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The Plays Of William Shakspeare, Accurately printed from the Text of the corrected copy left by the late George Steevens, Esq. With A Series Of Engravings, From Original Designs Of Henry Fuseli, Esq. R.A. Professor Of Painting: And A Selection Of Explanatory And Historical Notes, From the most eminent Commentators; A History of the Stage, a Life of Shakspeare, &c. By Alexander Chalmers, A.M. - In Ten Volumes. - Volume I. ... (- Volume X. ...)

William Shakespeare

RA Collection: Book

Record number




London:: Printed for F. C. and J. Rivington; J. Johnson; R. Baldwin; H.L. Gardner; W. J. and J. Richardson; J. Nichols and Son; T. Payne; R. Faulder; G. and J. Robinson; W. Lowndes; G. Wilkie; Scatcherd and Letterman; T. Egerton; J. Walker; W. Clarke and Son; J. Barker and Son; D. Ogilvy and Son; Cuthell and Martin; R. Lea; P. Macqueen; Lackington, Allen and Co.; T. Kay; J. Deighton; J. White; W. Miller; Vernor and Hood; D. Walker; C. Law; B. Crosby and Co.; R. Pheney; Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme; Cadell and Davies; J. Harding; R.H. Evans; S. Bagster; J. Mawman; Blacks and Parry; J. Badcock; J. Asperne; and T. Ostell. -, 1805.

Physical Description

10 vols. 230 mm. (Octavo.)

General Note

Vol. I: [8], xlvi, [2], 119, [1], 309, [1] p., frontis. (port.), [3] pl.: [1] illus. - Vol. II: [4], 387, [1] p., [4] pl. - Vol. III: [4], 429, [1] p., [3] pl. - Vol. IV: [4], 418 p., [3] pl. - Vol. V: [4], 460 p., [3] pl. - Vol. VI: [4], 479, [1] p., [3] pl. - Vol. VII: [4], 402 p., [3] pl. - Vol. VIII: [4], 480 p., [3] pl. - Vol. IX: [4], 473, [1] p., [3] pl. - Vol. X: [4], 463, [1] p., [3] pl.


Vol. I: [Half-t., frontis., t.p.] - Preface (by Alexr. Chalmers 1804) - Sketch Of The Life Of Shakspeare - Shakspeare's Will ... - Chronology Of Shakspeare's Plays - Dr. Johnson's Preface - An Historical Account Of The English Stage: By Mr. Malone - Mr. Pope's Preface - [Text and plates]; [colophon]. - Vols. II-IX: [Half-t., t.p.] - [Text and pl.]; [colophon]. - Vol. X: [Half-t., t.p.] - [Text, and pl.] - Glossarial Index; [colophon].

Responsibility Note

The frontispiece portrait of Shakespeare in Vol. I is signed as engraved by J. Neagle. It carries the publisher's imprint of J. Johnson &c. and the date of Mar 31 1803. All other plates are signed as drawn by (H.) Fuseli (R.A.) and engraved by Bromley, R.H. Cromek, Rhodes, Dadley, I. Neagle, Taylor, C. Warren, Noble, Lee, (W.) Blake or Joseph Smith; and each carries the publishers' imprint of F. and C. Rivington, almost always with the publication-date.

The in-text illustration (Vol. I. p.63) is unsigned.

The printer is named on the versos of the half-titles and in the colophons: 'C. and R. Baldwin, Printers, New Bridge-street, London.'


D. H. Weinglass, Prints and engraved illustrations by and after Henry Fuseli: a catalogue raisonée (1994), nos. 189-225, p.237-68.

F. Licht, S. Tosini Pizzetti and D.H. Weinglass, Füssli pittore di Shakespeare [exhibition catalogue] (1997), esp. nos. 72-80, p.194-203. The wider context is studied in S. Sillars, Painting Shakespeare The Artist As Critic 1720-1820 (2006); H. Hammerschmidt-Hummel, Die Shakespeare-Illustrationen (1594-2000), 3 v. (2003).

The work of the editors is described in P. Martin, Edmond Malone Shakespearean scholar (1995); A. Sherbo, The achievement of George Steevens (1990); A. Sherbo, The birth of Shakespeare studies (1986); E.P. Willey, 'The works of Alexander Chalmers journalist, editor, biographer', in Bulletin of Research in the Humanities, 86 (1983), p.94-101.

Summary Note

The publication-date of 1805 is carried by all title-pages. Almost all plates carry pubication-dates, of 1803 (Vols. I-VI) or 1804 (Vols. VII-X). The work was first advertised in January 1803 as about to be published in serial form; and was advertised in January 1805 as about to be published in book form. Besides this issue in ten volumes (1805) on finest paper, there were also two issues in nine volumes (also 1805) on two kinds of inferior paper, and one issue without copper-plates (and the title-page amended accordingly). In 1811 the work was reissued in 9 volumes, with and without plates.

The frontispiece of Volume I shows a portrait of William Shakespeare. The other plates show scenes from the plays (and are captioned with the name and scene-number of the play). The in-text illustration in Volume I (p.63) shows an Elizabethan theatre.


A preliminary leaf of Volume I is inscribed in ink, 'To the President & Council of the Royal Academy of Arts this work is presented for their acceptance and the honor of a place in the Library of that Royal Institution - by the Author.' This copy was probably presented by Chalmers via Fuseli, as a result of the latter having been asked by the RA Council 'to undertake the purchase' of an edition of Shakespeare for the Library on 5 March 1810 (see RA Council Minutes IV, 199-200).

Binding Note

19th-century half calf, brown cloth-covered boards; gilt-decorated spines, lettered 'R.A. 1805', black morocco spine-labels lettered 'Shakspeare's Plays. - Chalmers. - Vol. I. (-X.)'.

Name as Subject


English drama - 16th century - 17th century
Pictorial works - Illustrated books - Great Britain - 19th century


George Steevens, editor
Alexander Chalmers, editor, previous owner?, donor?
Henry Fuseli RA, draughtsman
Francis Rivington, publisher
Charles Rivington, publisher
John Rivington, publisher
Henry Lasher Gardner, publisher
William James Richardson, publisher
John Nichols, publisher
John Bowyer Nichols, publisher
Thomas Payne, publisher
Robert Faulder, publisher
George Robinson, publisher
William Lowndes, publisher
George Wilkie, publisher
James Scatcherd, publisher
Charles Letterman, publisher
Thomas Egerton, publisher
John Walker, publisher
David Ogilvy, publisher
John Cuthell, publisher
Richard Lea, publisher
Peter McQueen, publisher
James Lackington, publisher
Charles Law, publisher
Benjamin Crosby, publisher
Richard Pheney, publisher
John Harding, publisher
Robert Harding Evans, publisher
Samuel Bagster the elder, publisher
Joseph Mawman, publisher
John Badcock, publisher
James Asperne, publisher
Thomas Ostell, publisher
Charles Baldwin, printer
Edmond Malone
Alexander Pope
Samuel Johnson
William Bromley ARA, engraver
James Neagle, engraver
Robert Hartley Cromek, engraver
Richard Rhodes, engraver
John Dadley, engraver
Isaac Taylor the younger, engraver
Charles Warren, engraver
Samuel Noble, engraver
John Lee, engraver?
Joseph Clarendon Smith, engraver
Cuthell and Martin (London), publisher
Lackington and Allen, publisher
Kay, publisher
Deighton, publisher
Vernor and Hood (London), publisher
B. Crosby and Company (London), publisher
Longman, Hurst, Rees and Orme, publisher
Cadell and Davies (London), publisher
C. and R. Baldwin (London), printer

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