14 April 2004
SHAKESPEARE, William (1564-1616). M. William Shake-speare, His True Chronicle History of the life and death of King Lear, and his three Daughters. London: Printed for Nathaniel Butter, 1608 [i.e. William Jaggard for Thomas Pavier, 1619].
4o (177 x 125 mm). Collation: A-L4. 44 leaves. (First line of title cropped, a few head-lines shaved.) Red morocco gilt, edges gilt, by Riviere; cloth slipcase.
EXTREMELY RARE SECOND EDITION, following the 1608 first edition which was made up of varying combinations of corrected and uncorrected sheets. This edition was set-up from a copy containing uncorrected sheets D, G, and H. "This is one of the Jaggard-Pavier 1619 quartos but was possibly issued with the consent of Butter, part owner of the copyright, and perhaps also with that of John Busby, his partner" (Pforzheimer).
Founded on the well-known story which appeared in Holinshed's Chronicle and earlier histories, the play was written during 1606 and was first performed at Court on December 26th the same year. Its direct plot source was an earlier play, entitled The True Chronicle History of King Leir and his Three Daughters, first acted in 1594 (but not printed until 1605). "The story is mentioned in Warner's Albion's England; Higgins' part of Mirror for Magistrates; and Spenser's Fairy Queen. Shakespeare is entirely responsible for the Fool and for the by-plot of Gloucester and his two sons, which he took from a passage in Sidney's Arcadia" (Bartlett).
It was first published in 1608, of which twelve copies are known to survive. Bartlett lists 32 copies of the second edition of King Lear, not including this copy. Bartlett 92; see Bartlett/Census, pp. 47-50; STC 22293; Greg 265b; Pforzheimer 887.
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Leaf A4 is in facsimile. The New Estimate is $40,000-$60,000.
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