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William Shakespeare, 1564-1616.
Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies. London: Printed by Tho. Cotes, for John Smethwick, and are to be sold at his shop in Saint Dunstans Church-yard, 1632.

The four early folio editions of Shakespeare's plays, which were printed between 1622 and 1685, are perhaps the most sought-after rarities in English literature. This copy of the Second Folio was acquired as the University of Delaware Library's two millionth volume.

Gift of the University of Delaware Library Associates

William Shakespeare, 1564-1616.
The Dramatic Works of Shakspeare. London: Printed by W. Bulmer and Co., for John and Josiah Boydell, G. and W. Nicol, 1802.

One of the most celebrated of all editions of Shakespeare, the Boydell Shakespeare was by any standards a monumental production. Boydell commissioned the best artists of the day to produce fine engravings of Shakespearean scenes with meticulous detail, and created a type foundry, an ink factory, and a printing house specifically for this edition. The result was a beautiful, luxurious edition that took nearly sixteen years to produce, with handsome typography and engravings of the highest quality; an edition that was a triumph in the history of book arts.

Tales from Shakespear Charles Lamb, 1775-1834.
Tales from Shakespear: Designed for the Use of Young Persons . London: Printed for M. J. Godwin, 1816.

First published in 1807, Tales from Shakespear simplified both the stories and the style of the originals. It was often the first introduction to Shakespeare's plays for children in the nineteenth century. The illustrations consist of twenty plates from drawings by William Mulready engraved by William Blake. Throughout his career as a poet and artist, Blake supported himself as an engraver for other artist's work. These engravings show his mastery of the craft, but not the brilliance of his fantastic imagination.

American Edition of Boydell's

John Boydell, 1719-1804.
The American edition of Boydell's Illustrations of the dramatic works of Shakespeare, by the most eminent artists of Great Britain. New York: Restored and published with original descriptions of the plates by Shearjashub Spooner, 1852.

This collection of engravings-after-paintings by England's best-known academy painters is an astonishing tour-de-force of the engraver's craft, but has the stilted look of stage settings. As is typical for Victorian academic art, the technical skill overwhelms any emotion or character development.

Shakespearean Tableau

Shakespearian Tableau. London: P. Jerrard, 1854.

This is a typical Victorian gift book, with short quotes from Shakespeare matched with generic, brightly colored illustrations.

  Felix Octavius Carr Darley, 1822-1888.
The Darley Gallery of Shakespearean Illustrations. New York, Philadelphia: J.M. Stoddart, 1884.

Felix Octavius Carr Darley was the most famous American illustrator of the mid-nineteenth century. He illustrated works by the major authors of the period, including James Fenimore Cooper, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Charles Dickens. The Darley Gallery of Shakespearean Illustrations, a deluxe edition of thirty India ink wash drawings produced as photogravures, was Darley's last major work and the culmination of his career as an illustrator.

Gift of Eileen and Elliott Pollack

Comedies, Histories & Tragedies

William Shakespeare, 1564-1616.
The Comedies, Histories & Tragedies of William Shakespeare. New York: Limited Editions Club, 1939-40.

The complete edition of thirty-seven volumes of Shakespeare's plays was designed by Bruce Rogers. In describing his plans for the folio-size volumes, Rogers wrote in 1938 that he desired a type that "should be bold and vigorous enough to convey to the reader's eye something of the rugged Elizabethan quality of the text." Each volume is illustrated by a different artist. The images in King Lear were done from drawings by Boardman Robinson.

Tragedie of King Lear William Shakespeare, 1564-1616.
The Tragedie of King Lear; with woodcuts by Mary Grabhorn. San Francisco: Grabhorn Press, 1959.

Mary Grabhorn contributed striking colored woodcuts to this edition of King Lear. The Grabhorn Press was begun by Edwin and Robert Grabhorn in San Francisco in 1919. After Robert's death in 1973, the press became Arion Press, run by Andrew Hoyem who had worked with Robert Grabhorn.

King Lear

William Shakespeare, 1564-1616.
King Lear; with 9 original etchings by Christopher Kent. Guildford, England: Circle Press Publications, 1973.

Circle Press was formed by Ron King in 1967. The name was chosen by King to suggest his vision of a group of like-minded persons working within a shared, supportive framework; a circle which over the period of time has enlarged to include over 100 artists and poets. The press has always been managed in all aspects of its activities by the artists themselves from production to sales and distribution.

Tragedie of King Lear

William Shakespeare, 1564-1616.
The Tragedie of King Lear; with woodcuts by Claire Van Vliet. Bangor: Theodore Press, 1986 (West Burke, Vt.: Janus Press).

Claire Van Vliet, who founded the Janus Press in 1955, designed, illustrated, type-set, printed on hand-made paper, and bound this edition. Van Vliet, a major figure in the artist book movement, also has created a significant body of watercolors, drawings, etchings, lithographs, woodcuts, and paperworks. In l989, she was awarded a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Prize Fellowship Award. Her woodcuts for King Lear are simple but emotionally powerful.

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