ON 1 JULY 1960 a double-column full-length advertisement appeared in The Times Literary Supplement. “The First Complete Edition of the Works of S. T. Coleridge will be published jointly by Rupert Hart-Davis Ltd in London and The Bollingen Foundation in New York under the general editorship of Kathleen Coburn. . .” The new edition was to include everything Coleridge had written except the Notebooks, which Kathleen was already working on and a first instalment of which had been published in 1955, and the Letters, which had begun appearing in the following year in an edition edited by Earl Leslie Griggs and published by the Oxford University Press. The new edition would consist of about twenty volumes, the first of which was promised for the following year, and seventeen titles were listed with their designated editors. The eventual arrangement of titles would be modified, and not all the editors on the list would survive to complete – sometimes even to start on – the job. But it was a beginning. Five of the listed editors were British, four were Americans, two Australians and three Canadians.
There had been talk of calling it the Susquehanna Edition, after the river in the United States, on the banks of which Coleridge had once proposed to set up his ideal state of Pantisocracy. But this must have been thought too American, or perhaps too frivolous, for such an international and so serious a venture, and it came to be called the Collected Coleridge.
Of the three principals, Rupert Hart-Davis, the Bollingen Foundation and Kathleen Coburn, let us start with Kathleen. She was first and foremost a Canadian. The date of the advertisement had not been chosen lightly – it was both Dominion Day and her parents’ wedding day. Canada is a country of the great outdoors, its outdoors being so vastly greater than that of most other countries, and Kathleen was always happiest in the open air. She explored English rivers in a Canadian canoe, was to own a small island in Georgian Bay – that enormous lagoon to the northeast of Lake Huron – and, like Coleridge himself, was great walker. In later years she made regular visits to the Lake District, and Janet Adam Smith has described her following in at least some of Coleridge’s footsteps in the hills with photocopies of his notebooks as a guide. When she made one important discovery she let off steam by bicycling madly around Oxford, and after another she celebrated by immediately going off on a canoeing trip with a friend.
Her father was a Methodist minister (the religious background was to be
helpful in her understanding of Coleridge’s theology), and because the children of ministers were charged only half price she went to Victoria College, Toronto, to which she remained steadfastly loyal for the rest of her life. She fell in love with Coleridge, whom she came to through her work on German philosophers, her particular interests being reflected in her books on him: Inquiring Spirit and The Self-Conscious Imagination. After taking a degree at Victoria she did postgraduate work on Coleridge at Oxford, which gave her “a revelation of the essential interplay in the scholar’s life between high seriousness and lively pleasures”.
It was while at Oxford that she was almost by chance introduced to Geoffrey, 3rd Baron Coleridge, who was descended through a dynasty of 19th-century judges from Colonel James Coleridge, the stuffiest of Coleridge’s elder brothers. The Chanter’s House, his grand home in Ottery St Mary, where Coleridge had been born in the humbler Vicarage, had a magnificent library, but he was more interested in fishing than in books. He was hostile to the intrusion of scholars, but did not consider this young Canadian woman a threat, teased her by calling her a Yank, and nicknamed her “Bookie” for being actually interested in books (when she later brought her fellow-Coleridgian Barbara Rooke, they were, of course, Bookie and Rookie). Kathleen put up with this raillery, grew fond of the Coleridges – and they of her – and was rewarded by finding some 200 books annotated by Coleridge, 55 of his notebooks and files of family letters.
Ernest Hartley Coleridge had published a selection of the Notebooks in 1895, and scholars had been itching to get their hands on them ever since, for they provided a brilliantly diverse ragbag of insights into Coleridge’s life and thought. Kathleen persuaded Lord Coleridge that scholars would leave him alone if the Notebooks were photographed and copies deposited in the British Museum, to whom he eventually sold the originals. In her relentless pursuit of Coleridge materials, in particular the notes to his philosophical lectures, she visited the Rev. G. H. B. Coleridge, a direct descendant of the poet, who was more welcoming to scholars and had further archives. When the British Museum declined buying this latter collection, she arranged for it to be sold to Victoria College in Canada, much to the fury of various British scholars, notably Humphry House, who later relented enough to praise the “unbelievable heroism” of her work on the Notebooks. As Coleridge was apt to start a notebook at each end and to fill in blank spaces later, merely getting the entries in some sort of chronological order was an enormous task, and that even before one had begun to annotate them.
