The Plays of William Shakspeare [sic] accurately printed from the Text of the corrected Copy left by the late George Steevens [sic], Esq. With a Series of Engravings, from Original Designs of Henry Fuseli… and a Selection of Explanatory and Historical Notes, From the most eminent Commentators; a History of the Stage, a Life of Shakespeare, &c. by Alexander Chambers…
by Blake, William.
10 volumes. London: C and J. Rivington, 1805. 10 volumes, royal 8vo, with a portrait frontispiece of Shakespeare and 37 separate engravings after drawings by Fuseli by Neagle, Cromek, Rhodes, Dodley, and two by William Blake. Original calf, rather worn with some hinges cracked. Gilt on raised backstrip, also rather worn. Volume 1 has some cracking to spine. Some spotting. Volume 1 has one minor worm hole on the lower margin the goes through a number of pages to the rear pastedown. Volume 3 has a small worm hole that goes through the entire lower margin of the book and becomes two holes that continues to the back pastedown. Volume 9 has some minimal worming at the rear pastedown. The text in all volumes is unaffected. Volumes 1 and 3 have a few untrimmed pages. Each volume has a bookplate from the previous owner, Henry Frederick Thistlethwayte, at front. Volume 1 is inscribed with with a note from Thistlethwayte to his son Alfred. The plates are fine impressions. Large-paper issue of the best illustrated collection of Shakespeare’s plays (save only the elephant-folio Boydell). This was one of Fuseli’s major projects as a book-illustrator and it succeeds brilliantly; the engravings are dramatic and rich, and, in this edition, well printed. Blake engraved two plates after Fuseli for the book, his only illustrations of Shakespeare. Vol. VII for King Henry VIII and vol. X for Romeo and Juliet. There was a nine-volume small-paper issue with greatly inferior printing of text and plates but, as Bentley observed “the ten-volume edition is considerably more elegant”. Bentley 498. Essick, William Blake’s Commercial Book Illustrations, XLVII. (Inventory #: 107915)
Books and manuscripts in all fields, especially medieval illuminated and text manuscripts; material on California, Hawaii, and Pacific voyages; illustrated books and fine bindings from the 15th through the 20th century; children's books from 1750 to 1950; and fine press printing. William Blake, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Thomas Frognall Dibdin are special interests.
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