Bell’s edition of Shakespeare Plays

Bell’s edition of Shakespeare’s plays as they are now performed at the Theatre Royal in London, Vol. V, containing Twelfth Night, Winter’s Tale, Julius Caesar, Coriolanus and Timon of Athens.

Dedicated to actor David Garrick, who championed Shakespeare, changed the way audiences saw the plays by his own style of performance and put on The Shakespeare Jubilee in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1769. The publishers were initially afraid of low sales but adverse criticism can prove to be the best aid to success, and the furore and negative publicity that surrounded its publishing prompted higher sales than any previous issue of the Bard’s plays up to that time, one week alone witnessing the sale of 800 sets.

Printed for John Bell near Exeter Exchange in The Strand, and for C. Etherington at York, 1774. Layton Collection 3317.

  • Bells’ multi-volume edition of the complete Shakespeare’s plays features beautiful typesetting and some stunning copperplates to accompany each play. Claiming texts and direction derived from the actual prompt book in use at the Theatre Royal at the time, the edition was none the less slated by the critics of the time as being the “worst ever published”.


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