Ioppolos important study reconsiders the routinely accepted assumption that dramatists manuscripts went into print by a linear progression through the acting company, the bookkeeper, the censor, the theatre audience and the printer. Her own work on more than a hundred manuscripts, authors foul papers, fair copies, authorial or non-authorial, as well as the Henslowe papers and numerous other documents, has convinced her that the conventional, often repeated narrative rests on most textual critics practically exclusive reliance on printed texts and the almost universal dismissal of authors manuscripts as crucial textual witnesses. One of the reasons for this state of affairs may be the absence of any autograph manuscripts by William Shakespeare (a possible exception may be the famous passage from Sir Thomas More); yet her own most impressive archival researches allow at least some very plausible interferences about Shakespeares handling of his own texts, their transmission and publication.
Starting with a fresh examination of Henslowes role in the acquisition of play-texts and general dealing with his authors. Ioppolo can argue convincingly that Elizabethan dramatists and their successors were by no means regarded as inferior drudges, but, like the actors, book-keepers and other people working for the theatre were treated as indispensable and respected members of a community that depended on the success of a common endeavour. Contrary to frequent assumptions, these authors did not relinquish any interest in their own product once it was handed over to the company, but were consulted when any changes were required, when their text was to be adapted or problems with co-authors arose. It seems clear that dramatists were treated by Henslowe with a certain amount of deference and, as shown in the case of Robert Daborne and others, accommodated in case of personal difficulty.