The Plays of Shakespeare. Volumes I, II & III.

By William Shakespeare

Printed: Circa 1869

Publisher: Cassell Petter & Galpin. London

Dimensions 20 × 27 × 5 cm

Language: English

Size (cminches): 20 x 27 x 5


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Tan leather spine with red and brown title plates, gilt banding, decoration and title. Green cloth boards. Dimensions are for one volume.        Title page missing in volume III.

  • F.B.A. provides an in-depth photographic presentation of this item to stimulate your feeling and touch. More traditional book descriptions are immediately available.

Size: 10.5″ by 8″ Pagination: 727; 600; 800pp

The beautifully illustrated complete Plays of Shakespeare illustrated by Selous and edited by Charles and Mary Cowden Clarke.

Volumes I – III, complete. The three volumes are seperated into Comedies, Histories and Tragedies. William Shakespeare, d.1616, was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright. Charles Cowden Clarke, 1787 – 1877, and Mary Cowden Clarke, 1809 – 1898, were English authors and Shakespearian scholars. At first, whilst having published several articles, Charles became a publisher. After the business eventually failed, he took to writing reviews and articles, and later lecturing, especially on Chaucer and Shakespeare. As a lecturer, Charles lasted twenty years, and as the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography tells us, “He prepared his lectures meticulously and delivered them with clarity and humour, both stimulating and charming his audiences. He dealt with a wide range of authors and topics, including Shakespeare, English poetry, and European novelists. His recitations from his chosen authors were widely admired and were said to be as accomplished as those given by Dickens.” The Cowden Clarke’s had many literary friends, including Keats, Shelley, Coleridge and Leigh Hunt. Mary Cowden Clarke, as well as being a poet, author and Shakespearian scholar, was an actress. She collaborated with her husband on several important Shakespeare texts. Henry Courtney Selous, 1803 – 1890, was an English painter, illustrator and lithographer. He was the son of a Flemish portrait and miniature painter, and a pupil of John Martin who was an important and influential English painter of the 19th century. He entered the Royal Academy in 1818.


William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor. He is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England’s national poet and the “Bard of Avon” (or simply “the Bard”). His extant works, including collaborations, consist of some 39 plays, 154 sonnets, three long narrative poems, and a few other verses, some of uncertain authorship. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright. Shakespeare remains arguably the most influential writer in the English language, and his works continue to be studied and reinterpreted.

Shakespeare was born and raised in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire. At the age of 18, he married Anne Hathaway, with whom he had three children: Susanna, and twins Hamnet and Judith. Sometime between 1585 and 1592, he began a successful career in London as an actor, writer, and part-owner of a playing company called the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, later known as the King’s Men. At age 49 (around 1613), he appears to have retired to Stratford, where he died three years later. Few records of Shakespeare’s private life survive; this has stimulated considerable speculation about such matters as his physical appearance, his sexuality, his religious beliefs and whether the works attributed to him were written by others.

Shakespeare produced most of his known works between 1589 and 1613. His early plays were primarily comedies and histories and are regarded as some of the best works produced in these genres. He then wrote mainly tragedies until 1608, among them Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth, all considered to be among the finest works in the English language. In the last phase of his life, he wrote tragicomedies (also known as romances) and collaborated with other playwrights.

Many of Shakespeare’s plays were published in editions of varying quality and accuracy during his lifetime. However, in 1623, John Heminges and Henry Condell, two fellow actors and friends of Shakespeare’s, published a more definitive text known as the First Folio, a posthumous collected edition of Shakespeare’s dramatic works that includes 36 of his plays. Its preface was a prescient poem by Ben Jonson, a former rival of Shakespeare, that hailed Shakespeare with the now famous epithet: “not of an age, but for all time”.

Condition notes

Binding worn and some stains

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