If anyone is keen to know more about Jonson and his lengthy ramble, our edition of the ‘Foot Voyage was published in 2015 – initially available only in hardback and as an e-book at the usual eye-watering prices for academic works, though we expect a cheaper paperback to be available before too long. The edition contains a fully annotated text, an introduction that explores some of the whys and wherefores of the manuscript, as well as three lengthy essays setting the walk in different aspects of its context. If you’re after a much shorter overview, the original TLS article in which the discovery of the manuscript was announced is now freely available online too, though this was written before we’d had a chance to undertake much of our detailed research.
There are plenty of other resources out there for anyone keen to find out more about Jonson. His Wikipedia page, unfortunately, is not all that reliable and needs editing – must get round to that some day. Anyone with library access and an interest in Jonson’s life and times ought to take a look at Ian Donaldson’s article on him for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, which also has the merit of providing a taster for the feast that is his masterly biography, Ben Jonson: A Life, first published in 2011 and widely hailed as definitive.
The other exceptional new resource is the Cambridge Edition of the Works of Ben Jonson, a major collaborative achievement overseen by Donaldson, Martin Butler and David Bevington. This contains modernised, fully annotated texts of all Jonson’s confirmed writings, spread out in chronological order over 7 volumes. Yet these are only the start – the hard copy has been joined by an online edition, featuring ‘digital images and old-spelling transcriptions of the early print witnesses and major manuscripts, and searchable databases containing all the information necessary for full study of Jonson: the Dubia, Life Records, Textual Essays, Literary Record, Library List, Performance Archive, Masque Archive, Music Edition’ as well as an original spelling edition of the ‘Foot Voyage’. It’s also worth noting that an annotated listing of all Jonsonian manuscripts is available online in the Catalogue of English Literary Manuscripts.
There are several overviews and essay collections aimed at the enquiring reader. Eugene Giddens’ Oxford Handbook of Ben Jonson Studies will offer a series of excellent, detailed and up to the minute essays on all matters Jonsonian. Ben Jonson in Context, edited by Julie Sanders, came out in 2010 and features 38 short essays on Jonson’s life, works, and times. The Cambridge Companion to Ben Jonson, first published in 2000, is now available chapter-by-chapter online. Both James Loxley and Sean McEvoy have published brief overviews (here and here). Jonson also has his own critical journal, ‘devoted to the study of Ben Jonson and the culture in which his manifold literary efforts thrived’. All of these publications will help guide you to more specialised work that will develop and deepen your understanding of this complicated but compelling writer, and of the often bewitching, sometimes bewildering, poetry, plays and masques that made his name.