Kathleen was determined to edit them herself. But she could find nobody in Britain who would publish them. Then Herbert Read said, “Why don’t you try Bollingen?” Besides being, as we learn from his tombstone, an “Anarchist and Knight” and, of course, a distinguished art critic, he was adviser to this American Foundation.
Bollingen had been founded and run with Mellon money. Andrew Mellon,
a cold Soames Forsyte character, had amassed a vast fortune by financing American industry, and his son, Paul, spent his life “trying to give money away wisely”. He was educated at Clare College, Cambridge, where he had spent much of his time rowing and riding to hounds – though he was no fool and had some literary talent. His mother was English, and many of his interests were in England and in British art. Bollingen, however, was an inspiration of his first wife, Mary. She suffered from alarmingly severe asthma, and had taken a course of Jungian analysis in the hope of curing it – but in vain. Nevertheless, she did not lose faith in Jung, and the Mellons sought him out in wartime Switzerland.
A literary friend described her as “one of the most amusing women I ever knew, but . . . far from being an intellectual”. Despite – or perhaps because of – this, she was passionately attracted to ideas. She became so obsessed with Jung that she used to go to his lectures in German, though she barely knew the language, and they both found his thought hard enough to follow even in English. On 26 April 1940 Jung took them to visit what he called his “tower retreat” which he had built himself – to some extent with is own hands – in the little village of Bollingen.
On their return to America Mary set up a press which was at first “quite innocent of all professionalism” to publish authorised translations of Jung’s lectures, and, inspired by the serenity of his Swiss retreat, they called it the Bollingen Press. In January 1942 the Press became the Bollingen Foundation, a charity to “stimulate, encourage and develop scholarship in the liberal arts and sciences”, in other words to provide fellowships and sponsor publications of many kinds, but with the emphasis on Jung and, curiously enough, native American culture. The sponsored books were to be produced and published in America and distributed in Britain by Routledge.
Four years later Mary Mellon died after a violent attack of asthma. She was only forty-two. Her husband dutifully carried on the work of the Foundation, which was now being run, with rather more professionalism, albeit of a somewhat Olympian kind, by his old friend Jack Barrett and Barrett’s inseparable assistant, Vaun Gillmor. They were persuaded that Coleridge came within their remit and decided to sponsor the Notebooks.
The first instalment was duly published as Bollingen series XLIX in 1955. It was superlatively edited by Kathleen, every reference followed up, the obscurest of allusions elucidated, and it was so well received that in due course Bollingen agreed to take on the Collected Coleridge as well. She still needed a British publisher, and now she had sponsorship, Rupert Hart-Davis, with whom she had been discussing it for some time, could take it on. She had been delighted when she overheard a conversation in which Rupert was referred to as “one of the best of the young new publishers” at which someone retorted: “what do you mean, one of the best? He is the best.”
Rupert, after a pre-war career with Jonathan Cape, had founded his own firm in 1946 with my father, David Garnett, and Edward Young, designer of
the first Penguin, and I joined the firm in 1949 to work in production. Rupert’s first success was with Gamesmanship, which has now pretty well obliterated Potter’s reputation as the author of Coleridge and S.T.C. and editor of Mrs Coleridge’s letters to Thomas Poole, an illustrated selection of Coleridge’s poems and the Nonesuch one-volume compendious Coleridge. We produced our own version of this series, the Reynard Library, which included Moelwyn Merchant’s Wordsworth. We also published Humphry House’s excellent Clark Lectures on Coleridge (putting him together again after Potter had taken him apart) and an edition of Wordsworth’s Guide to the Lakes illustrated with John Piper’s landscapes constructed of pieces of marbled paper that he had made in his sink. So our credentials for publishing Coleridge were tolerably well established.
