14 April 2004
[MARTIN-HARVEY, John, Sir (1863-1944)]. SHAKESPEARE, William. The Works of Shakespeare. The Tragedy of Hamlet. Ed. Edward Dowden. London: Methuen & Co., 1899.
8o (220 x 146 mm). Title printed in red and black. (Some spotting.) Original red cloth (lightly rubbed). Provenance: Sir John Martin-Harvey, actor and manager (bookplate; notes throughout).
SIR JOHN MARTIN-HARVEY'S ANNOTATED COPY OF 'HAMLET'. Some thirty pages bear Harvey's pencil marginalia, most refering to stage and performance direction, but some concerning the psychological motives of the characters. In Act II, scene II between Rosencrantz, Guildenstern and Hamlet, Martin-Harvey writes: "I imagine this speech, beyond Ros. or Guil., to be taken by them as an indication of H's madness" (p.75). Later in the scene after Polonius exits, Hamlet asks the Players if they can perform The Murder of Gonzago, and Martin-Harvey writes: "When did this idea occur to him?" (p.91). 4 pages of notes are laid in detailing Martin-Harvey's interpretations of Hamlet and Shakespeare: "I have no doubt that much ingenious intention is read into S. which was never intended..." Also laid in is a typed letter to Martin-Harvey from Alexander MacGregory responding to the actor's inquiry about the reading of the First Player's line. He notes that he has examined the reading in the first folio edition, as well as the 1603, 1605 and 1611 editions at the British Museum and concludes that there are indeed variant readings of the line which had interested Martin-Harvey.
Sir John Martin-Harvey was one of the great Hamlets of the early 20th century. In 1881 he had joined Sir Henry Irving's company, and with Irving he travelled four times to the United States. He first produced the play in Dublin in 1904 and brought it to London in 1905. He revived it in 1916 as part of the tercentenary celebrations at His Majesty's Theatre and in 1919 crowned his career with the famous production at Covent Garden.
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