EARLY SEPARATE TONSON EDITION OF SHAKESPEARE'S ROMEO AND JULIET, 1752
SHAKESPEARE. Romeo and Juliet. London: J. and R. Tonson and S. Draper, 1752. 12mo, modern three-quarter calf, red morocco spine label, marbled boards.
Early Tonson edition of Shakespeare's renowned first tragedy, with a wood-engraved frontispiece illustration engraved by Van der Gucht after Gravelot, and woodcut headpieces and initials.
"To more effective account did Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet (his first tragedy) turn a tragic romance of Italian origin, which was already popular in the English versions of Arthur Broke in verse (1562) and William Painter in prose (in his 'Palace of Pleasure,' 1567). Shakespeare made little change in the plot, but he impregnated it with poetic fervor, and relieved the tragic intensity by developing the humor of Mercutio, and by grafting on the story the new comic character of the Nurse. The fineness of insight which Shakespeare here brought to the portrayal of youthful emotion is as noticeable as the lyric beauty and exuberance of the language" (DNB). This edition of the play is from "the first set of the plays issued separately for performance, each with title page illustration, and new page-numbering… The plays must have been prepared for (or commissioned by) the Drury Lane company of actors, in opposition to a very similar edition published by Walker with whom Tonson carried on a price war… These little books have some charm, with their vignettes and engravings" (Franklin, 17). "Romeo and Juliet was first anonymously and surreptitiously printed by John Danter in 1597 from an imperfect acting copy. A second quarto of 1599 was printed from an authentic version which had undergone much revision" (DNB). The first Tonson edition appeared in 1734. Jaggard, 444.