There was great optimism about the project. The original announcement promised that the first title would appear in the following year, 1961, and at an early lunch of editors Rupert asked them to raise their glasses to completing the project in the centenary year, 1972. This was to display truly Coleridgian optimism, and as so often with STC himself, the performance lagged far behind the promise.
While Rupert might be the best publisher in London from the authors’ and the readers’ point of view, his books rarely made money. In 1957 he was bailed out by Lionel Fraser, who owned 40% of Heinemann and wanted to groom him to run that firm when its chairman retired. Rupert did not in the least want to run Heinemann. He wanted to publish his own books in his own way, but he was glad to have Heinemann’s financial support. By 1960, when the Collected Coleridge was announced, the marriage with Heinemann had already gone sour, and at the beginning of 1962 Rupert was delighted to be able to obtain a divorce and be taken over by the American publisher, Harcourt, Brace, whose president, William Jovanovich, was looking for a British outlet for his educational books and liked the look of Hart-Davis. But within two years he decided to get rid of us. The British public was not interested in American college books, and the American stock market had been hit by the Cuban missile crisis. He sold us off to Granada, who put in a new managing director, while Rupert retired to his beloved Yorkshire, remaining on the board in a non-executive capacity. Bollingen were shaken, but did not stir from their original plans. Rupert had given the project his blessing, but it was I who had done such practical work as had been possible, devising designs and getting specimens printed, and I was still working in the firm.
Bollingen did not spare their sponsorship. They took a flat for Kathleen in the top of a block in Southampton Row with a view over the roof-tops to the dome of the British Museum, where she had a permanent desk in the North Library. When she was not in London the flat was available for use by other editors. Bollingen also provided a part-time secretary, who worked for Kathleen and me, while I still had a full-time job with Hart-Davis and its nautical subsidiary, Adlard Coles.
Bart Winer, who was soon installed as Associate Editor, seemed at first glance an unlikely choice for the part. He was a New Yorker who frequented the society of European princelings and dined at the best restaurants, and his natural habitat was very different from Kathleen’s. But he gamely visited our Swaledale cottage wearing Rupert’s gumboots – several sizes too big for him – and told us how he had been inveigled into climbing one of the peaks in the Lakes. He stopped exhausted half-way up, only to be shamed into carrying on when he was passed by a man with a wooden leg. His literary work had included editing the 3750 recipes in The Art of French Cookery and writing an illustrated children’s book on Life in the Ancient World. But he had survived being Nabokov’s editor, and he was in fact quite the best copy-editor I have ever known. In Carl Woodring’s words, he “sought perfection and regarded elegance as a minimum requirement”. He made an enormous contribution to the Collected Coleridge. Not only did he ensure strict consistency in all the editorial matter and indeed in the standard structure of the books, he also, as he worked through the series, came to have an extraordinarily detailed knowledge of Coleridgian material. And in this way he was constantly bringing relevant cross-references to the notice of the individual editors.
Although none of the volumes was anywhere near ready for press, Kathleen and the editors were keen to know what the books would look like, and how certain editorial problems were to be dealt with typographically. With Bollingen money behind me I suffered an unheard of embarras de richesse, like the austere young architect who came to my grandfather for advice because his client complained that his plans weren’t expensive enough, what should he do? My grandfather pondered: “What about a dado of sovereigns round the dining-room?”
My basis was austere enough, Monotype Times Roman, a noble face if properly used, well leaded with a few drop initials, some thick/thin rules and the title on the title-page printed in brown in Minerva, a little-known Linotype display face designed by Reynolds Stone. The expense came with the footnotes. Some titles in the series would have three concurrent sets of notes: Coleridge’s own, editor’s notes of textual variants, and editor’s references and explanatory comment. Neither Rupert nor I liked the plan that Kathleen had adopted for the Notebooks of having the relevant notes in a separate companion volume – all very well if you have a big rotary desk like Maria Theresa’s or Freya Stark’s, but awkward for the general reader – and was surprised that she seemed to have chosen it for preference rather than production reasons. So all the notes would be at the foot of the relevant page. Beneath the text, which was in 10 on 12 point, came Coleridge’s own footnotes in 9 on 10 point full measure introduced by asterisks, obeli, etc; then the textual notes in 6 on 7 point, run on and centred, introduced by superior italic letters; and finally the editorial notes in 8 on 9 point double column introduced by superior figures. The numbering of all three sequences of notes was to begin afresh on each
page. Making up these pages from galley proofs is a somewhat tricky job, especially when the notes won’t all fit under the relevant bit of text and some matter has to be overrun on to the next page. They all have to be renumbered afresh each time, and the textual notes rearranged to run consecutively. These were the first of the sovereigns in my dado, and I don’t think I would have put such a burden on the printers if I had realised how thick on the ground the textual notes would be in some of the later volumes.
