The Pictorial Edition of the Works of Shakespeare.
A later edition of Charles Knight’s Shakespeare, “the first in the country conceived in a right spirit” (H. N. Coleridge), handsomely bound in contemporary red morocco, originally issued in parts from 1837. The publisher and writer Charles Knight (1791–1873) was already a Shakespeare lover and bibliophile in his teens, when he owned an imperfect First Folio which he made up by printing the missing pages from a facsimile edition. “His first major project as an author took shape in 1837, when he resolved to produce a pictorial edition of Shakespeare’s works. He started searching for ‘authentic’ visual materials and began a critical reading of the texts. His edition was based substantially — indeed, too substantially — on the first folio edition, although he made comparisons with other quartos and, in some cases, with originals in the British Museum. His background reading led to a deep interest in Shakespeare’s life and the edition, published between 1838 and 1841 (he published six later editions of the works of Shakespeare), was prefaced with a one-volume biography [actually the biography was issued last, in 1843]. Knight succeeded in contextualizing Shakespeare’s life as no biographer except Nathan Drake had done, and in dismissing a couple of the more absurd legends surrounding the playwright’s early life” (ODNB).
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8 volumes, octavo (242 162 mm). Contemporary red morocco, titles and gilt roll to bands, triple rule to boards with elaborate cornerpieces, rules to turn-ins, marbled endpapers, gilt edges. Illustrated with engravings throughout. Some occasional light foxing, spines a little rubbed, an excellent set.