“THE PLAY’S THE THING”: LARGE QUARTO SET OF JOHNSON AND STEEVENS’ EDITION OF SHAKESPEARE’S PLAYS
SHAKESPEARE, William. The Plays of William Shakspeare, from the Corrected Text of Johnson and Steevens. Embellished with Plates. London: John Stockdale, 1807. Six volumes. Large quarto, 19th-century full tan calf gilt, ornately gilt-decorated spines, raised bands, brown morocco spine labels, all edges gilt.
Samuel Johnson and George Steevens’ large quarto edition of Shakespeare’s plays, beautifully printed and illustrated with 11 full-page plates and 11 vignettes engraved by Heath.
First published in 1773, Johnson and Steevens' edition of Shakespeare's plays was "considered the best edition that had appeared up to that time, and was long regarded as the standard" (Grolier Shakespeare's Plays, 19). This 1807 printing of their text, known as the Heath or Bensley edition, "holds a place among notable editions of the period because the six imperial quarto volumes were printed by Bensley in close imitation of the Boydell folios." The engravings by Heath are after Stothard, Fuseli and Hamilton. Jaggard, 511. Lowndes, 2264. Laid in at front of Vol. I is a mounted octavo-sized engraving of Heath, "Historical Engraver to the King" and a mounted autograph receipt signed by Heath. The receipt, dated December 14th 1795, acknowledges payment for "engraving a plate." Armorial bookplate of Sir Matthew White, first Viscount Ridley.
Only occasional light foxing, light offsetting from plates. Expert repair to joints. A splendid set, beautifully printed, illustrated and bound.