I did not think that the usual Greek font, Porson, looked well with Times Roman, being small and inclined, so I made a point of using Times Greek Upright. Coleridge was given to crossing things out. If you use a cancellation line straight through the word – let us take Coleridge’s personal adjective, – it looks like this, with the cs indistinguishable from the es. I was therefore delighted and not a little surprised when I managed to persuade Monotype to cut me a special cancelled font of 10-point Times – at their expense:
This avoided the problem – but only for the roman. The italic and the Greek had to shift for themselves and suffered accordingly.
George Whalley, a gentle Canadian professor with a surprisingly distinguished naval war record, was to edit Coleridge’s marginalia, and he was keen to know how they were to be presented. Coleridge was an obsessive annotator of books, putting his comments not only in the margin, but sometimes altering the text itself. The problem was how to distinguish what George called the “textus” from Coleridge’s comment. We looked at various schemes, now long forgotten, but I think one of them tried without success to use drop initial capitals, before I had what I thought was the brainwave of printing the textus in black and everything else in a second colour. This makes it immediately clear what is what. I had Butler and Tanner produce specimen pages, and these were warmly approved by George and most importantly by Jack Barrett of Bollingen, as well as by Kathleen, who did not tell me that she had used the same two-colour system thirty years earlier to transcribe some of Coleridge’s marginalia in the British Museum.
Barbara Rooke (“Rookie” to the Coleridges) had already written a thesis on Coleridge’s journal, The Friend, of 1818 for the University of Hong Kong, and so it was the first title that Bart had ready for press. Quite apart from the editorial decision to print the whole of the earlier version of 1809–10 and 1812 as an appendix in a second volume, I continued to put sovereigns on the dado. The binding in buckram had bevelled edges, Coleridge’s seal blocked in gold on the front board, coloured tops, headbands and a ribbon place-marker. The jacket was of an expensive grey-brown paper with the title screen-printed in white (instead of being reversed out of brown printed on white paper), and the whole thing was in a slip-case.
With Rupert effectively gone, I was growing increasingly unhappy under the new regime at Hart-Davis. In the autumn of 1965 I applied to be head of the Athlone Press, the small academic publishing house of London University.
Kathleen told them that she would try to see that they got the Collected Coleridge if they took me on, but I did not get the job. All the same I was much encouraged by her warm reference when only a few months later I was sacked by the new managing director of Hart-Davis. With two titles in production, though none yet published, there was a moment’s panic about the future of the series, for Kathleen was determined that I should continue to handle its production, while my erstwhile bosses blithely assumed that they could do so without me. Kathleen even had the wild idea that Rupert and I should set up a firm, Hart-Davis and Garnett, dedicated solely to publishing the Collected Coleridge. Bollingen were prodded into action and in due course they handed over production to Routledge. At the same time it was arranged that I should continue to be the designer and advise on production, while working full-time in my new editorial job at Macmillan. This was not a very satisfactory arrangement, because Kathleen and Bart behaved as if I was still in charge, when all I could do was to compile instructions to the printer and hope that Routledge would pass them on. It was hard to control things at arm’s length, and as Bart remarked, a little unfairly, in March 1969, “Routledge do little enough except foul things up.” Nevertheless two months later the first of the series, the two volumes of The Friend, was published at what now seems the ridiculously low price of £7 10s. The edition was welcomed as “scholarly without being in the least pedantic”, and I. A. Richards called the whole venture “one of the noblest, most arduous and promising enterprises of our time”. L. C. Knights was no less enthusiastic but complained about the high price, while I was particularly delighted to receive a telegram:
“CONGRATULATIONS FIRST ON THE ARRIVAL OF THE FRIEND SECOND ON ITS BEING PERFECTLY BEAUTIFUL BARKER FAIRLEY SAYS MORE BEAUTIFUL THAN ANY SET HE HAS SEEN HOPING TO SEE YOU SOON AFTER EIGHTEEN MAY LOVE KATHLEEN”.
