The Plays of William Shakespeare, in eight volumes, with the corrections and illustrations of various commentators; to which are added notes by Sam. Johnson. William Shakespeare.
The Plays of William Shakespeare, in eight volumes, with the corrections and illustrations of various commentators; to which are added notes by Sam. Johnson

Johnson's Shakespeare: A Landmark of Literary Scholarship

The Plays of William Shakespeare, in eight volumes, with the corrections and illustrations of various commentators; to which are added notes by Sam. Johnson.

London: Printed [by William Strahan] for J. and R. Tonson … T. Longman [et al], 1765.

Second Johnson edition. Frontispiece portrait by George Vertue. Johnson's Preface paginated, half-titles in all volumes. 8 vols. 8vo. Johnson's Shakespeare: A Landmark of Literary Scholarship. Bound in contemporary full mottled calf, rebacked, original gilt decorated spines laid down. Fleeman 65.10SP2a; Courtney & Smith pp. 103-08; Chapman & Hazen pp. 146-47; Jaggard p. 501; Pforzheimer 911g. Provenance: Sarah House (early ownership signature). Item #307328

A handsome copy of Johnson's famous edition of Shakespeare; the second edition, issued November 1765, a month after the first edition, and distinguished only by a variant imprint, pagination in Johnson's preface, the absence of cancels, variations in some signatures and pressworks, and the presence of half-titles in all volumes.
Adam Smith is said to have called it "the most manly piece of criticism that was ever published in any country". Jaggard notes that Johnson seems to have earned in excess of £1,300 for his editorial labors. "Printing occupied several years. The work was published, and presumably distributed to subscribers, on 10 October 1765, at 2 guineas a copy ... The reception was almost uniformly favorable" (Fleeman).

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