London: Printed for S. Leacroft, Charing-Cross, 1779. Two octavo volumes, contemporary full calf gilt, rebacked with original spines laid down, red and green spine labels, gilt crest of Holland House on front boards, dark blue endpapers, Holland House bookplates. Some shelfwear to calf, rear joint of Volume I tender, but cords holding firm. Endpapers dusty, small marginal wormhole to Volume II, not affecting text. Item #100176
First edition of this collection of Shakespearean source material, edited by George Steevens, who had recently partnered with Samuel Johnson on an influential edition of Shakespeare; a publisher's advertisement for the Johnson-Steevens octavo edition appears in the first volume. The plays anthologized here are George Whetstone's Promos and Cassandra (1578), a source for Measure for Measure; Plautus's Meanaechmi (reprinted from a 1595 English translation), the basis of The Comedy of Errors; The Taming of a Shrew (reprinted from a 1607 edition, but known to exist as early as 1594), a source for The Taming of The Shrew; The Troublesome Reign of K. John (reprinted from the 1611 edition that credits Shakespeare as the author, but first printed in 1591), a source for King John; The Famous Victories of Henry V (first published in 1598, but acted some years earlier), a source for Henry IV and Henry V; and The True Chronicle History of King Leir, and His Three Daughters, Gonorill, Ragan, and Cordella (reprinted from a 1605 edition, but acted as early as 1594), a source for King Lear. London bookseller J. Nichols, who backed this collection, writes of the six plays anthologized here: "Their claim to be preserved is built on their having suggested such plans as [Shakespeare's] superior genius and judgment enabled him to improve. A basket placed by accident over a weed, and covered with a tile, is recorded by Vitruvius as the origin of the Corinthian capital." In a Holland House armorial binding, with Holland House bookplates. A very good copy.