But before The Watchman could be published we had another shock: Bollingen was effectively closing down.
Jack Barrett had reached retirement age. Paul Mellon had long since lost interest in Jung and the Bollingen, and his second wife was more concerned with gardens and architecture, while he indulged his passion for pictures and racehorses. There was also a threat to change the United States tax laws concerning gifts to charitable foundations. Wright Patman, a hostile Congressman, described the Bollingen as “an organization that seems to specialize in sending thousands of dollars abroad for the development of trivia into nonsense”. Paul Mellon decided to wind it up – at least to make no new fellows and take on no new titles. The Collected Coleridge, the Coleridge Notebooks and a few other projects already in hand would continue. They were passed over to Princeton University Press together with “roughly two million dollars” that was left in the Bollingen kitty, but as the head of the University Press put it, “with no expectation of further financial reserves beyond the fund
provided”. I have been told that in the end Princeton may have received some further subvention from Mellon, but that it was conditional upon the series being “substantially complete” – whatever that means – by the end of the century.
I had recently got some new specimens of the two-colour Marginalia from Cambridge University Press, and George Whalley and I had sorted out a lot of minor details of design. A two-colour page had been included in a recent advertising leaflet from Bollingen. But then Herbert S. Bailey jr, the head of Princeton University Press, called the whole scheme in question. He said it was risky. He was naturally concerned about costs, but he preferred to argue about the technical difficulty of getting the two colours in register, both in origination and in printing. I thought these fears were quite groundless, after all, the largest single printing job in Britain, the AA Book, was printed in two colours throughout, as was the Guide Michelin. Meanwhile, on his own initiative, without telling me – let alone Kathleen or George Whalley – Bailey had the Press’s own designers attempt a one-colour design, but they did not come up with anything satisfactory.
In the middle of all this we had another change in the set-up. In 1973 – to my and Bart’s relief – Princeton decided to dispense with Routledge’s services in producing the Collected Coleridge, such as they were. I would not have been surprised if Bailey had been glad to have dispensed with mine too (and as I was now on the board of Macmillan, I had a lot else on my plate), but I did not want to let Kathleen down, and it was agreed that I should remain as unofficial production manager, now dealing directly with Princeton.
Then Kathleen thought she had found a solution to the impasse over the Marginalia in Israel. She had a penchant for that country which even then I thought a little strange. There she met an enterprising printer who ran a press which did work for Oxford University Press. They quoted a price that was cheap enough to satisfy Bailey, and rather to my surprise he agreed to go ahead in two colours with them. But the specimen page they sent was wrong in almost every respect, so when it came to the point they were not up to scratch. Bart thought it so bad that he wondered why they had even bothered to send it. Moreover printing in Israel really was risky, if only for political reasons. So we were back to square one.
I tried four other printers in Britain, but with no certainty that even if they did produce a better price, it would be acceptable to Bailey. Eventually in 1976 I agreed to have a go at a one-colour design with the marginalia ringed in black instead of being printed in red. It was much less elegant. But it worked after a fashion. The printing was, of course, cheaper, but the origination was more expensive, and it would make the extent slightly longer. At last in September 1976, seven years after Princeton’s intervention and thirteen years after the original decision was taken, Bailey agreed to print in two colours at Cambridge University Press. George could finally put his work in hand. The first volume of the Marginalia came out in 1980. It was welcomed
by the critics, who said that there was no area of Coleridge’s life or work on which it would leave our view unchanged. And I was pleased that it was praised for the “exemplary clarity” of its presentation, and by George’s kind remarks in the Foreword. For many years I have been prouder of designing the two-colour Marginalia than of any other book I have done. Only now do I realise that the idea was obvious and not original, and that what I really should have been proud of was for obstinately sticking to my guns over all those years of opposition.
