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[WHITE, James, & Charles Lamb.]

Original Letters, &c. of Sir John Falstaff and his friends;

now first made public by a gentleman, a descendant of Dame Quickly, from genuine manuscripts which have been in the possession of the Quickly family near four hundred years.

London: printed for the author; and published by Messrs. G. G. and J. Robinsons; J. Debrett; and Murray and Highley, 1796 Stock Code: 130600
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Shakespeare fan fiction

First edition. The author James White (1775-1820) was a friend of Charles Lamb from their schooldays at Christ's Hospital. He so enjoyed Shakespeare's Henry IV, to which he was introduced by Lamb, that he developed an impersonation of Falstaff good enough to rouse the jealousy of professional actors and for which, according to another school fellow John Mathew Gutch, he was usually addressed by his friends as "Sir John". Original Letters was published the same year as the production at Drury Lane of William Ireland's Shakespeare forgery, Vortigern, and the preface to White's book has a dedication in black letter to "Master Samuel Irelaunde", the forger's father, which was probably written by Lamb. Lamb puffed the book whenever he could, inducing Coleridge to notice it in the Critical Review for June 1797, and writing his own appreciation to the Examiner for 5 Sept. 1819. He is also said to have purchased every available second-hand copy to present to his friends. The book was reissued the following year with a cancel title.

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Duodecimo pp. [2], v-xxiv, 123, [1]. Early 19th-century half calf, spine gilt in compartments, black morocco labels, marbled sides, drab endpapers, top edge gilt.


Engraved frontispiece by W. Leney. Without the blank A1.


Joints cracked at head but holding, a few scattered spots, a very good copy.


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