SHAKESPEARE, William. The Dramatic Works of William Shakespeare to which are added his Miscellaneous Poems. London: Printed for Sherwin and Co., 1821.
8vo., contemporary black morocco, boards panelled in gilt with a decorative border in blind, spine lettered in gilt with rich gilt tooling in panels, raised bands and inner dentelles; a.e.g; portrait frontispiece, facsimile of Shakespeare's signature; pp. [vi], vii, [i], 794, [iv]; a little browning and light spotting, light ink inscription to head of title-page, otherwise a very good copy.
A handsome Regency one-volume Shakespeare. With a Life of Shakespeare by Nicholas Rowe.
Rowe had edited the first illustrated works of Shakespeare in 1709, which was innovative for the fact that it was the first time Shakespeare’s plays had appeared as portable, octavo texts rather than larger folios or quartos. He was the first to include a Dramatis Personae (or list of characters) at the start of each Shakespeare play; he made the first complete division of the plays into acts and scenes; and he included stage directions. For the first time he also included an account of Shakespeare’s life at the start of the collection, and it is an edited version of this biography which appears at the beginning of this volume, more than one hunded years later. Rowe’s biography was completed using research by Thomas Betterton (1635–1710), a leading restoration actor, who visited Shakespeare’s birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon, to glean ‘any little Personal story’ of the playwright from the people there.