This article develops recent work by literary historians on miscellany publication, and on the printed miscellanies that were so important and popular for the early eighteenth-century book trade. It offers a history of the form, illustrated by comments made by the Duke of Buckingham, Francis Osborne, Sir William Temple, Charles de Sainte-Évremond, John Locke, John Wilson, the Earl of Shaftesbury, Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, and John Gay. It examines examples of miscellanies produced by John Dryden and his publisher Jacob Tonson, by John Dennis and Charles Gildon, and by Pope and Swift. Previous commentators have argued that miscellanies were the product of book-trade contingency—publishers simply bundled whatever fugitive poetry they happened to have to hand. This article argues that miscellanies were in fact well-theorized vehicles for authorial and editorial intention. Multiauthor miscellanies often represented complicated patterns of social and cultural allegiance. Miscellaneity had distinct formal meaning. This essay proposes that editors and designers of electronic editions should consider “digital miscellaneity” as an eligible model for future editions of eighteenth-century texts.

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