Spelling-Analysis and Ralph Crane: a Preparatory Study of His Life, Spelling, and Scribal Habits
Ralph Crane first came to learned attention in recent years when Sir Walter Greg in 1925 suggested that the transcripts of Fletcher and Massinger's 'Sir John van Olden Barnavelt' and Middleton's 'The Witch' were the same handwriting. Shortly afterwards, Profession F. P. Wilson published an article showing that both these plays were the work of the scribe Ralph Crane, who professed to have had some employment with the King's Company, and who was also the scribe of Fletcher's 'Demetrius and Enanthe', the Lansdown and Malone MSS. of Middleton's 'A Game at Chesse', and several poetical manuscripts. Professor Wilson recounted the sketchy details of Crane's life and examined some featuers of his transcript dwelling, naturally enough, mainly on the features of the dramatic MSS. Much of his work need not be repeated here, especially that on the textual features of the dramatic MSS. and the discussion of the copy from which they might be derived. On certain general points there are necessary reservations to be made in the light of more recent scholarship; fuller discussion of several questionable conclusions will be made in the final chapter.