By this time I had seen six other titles through to publication: The Friend and The Watchman, both printed by Butler and Tanner, Lectures 1795: On Politics and Religion and Lay Sermons, printed by Cambridge University Press, and On the Constitution of the Church and State and Essays on His Times (being his contributions to The Courier and The Morning Post), which were set at Cambridge, but printed from film at Princeton. The first two had their full complement of sovereigns on the dining-room dado, but Princeton had no funds for such luxuries, and after that they rapidly fell off. Slip-cases were the first to go, then bevelled boards, marker ribbons, coloured tops, screen printed jackets; the special cancelled font of Times, and even the Minerva on the title-page all went. But while it was possible to cut back some of the production standards, the editing became ever more thorough. The length of the volumes, which was harder for the publisher to control, continued to grow. Kathleen and George Whalley agreed at some point to go through the Marginalia and cut it by a quarter, but I think George died before much could be done, and this work, announced as three volumes, eventually grew to six! The second volume of the Marginalia ran to no less than 1239 pages, so that when the standard binding brasses were put on the spine (which I had designed for books a third of that length) they looked like two postage stamps on the backside of an elephant.
After the Logic in 1981 and the first three volumes of the Marginalia the books were both typeset and printed by Princeton, and I left them to get on with it and thought, quite wrongly as it turned out, that my dealings with the Collected Coleridge were over. I wish now that I had had a hand in Aids to Reflection. Many readers will not notice the absence of proper ligatures in the title on the jacket and title-page, but the textual notes are another matter. When I did the original specimens for the series I did not envisage that the textual notes would be more than very occasional, so the job of making them up into a run-on block at the foot of the page did not seem too arduous. But in Aids to Reflection they are so thick on the ground that the printer soon got sick of making them up and left them stacked up in a column in the centre, where they dominate the page and waste a lot of space. John Beer’s magnificently thorough editing deserved better.
It had originally been intended that the edition should conclude with a two-volume general index, which was to provide a conspectus of the whole of Coleridge’s thought (other than in the letters and the Notebooks). I think it was
George Whalley who had agreed to undertake this grandiose project, though, goodness knows, he had enough on his plate, having taken on both the Marginalia and The Poetical Works. The individual volumes were to have their own separate indexes, which Kathleen had meant to be relatively brief. But two days before Christmas 1968 she wrote to me:
I do not agree with Bart about the type of index required for the separate volumes, but in view of the pressures of time and other considerations I have decided to concede the point and leave to Bart the entire supervision of the volumes indexes. . . . The final index will be a different matter.
Bart did the job with his usual thoroughness, identifying every person mentioned with their dates, and enjoying himself with the details – as in his entry: “British: asses led by the nose 111”. George Whalley died in 1983, with the Marginalia far from complete, and a memorial tribute appeared in the second volume. The general index, however, remained on the list of forth-coming volumes until 1990, after which it was quietly dropped.
Kathleen had had equally grandiose plans for the Notebooks, the individual volumes of which only had fairly concise indexes of people, places and selected titles. But when she actually tried to make a subject index herself she found the task impossible, and therefore arranged for a concordance – an index of words, not of subjects – to be made by two nuns at Stanbrook, the Benedictine Abbey near Worcester. In the summer of 1982 she asked me to come down to Stanbrook to meet the two nuns, Dame Teresa and Dame Frideswide. I found them charming and eagerly engaged in picking out key words in the Notebooks and typing their contextual phrases on to cards. Kathleen wanted me to advise whether the job couldn’t be better done on a computer. Of course it could, and with the help of more knowledgeable colleagues at Macmillan, for I knew little of the subject, I advised that the nuns should key in the entries and that an Oxford computer bureau should process them into proper concordance form.
