Ah, gentle reader, welcome to 2013, same as 2012.
That’s right, just as I rang in 2012 scrambling to write footnotes for Mrs. Dalloway, so, too, will I ring in 2013 doing the same. The edition is close. One of the outside readers said it was good to go. The other reader noticed that I had not footnoted every single solitary proper name. I missed dozens, in fact, not having understood the mission of the edition--all the party guests and all the Londoners who stand in the crowd and watch the car drive by. Now, I'd noted the names of ones that stuck out at me, but Mr. Fletcher, retired, of the Treasury, who is just a phrase in the novel? Him, I had not noted. I am doing so now. Each first name and surname gets a note for which I will have checked:
- Woolf's family tree for relatives with that name
- Woolf's other novels, mostly prior to 1925 but occasionally post-Dalloway, for characters with that name
- Woolf's letters and diaries for friends and associates with that name
- Woolf's essays up to 1925 for reviews by authors with that name or of novels w/characters of that name
- The etymology of the name
- For surnames, the Oxford DNB for famous people whom Woolf might have known or of whom she might have been aware with that name
- And, for surnames only, its frequency & geographic distribution in the 1881 UK census
Now, most names won't get all points mentioned, but each name has to have all checked. So, if the frequency of a surname isn't mentioned, it's because it's in that zone of not being in the 100 most common names, but is common enough to be in the census as my editorial decision was to note only when names were so infrequent as to have fewer than 100 bearers in the 1881 census (the closest in time to Mrs. Dalloway) OR so frequent as to be among the 100 most common.
I’m getting better at this and I alternate between despair and cockiness. Give me a proper noun, any proper noun, and I will write you a footnote explaining its relevance to Mrs. Dalloway. Try me!