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THE WORKS
Printed by James Ballantyne and Company for F. C. and J. Rivington et al Edinburgh: Printed by James Ballantyne and Company, for F. C. and J. Rivington et al, 1812. Hardcover. Edited by a Lunatic Duelist,This Set from the Celebrated Holland House Library. 222 x 140 mm (8 3/4 x 5 1/2").14 volumes. Pleasing contemporary green half calf over marbled boards, flat spines gilt in double-ruled compartments with curling cornerpieces, each spine with red morocco label. With frontispiece portraits in the first two volumes and facsimiles of the authors' writings. Front pastedown with armorial bookplate of Holland House (see below). Spines sunned to a soft olive brown (one spine somewhat discolored and scratched, as if sanded), joints a bit rubbed and flaked (the top of two spines slightly chipped, three joints with short splits), boards with minor chafing, but the original bindings quite sound, with no fatal defects, and still providing an attractive appearance on the shelf. Plates, facsimiles, and a couple of text openings noticeably foxed, intermittent minor foxing elsewhere, but still an excellent reading set, the text generally clean and quite fresh. This is an important edition of major early English drama, and although the set has seen better days, those better days took place in a social setting that could hardly have been more celebrated. Our set contains the bookplate of the Fox family (Fairbairn 32.12), presumably that of Henry Fox, 3rd Baron Holland and comes from the library of Holland House, the vast and immensely important home still standing in Holland Park, Kensington. Constructed beginning in 1606, and purchased in 1767 by Henry Fox, grandfather to the 3rd Baron, the house had a long history of social prominence. The hospitality of our Henry Fox and his wife during the first four decades of the 19th century was legendary in literary, social, and intellectual circles, with frequent dinner guests at the mansion including the likes of Byron, Dickens, Disraeli, Scott, Thomas Moore, Jeremy Bentham, Faraday, Humphry Davy, Melbourne, Palmerston, and many more. The present set contains the dramatic works of probably the most famous and productive of Shakespeare's immediate successors (along with Ben Jonson) and includes such well-known works as "The Knight of the Burning Pestle," "Wit Without Money," "The Island Princess," "The Faithful Shepherdess," and "The Maid's Tragedy." Francis Beaumont (1584-1616) and John Fletcher (1579-1625) began a successful collaboration around 1608, and were noted for their "sensational" tragedy, which Day distinguishes from the Shakespearean by an "emphasis upon the theatricality of startling scenes rather than in the overall concept of man's tragic destiny" as well as a "conscious manipulation of scenes to create diversity and contrast instead of a pervasive tone," and a "sentimentalization of its chief figures." The present set represents the most ambitious work of our editor Weber, who led a colorful if lamentable life. Beginning in 1804, he was amanuensis to Scott, who helped find him additional literary employment. His work was respected, but he was afflicted with bouts of insanity, particularly when stimulated by drink. On a particular occasion in the year after the present set was published, Weber was seized by a fit of madness, produced pistols, and challenged Scott to a duel. After a parley, dinner(!), and forceful persuasion, Weber was institutionalized, and he died in an asylum at York in 1818.
      [Bookseller: Phillip J. Pirages Fine Books and Mediev]
Last Found On: 2013-05-29           Check availability:      ABAA    

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