Literature and Music
The working drafts of a writer or composer reveal the stops and starts, the frustrations and excitements of intense composition. From their numerous gaps, corrections and revisions one can follow the progress of a work, and gauge the ease or difficulty with which it has developed. With some writers and composers now working exclusively on computers, will there be a digital equivalent of working papers such as these?
A step up from working drafts are fair copies, made by authors either for themselves, for their publishers, or for a small audience of friends. If intended as a dedication copy or gift, they can be embellished with personal messages or illustrations.
The earlier a literary work, the slimmer the chance that the author’s original drafts, or ‘foul papers’ as they were once known, have survived. The work may be preserved only in later manuscript copies and printed books; but if it is a classic work, then these manuscripts and books can be objects of rare scholarship and beauty, testaments to the skills of copyists, editors, illustrators, translators, printers, binders and publishers.