Works of Shakespear

SHAKESPEARE   |   Alexander POPE

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THE RARE FIRST EDITION OF POPE’S SHAKESPEARE, 1723-25, THE FIRST QUARTO EDITION OF SHAKESPEARE’S WORKS, IN BEAUTIFUL CONTEMPORARY CALF

SHAKESPEARE, William. The Works of Shakespear. In Six Volumes. Collated and Corrected by the Former Editions, By Mr. Pope. London: Printed for Jacob Tonson, 1723-1725. Six volumes. Quarto, contemporary full brown speckled calf sympathetically rebacked, elaborately gilt-decorated spines, raised bands, red and green morocco spine labels.

The rare and important first quarto edition of Shakespeare’s works, edited by Alexander Pope, one of only 750 sets printed, in nicely restored contemporary calf.

Pope was the first editor to apply a serious scholarly approach to Shakespeare, using 27 early quartos as the basis for this grammatical masterpiece. Restoring sections that had been out of print for nearly a century, he guides the reader, in an elegant, clear typography, to "the most shining passages" marked by marginal stars. Such acute attention to detail and critical opinion make this an outstanding example of 18th-century Shakespearean research. "The first edition in quarto, and the earliest edited by Alexander Pope. It embraces Pope's preface, the life by Rowe, an index of characters, sentiments, speeches, and descriptions, and a list of subscribers," as well as Shakespeare's comedies, tragedies, and histories. In this edition, Pope intended to remedy what he perceived as the deficiencies of his friend Rowe's 1709 edition. After the four folios and two Rowe editions (issued in octavo and 12mo), this is only the seventh collected edition overall. Without the supplementary seventh volume, rarely present, issued by another publisher in 1725 and including Venus and Adonis, the poems, and an essay on the history of drama. With both engraved portrait plates by Vertue (often missing) in Volume I, the first as a frontispiece and the second bound a few pages into Rowe's Life of Shakespeare. With handsome woodcut initials, head- and tailpieces. General title page printed in red and black and dated 1725; the individual title pages in Volumes II-VI dated 1723. Jaggard, 498. Brunet V:337. Lowndes, 2259. Allibone II:2017. Engraved armorial bookplate in each volume of "Carton Library," from Carton House, Maynooth, County Kildare, the ancestral home of the FitzGeralds, earls of Kildare and dukes of Leinster, along with typographical shelf label completed by hand.

Only occasional foxing, chiefly marginal; extremities expertly restored. A desirable copy of this impressive quarto edition.

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