The Poly-Olbion project is a product of many years of discussion, planning and prevarication. We were motivated in part by successive literary editors at Oxford University Press: Andrew McNeillie, who loves Drayton and suggested the idea when he worked briefly at Exeter; and Jacqueline Baker, who has overseen the launch of Oxford Scholarly Editions Online. The project was in due course made possible by a project grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council. It began in September 2013 and will run through to the end of February 2016.
The project is a collaboration between Andrew McRae and Philip Schwyzer, each of whom has longstanding research interests in the poem. We were very fortunate, in the planning stages, to be able to identify two outstanding postdoctoral research associates. Sjoerd Levelt, educated at the Warburg Institute and author of the award-winning Jan van Naaldwijk’s Chronicles of Holland: Continuity and Transformation in the Historical Tradition of Holland (2011), is with us for the first twelve months, working on John Selden’s ‘Illustrations’ and based with Selden’s books in Oxford. Daniel Cattell, an Exeter English doctoral graduate, is working on the poem, and will be with the project for the duration. Dan worked with us on our pilot project a few years ago, that produced an online version of the poem’s first song.
Our work is overseen by a project board, comprising: Martin Butler (Leeds), Andrew Hadfield (Sussex), Felicity Henderson (Exeter), Roger Kain (School of Advanced Study, London), and Jason Rosenblatt (Georgetown). We have a project partnership agreement with the Royal Geographical Society in London, which will host a conference and exhibition in autumn 2015; and Flash of Splendour Arts is contracted, as part of the project, to deliver an ambitious and innovative range of educational activities related to the text.