|Abstract: ||In 2001 a research and editorial project at the Department of English and Fisher Library SETIS at the University of Sydney is approaching completion. This collaborative project, funded in 1992 and in 2000 by ARC Small Grants, is an electronic edition from the manuscripts in the Abinger Collection of Shelley-Godwin papers deposited at the Bodleian Library , Oxford, of Mary Shelley's 'Life of William Godwin', a biography of her late father written between 1836 and 1840, and never published. Only the nucleus of Abinger manuscripts labelled 'Mary Shelley', 'William Godwin', or 'Miscellaneous', is in Mary Shelley's holograph, or in that of her collaborator and stepmother, Mary Jane Godwin. This indicates (a) Shelley's biographical technique of collage, borrowed by her with due acknowledgments, from Hazlitt's Memoirs of Thomas Holcroft (1816), which gives the man and author Holcroft "in his own words" and in those of his contemporaries, as far as possible; and (b) the vicissitudes of the Shelley-Godwin papers since Mary Shelley's death in 1851. Letters and documents in Godwin's and other hands, copied and quoted by Mary Shelley in her holograph script, or attached to it by pins, have at some past time been removed to other Bodleian folders, often with original signatures cut off, and what the material wanderings of sheets of paper began, prevailing Victorian notions of censorship compounded.
In successive visits to Oxford from 1992 to 1998 Dr Judith Barbour transcribed the Bodleian manuscripts and from 1992 to 1995, Dr Clara Tuite, then a research assistant to the project, transcribed microfilm reels in the Duke University, Durham N.C. collection of Abinger Shelley-Godwin MSS. Until 1995, ongoing negotiations with Oxford University Press envisaged publishing a hardback printed edition of the wordprocessor script but (as the characteristics of Mary Shelley's 'Life of Godwin' outlined in our first paragraph will readily confirm) print publication of such an informal and layered text proved "uncommercial". The establishment of Fisher Library's SETIS, with its expertise in research, digital coding and scholarly editing, offered to resolve these editorial and publication difficulties at one hit.
The wordprocessor script had presented the text page by manuscript page, indicating Bodleian shelf-number in the Abinger Shelley-Godwin MS archive, and distinguishing Mary Shelley's holograph, autograph, marginalia, and numbering systems typographically, while the endnotes contained a conventional set of reference information and bibliographical data, as for a printed edition. In 2001 the editorial team proceeded to the systematic coding of data, watermarks, paper types, handwritings, reel and shelf numbers, page numbers and numbered page sequences, cancellations, interpolations, marginalia, Bodleian rubrics and cataloguing. In this culminating phase of our project, Judith Barbour, Creagh Cole, Margaret Harris, and Clara Tuite have invited Gerard Goggin to present our project to the September Conference of "Computing Arts".|