But I was very doubtful about the point of the whole exercise. I learnt that there were five thousand pages of text (presumably in typescript, for the final volumes were not yet published) quite apart from the voluminous explanatory notes, which were not being indexed, though many of Coleridge’s entries were hardly comprehensible without them. Princeton was paying $8 a page for the work (and Dame Teresa thought the fee should be increased), so they would eventually have to fork out at least $40,000. I calculated that the finished concordance would run to some 3000 pages if set in the style of the Collected Coleridge indexes, but might be compressed to 2000. I suggested to Kathleen various ways in which the concordance might be better organised so that one could find what one was looking for, and wrote to her in August about my more serious misgivings about the usefulness of concordances:
For instance, you won’t get very far if you try to find out from Bartlett’s Concordance to Shakespeare what Hamlet has to say about suicide. No “suicide” of course, the word not yet current; nor “self-murder”; if you’re clever you try “self-slaughter” – two references, neither to the “To be or not to be” speech. It does not include the word “kill”; and “die” and “death” are both associated with “sleep”, which does not particularly suggest suicide.
Of course Shakespeare’s language is much more metaphorical and allusive than Coleridge’s. But there must be many instances where he says something important or memorable, and the subject of his remarks does not actually appear in the words used. For instance, if you are looking for a remark about the English weather, will you know to look it up under “summer” or “severity”?
I feared that it would only be when all the work was done that it would be clear that it had been a waste of time. And so it has proved, though not exactly as I had foretold. Princeton accepted my report and provided the nuns with a computer. Kathleen retreated to her island on Georgian Bay and ignored my qualms. The two dear Dames got to work, taking turns on the computer, Dame Teresa becoming something of an expert on the subject. The work went on intermittently for fourteen years, and was only abandoned in 1996, by which time it was obvious to Dame Teresa that conventional concordances were a thing of the past. It was now far simpler to put the whole text on to a CD and use a computer search programme. By that time Kathleen and her assistant on the Notebooks, Merton Christiansen, were both dead, and the job of completing the final instalment of the Notebooks has gone to Anthony Harding. It seems extraordinary that no one could tell him anything about the Stanbrook concordance. Neither Bollingen nor Princeton were able to fund him to do a proper subject-index. So he has applied with colleagues for a grant to make an electronic index, not a concordance, but what he calls “a properly structured index, with proper cross-referencing and searchable by various different methods”. I hope he succeeds.
Meanwhile in June 1984 Kathleen had asked me if I could help with some problems that had cropped up with The Poetical Works. Less than a month later she had serious car accident, and before she had fully recovered she had another one, which left her pretty much incapacitated for the rest of her life until she died in 1991. She was terribly missed as a very faithful friend and the moving spirit behind the whole enterprise. When Bart Winer died quite suddenly and unexpectedly in 1989, it looked as if it might all stagger to a halt. It didn’t, thanks largely to the benign efforts of Elizabeth Powers, the editor at Princeton who was responsible for Coleridge, but we all missed Kathleen’s authority and Bart’s long experience.
There was still the matter of The Poetical Works – so called because they include plays as well as poems. They had originally been assigned – like so much else – to George Whalley, but Jim Mays had taken them over.
He had done an enormous amount of work on them and unearthed some 300 poems not included in Ernest Hartley Coleridge’s edition of 1912, as well as 133 possibles. He was somewhat embarrassed in February 1995 when one of his students made a sensational story out of this in the Sunday Times, saying incidentally that the book would be published later that year. It did not actually appear until six and a half years later.
Jim had planned a variorum, not in the conventional style, in which a continuous text has variants printed at the foot of the page. Jim wanted to show the development of the poem, with each line followed by the variants below it. This worked well. But as it was impossible to read the poem through from start to finish, he had to provide a separate “reading text” of what he considered to be the “best” text in a volume of its own. The variorum was to be in the next volume, and the plays (if they could be squashed into it) in the final one. In the variorum he had confined the main sequence to verbal changes. Changes in spelling and punctuation were in another column alongside. This suited his computer. But there was no way that I could fit this into a standard Collected Coleridge page. Should we go for a larger page? I hoped not. Put the two columns on facing pages? Very wasteful of space. Turn the book on its side? God forbid!
