"EXCESSIVELY RARE" 1660 EDITION OF BAKER'S KINGS OF ENGLAND, WITH SUBSEQUENTLY EXPURGATED REFERENCE TO SHAKESPEARE
BAKER, Richard. A Chronicle of the Kings of England. From the Time of the Romans Government, unto the Death of King James… Whereunto is Added… The Reign of King Charles I, with a Continuation of the Chronicle… London: Printed by E. Cotes, 1660. Folio (8-1/2 by 13 inches), modern half brown calf, raised bands, brown morocco spine label, marbled boards. $2500.
Rare third edition, with splendid engraved title page by Marshall, attractively bound.
This edition contains the following passage extolling the English poets, including Shakespeare, whose name was excised in later editions: "Poetry was never more Resplendent, nor never more Graced; wherein Johnson, Silvester, Shakspere, Beaumont, Fletcher, Shirley, Broom, Massinger, Cartwrite, Randolph, Cleaveland, Quarles, Carew, Davenant, and Sucklin, not only far excelled their own Countrymen, but the whole World besides" (p. 503). "The above passage was quite altered in subsequent editions of the chronicle, and many of the names of poets were struck out, among which was Shakespeare's. This is an excessively rare issue. Most copies were probably destroyed in the Fire of London. Only three others are known—in the Bodleian Library." According to Sidney's Shakespearana, "It is singular that this third edition of 1660 in which the above passage first occurs, should be rare. After a somewhat extensive search in the libraries of Cambridge, Oxford, London, Dublin, Paris and elsewhere, the copies quoted are the only three that have been found" (Maggs 434 : 396). Baker's principal work, first published in 1643, represents "the historical treasury of our ancestors before the publication of Rapin's History." Baker, who composed his most famous work in debtor's prison, "was a person of those accomplishments in wit and language, that his Chronicle has been the best read and liked of any hitherto published" (Allibone I, 103-4). Without portraits of Charles, the author and views of London. STC B504. Lowndes, 101. CBEL I, 839. Early ink owner signature on title page and notes on final endpapers.
Engraved title page backed with paper and bound in as frontispiece. Occasional light embrowning to text, marginal worming to final leaves. A handsome copy of this exceptionally rare edition.