Transcription Conventions

In the transcriptions for the Pulter Project, we preserve as many details of the original material, textual, and graphic properties of Hester Pulter’s manuscript verse as we have found practical. Below we enumerate many of those details, not least so that our working procedures may be understood and checked for consistency. We appreciate corrections from readers, which we will strive to integrate in a timely way. Exceptions to these rules are detailed in notes to individual poems.

  1. Whenever practical and possible, original spelling, punctuation, capitalization, lineation, spacing between words and lines, and indentation are maintained. Abbreviations and brevigraphs are not expanded; superscript and subscript representations are retained; and medieval thorns, which resemble modern “y”s, are transcribed as such. Titles are, however, justified to the left margin.

  2. While we attempt to record every letter, we do not consider the superscript mark resembling “e” (a mark the main scribe used frequently) to be a separate letter; it appears to be a variation on the kind of flourish sometimes appended to minuscule “e” in secretary hand. Since we consider this mark part of the preceding letter and since readers might misidentify this graphic mark as a separate letter, we do not record it separately.

    At times, it has proven impossible to discern a difference between certain letter forms, such as “I” and “J” or “u” and “v.” In these cases, we select the letter form that best corresponds with modern spelling and pronunciation (not “Iury” but “Jury,” for instance).

    Similarly, at times it is difficult to discern the difference between majuscule “S,” minuscule “s,” and the elongated version of the same letter: “ſ.” In other manuscripts using “ſ,” it often has a descender (below the line); we feel it is often used here without that descender, and is thus easily confused with majuscule “S.” We have, with an eye to modern usage, reserved majuscule “S” for the start of words, rather than the middle or end.

    Likewise, the main scribe appears to use two forms of majuscule “R”; and a shorter version of one of these also appears at times as a minuscule. In such cases, we have made decisions based on the relative ascension of the letter to determine if it is majuscule or minuscule.

  3. Page numbers from the manuscript that are contemporary with the initial inscription (those in ink) are retained, though we have located these uniformly on the left; the same is true of emblem numbers, which we have uniformly placed on the left in the line before the first line of the poem. We do not transcribe the numbers in pencil added by librarians at Leeds. Foliation is centered, in square brackets to indicate that this is our addition. Catchwords, which are frequently but not consistently used by the main scribe, are retained. Although we do not attempt to represent accurately the amount of space between the top of a sheet or a title and the start of the text, we note when a poem does not begin at the top of a page, or when there is unusual blank space separating poems.

  4. Cancelled words are struck-through. If the manner of cancellation is anything other than a single horizontal line (e.g., if it is a double or triple line, a vertical or diagonal line, scribbled, erased, or blotted), that manner is addressed in a note. When cancelled words or letters are still fully or partially legible, the legible words and letters are either included in the main text and struck-through or, if necessary (especially when written over by other legible letters), described in a note. When cancelled letters are illegible, a single struck-through question mark appears in the main text, with an explanation in a note if necessary.

  5. When the transcriber is unable to decide between multiple readings, the various possibilities are noted.

  6. Interlinear insertions are represented in superscript or subscript, as in the manuscript; they are marked by a caret (^) or any other insertion symbol present. In many cases, for instance, a back slash (\) appears below the line where a superscript insertion occurs, and another appears above the line immediately after the insertion. At times, a superscript insertion appears directly above other words, rather than between or beside them; these cases are noted.

  7. Lines at the ends of poems are described in square brackets.

  8. Changes in hand and ink are noted where they are obvious or likely.

  9. Marginalia is transcribed in a note, with the note’s superscript numeral placed at the end of a word as close as possible to the original location of the marginal item.

  10. When the same title is used for more than one poem (as with “Aurora,” e.g.), poems are distinguished by a numeral in square brackets: e.g., “Aurora [1],” “Aurora [2],” and so on.

  11. Other than superscript numerals keyed to footnotes, and forward slashes used to indicate line breaks, material not in the original manuscript is enclosed in square brackets or described in footnotes.

  12. We note when the hand changes from that of the main scribe (H1); we consider H2 to be probably that of Hester Pulter, and H3 to be an eighteenth-century hand.

