14 April 2004
[GUINNESS, Alec, Sir (1914-2000)]. SHAKESPEARE, William. Tragedy of Hamlet. London: J.M. Dent, 1915.
16o (128 x 98 mm). Frontispiece. Original roan (front cover detached). Provenance: Kenneth Wilkinson, possibly renowned Decca recording engineer, 1912-2004 (signature on flyleaf); Sir Alec Guinness, English actor (signature on front flyleaf).
SIR ALEC GUINNESS'S COPY OF 'HAMLET', a volume of Dent's "Temple Shakespeare" edition. Numerous passages are crossed out in red and black ink, as well as in pencil, and there are several marginal annotations presumably by Guinness. Guinness had an early enthusiasm for drama, and won his first role as a messenger in a production of Macbeth. From the start, Guinness was a favorite of the critics. He appeared in John Gielgud's revival of Romeo and Juliet in 1935 and understudied Laurence Olivier in a 1936-37 production of Hamlet at the Old Vic. He played the lead in Hamlet for the first time in 1937, in a modern-dress version of the play directed by Tyrone Guthrie.
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