So I set out to make some simplifications. Before each line – and successive variant – Jim had listed the manuscripts (M1, M2, M3, etc) and the printed sources (P1, P2, P3, etc) in which it occurred. If we used upright arabic figures for the manuscripts and sloping figures for the printed sources, the Ms and Ps could be discarded. There were further simplifications that could be made. Coleridge loved symbols. Here is George Whalley’s note of some that occur in the Marginalia: If we could have one symbol for all versions and another symbol for all versions except the citation would be much clearer and more concise. Fortunately Jim liked these ideas, though I think they involved him in a good deal of retyping, for Princeton was determined that his keyboarding could be used for the final work and that it would not have to be retyped yet again. Now it was just a long haul for Jim, and especially for John Waś, who had taken over the copy-editing of The Poetical Works that Bart would have done, and who recorded all the complexities of the copy on the computer himself. This provided a more accurate text than if it had all been reset by professionals, but I think that they might have produced a more compact result. At all events The Poetical Works has doubled in length to six volumes from the original three (I always knew that despite Kathleen’s pleas the plays would never go into one volume). They finally came out in the autumn of 2001 at $600 the set – a far cry from the two-volume Friend at £7.10s.
Meanwhile another six titles had appeared with no intervention from me, the latest being Shorter Works and Fragments, as well as a final instalment of the Marginalia containing a massive index to all six volumes, the result of labours far exceeding all twelve of Hercules’s.
And now at last we have the Opus Maximum. Even in my day it did not promise to be easy, and the question, “What shall we do about the Opus Maximum?” became “What shall we do about the Opus Maximum?” Well, whatever had to be done has now been done, and the Collected Coleridge is finally complete, if not quite by the end of the Twentieth Century.
Why has it all taken so long? There are several reasons. As a matter of principle Kathleen and Bollingen insisted that the editors should have only nominal honoraria and be doing the work for love and academic reputation rather than for money. So they were usually up to their necks in other jobs and had to fit in the work as best they could. And though I was paid a fee per volume, the same was true of me. Kathleen and Bart were the only ones to have regular salaries. The actual labour was enormous and some of it tedious in the extreme. At a rough calculation Aids to Reflection contains over 2000 textual notes and at least 6000 index entries. It was much easier to compile the editorial notes when one could refer to earlier volumes of the Collected Coleridge, which had already been thoroughly edited, rather than to some inadequate previous edition, let alone to manuscripts. So there could be a sort of slow bicycle race among editors, especially of the later works, to see who would come last. Bart’s thorough copy-editing took time, and his insistence upon making the indexes himself – and making them very fully – took up even more. And such things as my long battle with Bailey caused even more delays.
But, after all, was it really such a long time? In 1955, five years before the Collected Coleridge was announced, Rupert Hart-Davis had arranged for the Pilgrim Trust to fund a new edition of Dickens’s Letters. After Rupert left the helm of his firm it went to Oxford University Press. The final volume came out in the spring of 2002, beating the Collected Coleridge by a short head. And it is only twelve volumes to the Coleridge’s thirty-four.
So now at last the whole saga of the Collected Coleridge has surely fulfilled I. A. Richards’s hopes. It has certainly been arduous, and I would like to think that has been noble, and as to its utility I can only quote John Beer: “Each successive volume opened out a new dimension, not simply of Coleridge’s mind, but of the times in which he lived. Taken together they have become one of the great resource centres of the Romantic period as a whole.” And for that we must be profoundly grateful to all those who have spent so many years devoting their labour and their expertise to this great project, and most particularly to Kathleen and Bart whose vision and dedication set the standards for everyone else.
 This is an edited version of an illustrated talk given to the Coleridge Summer Conference on 20 July 2002. Besides my own files, it is based on Kathleen Coburn’s In Pursuit of Coleridge (1977), Paul Mellon’s Reflections in a Silver Spoon (1992), William McGuire’s Bollingen: an Adventure in Collecting the Past (1982), and information given me by John Beer, Robert C. Brandeis, Freda Gough, Anthony J. Harding, Heather Jackson, Jim Mays and Dame Teresa Rodrigues, to all of whom I am deeply grateful.