Page 22-23 - H&W Brochure #3

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William Shakespeare. The Dramatic Works of William Shakespeare,
To Which Are Added His Miscellaneous Poems.
London: J. Walker, et al., 1821. Six 12mo volumes,
contemporary full straight-grained morocco gilt. $1800.
Beautifully bound miniature set of Shakespeare’s works, bringing together
the sonnets, the longer poems, and the plays. By the early nineteenth century,
Shakespeare’s place as the presiding genius of English literature was firmly
established. His works were issued in formats for every occasion, from lavishly
illustrated folios (most notably, John Boydell’s National Edition) to sparkling
pocket collections like this one, directed at the casual reader, with modernized
spelling and footnotes. The first volume opens with a sympathetic life of
Shakespeare as neighbor, emphasizing his essential “humanity and good-nature,”
noting his fondness for entertaining and gardening, and decrying the destruction
of the mulberry tree he planted in Stratford-upon-Avon. A gem, in a bright
contemporary binding.
Raphael Holinshed. The First and Second Volumes of Chronicles,
Comprising The Description and Historie of England, Ireland, and Scotland.
London: John Harison, George Bishop, et al., 1587. Two folio volumes bound as one, 14.
5 x 9.5 inches, nineteenth-century blind-tooled morocco gilt, gilt stag at base of spine.
Text in two columns, black-letter, with six woodcut title pages. All cancels present. $10,000.
Revised 1587 second edition of Holinshed’s ambitious history, greatly expanded
from the 1577 first edition. The
offer a detailed account of the landscape,
history, and character of the British Isles, drawing on ancient and modern sources,
with a keen sense of plot and intrigue. As Holinshed declares: “whatsoever I have
done, I have had an especiall eye unto the truth of things.” This second edition is
best remembered as the direct source of many of Shakespeare’s plays: Volume I,
covering pre-modern England, introduces Lear and Cymbeline, while Volume II,
devoted to Ireland and Scotland, tells the story of Macbeth and the “weird sisters.”
A third volume on modern England, not present here, inspired the history plays.
A very handsome copy of an Elizabethan cornerstone.