4 Johnson.Steevens.ReedOne of the big gaps in our collection is the first edition of Samuel Johnson’s text of Shakespeare, published in London in 1765 (8 volumes), and followed immediately that same year with a second edition. The third edition was published in 1768 in London (10 volumes).

We ALSO LACK the “Johnson-Steevens” edition published in London, 1773 (10 volumes), and the Johnson-Steevens-Reed editions of 1778 (London, 10 vols.) and 1785 (Dublin, 10 vols.).

We do, however, have the 1793 Johnson-Steevens-Reed edition, which is the earliest version of Johnson’s Shakespeare we have in the Watkinson.  Perhaps some generous alum has a copy of the 1765 edition?  We would love to own it!

In 1783, Steevens wrote to Reed, asking him to assume control of the next planned revision of the text, and provided Reed with “some 445 additions, revisions, and omissions in his own 1773 notes.” Johnson himself died in 1784, but his name continued to appear on the title-pages of the Steevens-Reed sequence. Though he had handed control of the text to Reed for the 1785 edition, Steevens resumed control for this edition of 1793, using it as a platform to attack fellow Shakespearean Edmond Malone through his proxy Joseph Ritson, who in 1792 launched a direct assault on Malone, claiming that he wished “to rescue the language and sense” of Shakespeare “from the barbarism and corruption they have acquired in passing through the hands of this incompetent and unworthy editor,” and caricatured Malone as a “Paddy form Cork” Irishman.

Andrew Murphy, Shakespeare in Print (Cambridge UP, 2003)

This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 at 4:03 pm and is filed under book history, Shakespeare. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed at this time.