“SO, FROM OLD SHAKESPEAR’S HONOUR’D DUST, THIS DAY, SPRINGS UP AND BUDS A NEW REVIVING PLAY”: RESTORATION ADAPTATION OF SHAKESPEARE’S TEMPEST, 1676 QUARTO—THE FOYLE COPY
(SHAKESPEARE) [DRYDEN, John, and D'AVENANT, William]. The Tempest, or the Enchanted Island. A Comedy: As it is now Acted at His Highness the Duke of York's Theatre. London: Printed by J. Macock, for Henry Herringman, 1676. Small quarto, 19th-century three-quarter crimson morocco, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. Housed in a custom cloth clamshell box. $12,000.
Third edition of D’Avenant and Dryden’s Restoration adaptation of The Tempest, the Bard’s bewitching tale of shipwreck and sorcery. The Foyle copy.
Almost certainly the last work Shakespeare wrote by himself (in late 1610 or early 1611)—and, uniquely, his sole wholly original plot—The Tempest consistently proves as enchanting and enthralling to audiences as Prospero's spells. Horace Howard Furness' judgment on the character of Caliban applies just as easily to the play as a whole: "Shakespeare has risen, I think, to the very height of creative power… [and] has accomplished the impossible" (1892). After the end of the Puritan interval under Cromwell, the restored London theater depended upon Shakespeare as a source of dramatic material; but the Bard's plays, as he originally wrote them, did not suit newer audiences' tastes. Standards of versification and of genteel behavior had changed. To meet the needs of contemporary audiences, playwrights refurbished Shakespeare in adaptations that often proved enduring. Sir William D'Avenant—rumored to have been Shakespeare's illegitimate son (the Bard was known to frequent the tavern owned by John D'Avenant and his wife, "a very beautiful woman of a good wit," during journeys between London and Stratford)—is primarily responsible for this "Restoration Tempest." His co-adaptor John Dryden (who the next year would succeed D'Avenant as poet laureate) writes in this edition's preface that D'Avenant "first taught [him] to admire" Shakespeare, and praises his amplifications of Shakespeare's plot (which consisted mainly of new scenes between Hippolyto—"one that never saw woman"—and Dorinda—one "that never saw man"—and comedic business for the sailors). Shakespeare's Tempest "occupies the premiere position in the Jaggard canon [i.e., the First Folio] of 1623"; this version of D'Avenant and Dryden's adaptation first saw print in 1670 ("Lowndes calls for an edition of 1699, but no copy with that date is known," Bartlett 161). Two issues of this popular adaptation were published by Herringman in 1676; no priority given. Bound without final blank [M2]. Jaggard 463. Wing S2946A; see also S2946. See Rosenbach 44:173. Morocco-gilt Beeleigh Abbey bookplate of the celebrated bookseller and book collector William Alfred Foyle. "Foyle lived for and dreamed about books. He seldom forgot a title. He went to endless trouble to track down unusual or rare books for people, and his stock and his reputation grew. In 1907 he took larger premises in Charing Cross Road, in order to stock books on every subject—art, theology, music, education… Foyles became a Mecca for booklovers… He determined to create the greatest bookshop in the world, and he succeeded… In 1945 he bought the 12th-century Premonstratensian Abbey of Beeleigh, situated on the River Chelmer, in Maldon, Essex. In this beautiful setting he was able to indulge his passion for collecting rare books, and he formed one of the great libraries. Among his treasures are many incunabula: Caxtons, Wynkyn de Worde, Kolberger, Shakespeare's folios and a superb collection of 14th- and 15th-century illuminated manuscripts" (DNB).
Text professionally cleaned; lower corner of first signature mildly shaved, not touching letterpress. Binding attractive and fine. A desirable copy with excellent provenance.