Friday, November 05, 2010

Shakespeare Books from 1700s Discovered

Why doesn't anybody donate 300yr old previously unknown Shakespeare books to my local library? That's apparently what happened in Missouri, where the Friends of the Library looked in their donation baskets and found:

  • an 8 volume collection of Shakespeare's work, published by the infamous Lewis Theobald, in 1773

  • a volume of Shakespeare's poetry published by John Bell in 1774

First of all I think a clarification is in order, since keen observers may spot the fact that Theobald died in 1744. So my above paraphrase of the article is a bit awkward - these would have been books that Theobald had edited in his own lifetime, circa the 1720's, that were then reprinted by someone else. At least, that's how I understand it.

Theobald, by the way, is "infamous" for the whole Double Falshood / Cardenio issue. We've mentioned him many times in the past.

Here's something that I hope proves as exciting as it sounds to me - *both* sets of books contain pictures of Mr. Shakespeare. And two different pictures at that! Theobald's contains "a portrait of the artist as a young man" (bonus points to the article's author for that literary reference), and Bell's contains a picture of a middle-aged Shakespeare. I don't think I've ever seen either of them (they are both included in the linked article).

What do we think? This sounds pretty neat to me.


kj said...

I'm too picky, I guess:

The article also cites Missouri State University English professor and Shakespeare scholar James Baumlin as saying that "Shakespeare's reputation . . . took a beating after he died in 1621."

Such a beating that they didn't realize that he had been dead five years by that time.


Mark said...

He must've smelled awful at the funeral if he had been dead for five years.