faber) book of Janacek letters also said 'TAKE IN FACSIMILE', and his special publicity leaflet misspelt his name thrice. Anyhow. I've resolved to try harder to eradicate all errors long before proof stage in my next book, whether an edition of Edward III already accepted by Yale in principle, subject to official refereeing, or to the long-delayed Songs of Johannes Brahms, which I should I suppose offer to Faber despite my own annoyance with them and Robert Baldock's kind interest. I'm having lunch with the Faber people next week to see how the land lies; I shall ask, without overmuch optimism, about a further edition of my Wolf book in which all the publisher's errors are duly corrected.

   Meanwhile I'm having an infinitely less agreeable and rewarding correspondence with a Bacon specialist in Brighton, who keeps on referring to 99.99% of the world's readership rather disrespectfully as 'Stratfordians', as if that were the last word in eccentricity. He implores me to 'put him in the firing-line', as I would gladly do (not to say firing-squad) if I had the time and energy. As it is, I've just drawn attention to the curious fact that the name of the Danish prince was altered by a Tudor dramatist of the 1580s from the original Amlodh or Amleth to an unrelated form which happened to be the Stratfordian surname and forename bestowed in baptism on Shakespeare's best friend and hence on his own only son. Can this, I wonder, be pure chance and mere coincidence? So far, the rest is silence. The same applies to reviews apart from today's, enclosed, from dear old A. L. Rowse, who must be well into his no doubt naughty nineties.

   Take care; best, as ever,

   Yours Eric