Editorial Introduction to The Were-Wolf

“…the mode of existence of a literary work of art is fundamentally social.”
(McGann, A Critique of Modern Textual Criticism, 8)

This open-access scholarly edition of Clemence Housman’s illustrated novella, The Were-Wolf, aims to make this little-known work widely available for classroom study as well as for individual reading and research. Our source text is the first edition, published by John Lane at The Bodley Head in 1896; our physical copy, which was owned by E. K. Muspratt, Esq., is housed in the Ryerson University Library Archives and Special Collections in Toronto. Housman originally published her story in Atalanta, a magazine for girls, in 1890. We elected to use the Bodley Head edition because Clemence and her brother Laurence Housman, who was a Bodley Head book designer and artist, produced it collaboratively. Laurence designed the bindings, decorated title page, initial letter, and six full-page illustrations for The Were-Wolf. A skilled wood engraver, Clemence engraved all her brother’s drawings for reproduction in the edition.

A Note on the Text

Our edition of The Were-Wolf seeks to honour its collaborative, multimodal expression and the bibliographic features that contribute to its meaning(s). In preparing the copy-text for digital publication, we modified COVE semantic markup and CSS where needed so that the remediated text would represent, as closely as possible, the first edition’s sequence of textual narrative and visual image, layout, and pagination. Using OMEKA software, we created The Were-Wolf Gallery as an image repository; this enabled us to embed the urls of each image in our html markup. This method also adds functionality to the edition by allowing users to double click on the image and zoom in to observe details and discover metadata; our verbal descriptions ensure that visually impaired users have access to the whole text, including the illustrations. It should be noted that the editorial decision to include illustrations where they appear in the Bodley Head edition results in some skipped pages in the digital edition. These gaps represent the fly-title page preceding each full-page illustration and the blank versos of both fly-title and image, which The Bodley Head edition includes in the total page count but does not number. The digital edition has not reproduced these blank pages. Instead, we have marked all apparently missing pages with a textual note, highlighted in green. For clarity of reference between the digital object and its physical referent, and for classroom study and citation, we wished to retain the original pagination in the COVE edition.

Annotations and Editorial Apparatus

We have used the following category filters to annotate The Were-Wolf: linguistic, textual, historical, cultural, and interpretive. Linguistic filters include glosses on words not in common usage, foreign words, and names. Textual filters identify the location and reason for missing pages, and any substantive variants (words and phrases) in the Atalanta magazine version of Housman’s story. Cultural tags include notes relating to the 1890s context for the work, while historical tags annotate details relating to its setting in medieval Scandinavia. Interpretive tags include all illustrations, intertextual allusions, folklore references, and generic conventions.

In addition to annotations of the text and its illustrations, the COVE Were-Wolf provides a context for further study in the form of a timeline chronicling events relevant to the life and work of its producers, and events related to its subject: werewolf fiction. The timeline and annotations correlate to an Editorial Apparatus of scholarly essays, where users can read in more depth about The Were-Wolf’s author and illustrators, the work’s cultural contexts—publishing history, illustrations, wood engraving, the fine printing revival, feminist activism, the New Woman, 1890s werewolf fiction and sexual dissidence, religion and science—and the work’s interpretive frameworks— religious symbolism, colour symbolism, the importance of names and naming, the werewolf archetype in folklore, and gothic conventions. We have also provided a Bibliography of Sources for the Were-Wolf edition; all citations in the edition refer to works in this list.

Editorial Principles

Throughout the process of creating The Were-Wolf as a digital scholarly edition, we have, like the Housmans, worked collaboratively and multimodally. Guided by the MLA Statement on the Scholarly Edition in the Digital Age (2016), we have aimed to achieve the editorial principles of accuracy, adequacy, appropriateness, consistency, and explicitness in our edition.


This is the first COVE edition produced entirely by a class of graduate students. This would not have been possible without the help and support of many people outside the course. We would like to acknowledge the invaluable assistance of Reg Beatty, Project Manager at Ryerson University’s Centre for Digital Humanities (CDH), Val Lem, Subject Librarian, Alison Skyrme, Special Collections Librarian, Olivia Wang, Library Technician, Sally Wilson, Web Services Librarian, and COVE RAs Iris Robin and Alexander Ross. We are also grateful to Dean Pam Sugiman for her support of the CDH Project Manager and Provost Michael Benarroch for his support of the COVE RAs. Thanks, too, to Andrew O’Malley, Chair of English, and Liz Podnieks, Programme Director for the MA in Literatures of Modernity, for their support of this experiential course in Digital Publishing. We are grateful to COVE folks Dino Felluga, Ken Crowell, David Rettenmaier, and Jamie Folsom for providing technical support and timely advice as we created a digital edition in 12 weeks, from selecting and preparing the copy-text, to creating annotations and an editorial apparatus for peer review. Finally, we gratefully acknowledge the Special Collections of the University of Delaware Library and Bryn Mawr College Library for generously sharing materials in their Housman collections with us.

To the best of our knowledge, Clemence Housman’s The Were-Wolf is in the public domain.

Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, Editor-in-Chief, Ryerson University, April 2018

Citation: Kooistra, Lorraine Janzen. "Editorial Introduction to The Were-Wolf." Clemence Housman's The Were-Wolf, edited by Lorraine Janzen Kooistra et al, COVE Editions, 2018, https://editions.covecollective.org/edition/were-wolf/editorial-introduction-were-wolf.