Elemental Edition Conventions

The elemental edition is primarily designed for those who are giving the poems a first read or who wish to have minimal scholarly annotations. Current standard American spelling (including for proper nouns) is therefore applied to the poems; we rely on merriam-webster.com to determine spelling. Punctuation reflects current usage and highlights syntax which might otherwise be obscure. We do not, however, modernize outmoded but familiar pronouns (“thou” and “thy,” for instance), and do not expand contractions when familiar (like “’tis” for “it is”) or when required by the meter (like “hold’st” for “holdest”). We do not modernize grammar (such as forcing agreement of singular and plural nouns and verbs, or altering “who” to “whom”) where the sense in the manuscript remains easily legible. The aim of these choices is to make Pulter’s text accessible to the largest variety of readers. The elemental edition is the result of intensive editorial intervention at the level of the text, but with fewer interpretative notes that call attention to that intervention. It is through the act of comparison with the amplified edition that the reader can fully understand the way that poems come to life for readers as a product of a particular editor’s handiwork—how poems are “made” for readers by their authors but also by other textual producers.

This edition is also designed to allow a reading minimally interrupted by notes, and with a minimum of interpretative framing by the editors. Headnotes offer a brief “way in” to the poem’s unique qualities and connections with other verse by Pulter or her contemporaries. Glosses provide synonyms for obsolete and uncommon words, as well as ones Pulter uses in unusual ways. Other notes aim primarily to identify people and places, and, if necessary, to clarify other matters. We rely (without citation) primarily on the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the Oxford Reference database, and the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible in glosses and notes. When we rely on Alice Eardley’s 2014 edition, we provide her name as a shorthand citation (“Eardley”); other sources are are cited in full.

The result is an edition we consider to be “elemental,” a basic springboard for further work on Pulter’s poetry: for different representations of her verse, such as the “amplified editions” on this site. Part of the impetus for The Pulter Project is to showcase the various ways in which a poem comes into being through processes of readerly and editorial discovery, interpretation, and representation. We encourage users of the site to compare the versions of the poems presented (facsimile images, transcriptions, elemental and amplified editions), to reflect on their different uses and values, to reflect on how different editorial approaches and practices “make” the poems differently, and to add their own “amplifications” to the collection.

Not all editorial decisions can be perfectly regular; in some poems we have made judgment calls on a case-by-case basis. When the rationale for such decisions is not obvious, we have aimed to articulate it in our notes. Further details about our editorial procedures may be found below.

  1. We do not include catchwords, lines drawn at the ends of poems, or any decorative graphic elements in this edition.
  2. We do not include page numbering from the manuscript in this edition.
  3. We left-justify poem titles and main text, and regularize other spacing.
  4. We take a modern approach to capitalization, except when an item appears to require a majuscule as part of its personification. We capitalize nominal and pronominal references to the Christian deity.
  5. When we make a major intervention in the manuscript text, we add a note to this effect.
  6. We generally take our titles from the manuscript, although we have shortened some. When a non-emblem poem has no title, we use the first line as a title (and capitalize it); for emblems, we have created a modern title from the poem that is paired with the emblem number.

Amplified Edition Conventions

Each amplified edition is shaped by unique conventions devised by its editor and articulated in an accompanying “Editorial Note.”

Elements of the page: editorial note
“Editorial note” clickable icon (left) and a fragment of an example editorial note display (right).

TEI Encoding Conventions

The adoption of standards developed by the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) greatly facilitates the organization and production of The Pulter Project. At the heart of this online resource is a carefully curated corpus of documents encoded in XML format, following the specifications of the latest version of TEI, P5.

A single XML document for each poem contains information about the original manuscript transcription as well as each of the critical editions. Information for these discrete works is aligned and merged using a parallel segmentation approach and the critical apparatus functions afforded by TEI. From these unified sources, transformations of the XML content enable the rendering of the various interactive representations of each poem in The Pulter Project.

XML markup fragment illustrating parallel segmentation technique.
A fragment of XML markup illustrating the parallel segmentation technique. Line 1 of The Eclipse.

The stylistic approach used to encode project documents descends from similar models originally developed by Susan Schreibman and others for use with Versioning Machine, a web-based editions comparison tool. Encoding of the poem documents follows most typical TEI conventions, with some project-specific approaches.