Towards the end of June, the editors of Behn’s prose works – which span Behn’s short fiction, translations and long (epistolary) narrative works – met for three days of discussion, presentations and planning. The meeting was generously sponsored by Loughborough University’s Institute of Advanced Studies, and hosted in their on-campus venue, International House (complete with a very sunny patio). With the general editors in attendance, as well as some editorial board members, ten academics from the UK, Europe and North America were able to share ideas relevant to their own editorial roles.

At the start of the week, everyone participated in a short symposium ‘Editing Aphra Behn’s Fictions’ presenting on an aspect of their text and/or research. These recordings are now available to view on the IAS YouTube channel: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

The rest of the event followed a schedule of editorial ‘speed dating’ and problem-solving sessions, alongside plenary sessions exploring the complexities of politics in the Restoration, or the equally complex issue of compositors’ punctuation practices and what to do with them in a twenty-first century edition.

As Dr Maureen Bell (University of Birmingham), a member of our advisory board noted:

What a glorious event! Good weather, great facilities and – best of all – excellent company. We worked, talked and shared so much: ideas, problems, puzzles and – it has to be said – a certain amount of hilarity. For me, as a member of the Editorial Board, the chance to meet the editors in person was a valuable boost to a relationship otherwise conducted, inevitably, only by email.  The variety of our meetings was particularly useful. The talks with individuals and in pairs/smaller groups allowed us to dig into specifics, while the whole group events – including the symposium – gave us a chance to get to know each other as a group and to discuss wider issues. Thank you to everyone involved! 

It was an enlightening, collegiate and generally thought-provoking week, and should have many benefits for the preparation of the edition. Watch this space for more updates about these volumes and others, in coming months!

The Prose Editors and General Editors for The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Aphra Behn (photo: Mel Evans)