[ELIZABETHAN DRAMA] LAMB, Charles (editor). Specimens of English Dramatic Poets, Who Lived About the Time of Shakespeare. London: Printed For Longman, Hurst, Rees, And Orme, Paternoster-Row. 1808.
8vo. Attractively bound in full diced tan calf with single-line gilt roll tool to sides and edges of boards, flat spine laterally ruled and lettered in gilt with gilt devices in compartments, long ago expertly rebacked with the entire original spine relaid, sprinkled edges, marbled endpapers; pp. [ii], [iv]-xii + 484, bound without half-title; generally a pleasing copy with external soiling and rubbing, a little old marking to spine and boards, and a couple of old scuffs, internally very good and sound with inner hinges cracked but firm and some marginal offsetting to prelims, internally fresh with only the occasional spot, one leaf trimmed a little short at the fore-edge and the final leaf with a short fore-edge tear with minor loss; with the handsome armorial bookplate of William Fuller Maitland of Stansted Hall (seat of the Earls of Essex from the time of King Henry VIII) to front pastedown.
First edition of Lamb's influential project in which he assembles a personal selection of specimens from plays bearing on human life and manners, some of which, in his own words, are to be discovered only in the British Museum and in some scarce private libraries. His scholarly endeavours here are regarded as having extensive influence on 19th-century English verse.
Contributing extensive notes to each entry, which consist largely of personal criticism and observations, he explains in the Preface his intention to include entire scenes, and in some cases subsequent scenes, lightly edited according to Lamb's idiosyncratic criteria, in order to provide a more accessible text. Some twenty-six Elizabethan and early seventeenth century playwrights are represented, comprising: Thomas Sackville; Thomas Norton; Thomas Kyd; George Peele; Christopher Marlowe; Robert Tailor; Anthony Brewer; Joseph Cooke; Thomas Decker; John Webster; John Marston; George Chapman; Thomas Heywood; Richard Broome; Thomas Middleton; William Rowley; John Ford; Cyril Tourneur; Samuel Daniel; Fulke Greville; Benjamin Jonson; Francis Beaumont; John Fletcher; Philip Massinger; Nathaniel Field and James Shirley.
The previous owner, William Fuller-Maitland, was a Liberal politician who sat in the House of Commons between 1875 and 1895. He was also a renowned art collector and cricketer who played for both Oxford University and Marylebone Cricket Club.