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2. 18th Century

1709

The first new collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays since the Folios, edited by the dramatist Nicholas Rowe, published. The 6-volume set is in octavo, and includes engraved illustrations which draw on contemporary stage practices.

Frontispiece to ‘The Tempest’. The Works of Mr. William Shakespeare
Frontispiece to 'The Tempest'. The Works of Mr. William Shakespeare, revised and corrected by N. Rowe, 1709. British Library, 81.g.16. Larger image

Sir William Davenant granted a warrant to act several of Shakespeare’s plays. Davenant is also granted a Patent for an acting company, known as the Duke ’s Company. He claimed to be Shakespeare’s godson.

1765

A wholly new collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays, edited by the lexicographer Dr. Samuel Johnson, published. Johnson recognised the importance of the First Folio as a source near to Shakespeare himself. His 8-volume set is in octavo.

1769

The actor David Garrick organises a Shakespeare Jubilee, an entertainment held in Stratford-upon-Avon, to celebrate the life and works of the great dramatist. The entertainment is repeated at the Drury Lane Theatre with great success.

1776

David Garrick, a great Hamlet, made his own adaptation of Shakespeare's play. His last appearance in the role was at Drury Lane in 1776.

David Garrick as Hamlet
David Garrick as Hamlet. Dramatic Characters, or Different Portraits of the English Stage, 1773. British Library, 11795.ee.41, unnumbered plate. Larger image

1783

John Philip Kemble makes his London debut at the Drury Lane Theatre in the title-role of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Kemble took leading roles in many of Shakespeare’s plays, as well as adapting several of them.

John Philip Kemble as Hamlet
John Philip Kemble as Hamlet. 'Hamlet', Bell's Edition of Shakespere [sic], Volume 18, 1788. British Library, 20098.aa.10, frontispiece. Larger image

1790

A new collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays, edited by the scholar Edmond Malone, published. Malone recognised the importance of the quarto texts which preceded the First Folio. His 10-volume set is in octavo.

 
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