The First Octavo Shakespeare, with the Poems

The Works. Revis’d and Corrected, with an Account of the Life and Writings of the Author by N. Rowe [with:] The Works … Volume the Seventh, Containing Venus & Adonis, Tarquin & Lucrere and His Miscellany Poems.

London: Printed for Jacob Tonson, within Grays-Inn Gate; E. Curll at the Dial and Bible, 1709, 1710.

Price: $32,500.00

About the item

First octavo edition of Shakespeare. With frontispiece portrait in volumes I-VI, apotheosis plate at I:xxxlvii; each of the 43 plays with copper engraved plate and letterpress title. Curll volume with frontispiece of Venus & Adonis. 7 vols. 8vo. The First Octavo Shakespeare, with the Poems. Nineteenth-century tan polished calf gilt. Some light traces of rubbing, some toning to text leaves. A fine set. ESTC T138296. Jaggard p. 497.

Item #324035

“In importance and interest, this edition ranks second perhaps to the editio princeps. It is the first manual text, the first to present a biography of the poet, the first to bear an editor’s name, the first to possess illustrations … The attributed plays are found also in this edition, and the plates are of no small value because of their contemporary costume.” — Jaggard

Tonson secured the copyright to the Plays of the Fourth Folio and this edition follows that text. At the conclusion of the editor’s introduction, the following paragraph appears:
There is a Book of Poems, publish’d in 1640, under the name of Mr. William Shakespear, but as I have but very lately seen it, without an Opportunity of making any Judgment upon it, I won’t pretend to determine, whether it be his or no.

A seventh volume, containing the Poems, was published by the ‘Unspeakable Curll’ the following year. The poems we now know as the Sonnets are published (sometimes with individual titles) at pp. VII:111-196 with the running head Poems on Several Occasions.

A landmark in the publication history of Shakespeare.