London: J. Johnson, 1783. First Edition. Octavo, , viii, 232, 235-240 ; VG; bound in contemporary burgundy calf by J. Clarke, paneled spine with gilt tooling, labels missing; mild rubbing and wear to binding; marbled endpapers; The last leaf contains a prospectus; OF consignment; shelved case 10.
Shelved Dupont Bookstore
From the text: "The slightest alteration in the name of this great writer is a circumstance of so much importance to the public, that, although the editors may not have been too hasty in preferring SHAKSPEARE to SHAKESPEARE, it might be wished that a more decisive and less equivocal au|thority than his WILL had been produced to justify and enforce the change. This will, it should seem, the poet made in his last sickness, when he appears to have been so incapable of paying that attention to the writing of his name which a man in health usually does, that he has actually subscribed it two different ways: SHAKSPERE, and SHAKSPEARE. So that we are still uncertain which mode to adopt";
"Criticism of Shakespearean editions was not limited to notes within subsequent editions, but could be published separately. This is the first of three such independent works by the antiquary and scholar Joseph Ritson (1752-1803). It is an attack on the ten-volume edition of Shakespeare’s plays edited by Samuel Johnson and George Steevens in 1778. In it Ritson consigns Johnson and Steevens to “the regions of oblivion or disgrace”, criticising Johnson for failure to collate the folios (“the chief and fundamental business of an editor”), and Steevens for failure even to compare them. Ritson showed a thorough knowledge of his subject and previous editions of Shakespeare, but his corrections were often trifling and his manner aggressively acerbic. Ritson himself intended to produce an edition based on the first two folios and taking the quartos into account, which would “with regard to the correctness of the text, be infinitely superior to any that has yet appeared”. This work was not realised, but Steevens added approximately 450 notes from Ritson’s various works to his next edition (1791-1802)." [University of London]