The Two Noble Kinsmen Presented at the Blackfriars by the Kings Maiesties Servants, with Great Applause.

London, Thomas Cotes, for John Waterson, 1634.


FIRST EDITION, 4to. pp. (ii), 88, (ii). pi1(=N2), B-M4, N1. Roman letter, some Italic. Woodcut printer’s device on title, typographical headpiece and opening initial, Selbourne library stamp just touching text on verso of title and H2 recto, note on front endpaper “Halliwell’s Sale. May 1856. Lot 331. William Tite,” with note in another hand “This binding cost me £1.18.0.” Light age yellowing, title fractionally dusty, small rust hole to G4 touching two letters, signature letter of B3 just shaved in lower margin, very small repairs to gutter of title, small hole repaired in blank margin of M2, blank outer corner repaired on last two leaves. A very good, crisp copy in fine C19th red morocco by Bedford, covers bordered with double gilt rule, spine with gilt ruled raised bands, fleurons gilt to centres, edges gilt ruled, inner dentelles richly gilt, all edges red, extremities fractionally rubbed.

Exceptionally rare and important first edition, the only quarto edition, printed by Thomas Cotes who was also the printer of Fletcher’s ‘The Faithful Shepherdess’ (1629) and Shakespeare’s ‘Poems’ (1640). The play had not been included in the first folio of 1623, and did not find its way into the subsequent Shakespeare folios; but the quarto edition became the basis of the 1679 Beaumont and Fletcher folio text. The title states that it was ‘written by the memorable worthies of their time; Mr. Iohn Fletcher, and Mr. William Shakespeare. Gent,’ and modern scholarship has identified Shakespeare as the author of act I, act II scene 1, and act V.

Fletcher collaborated regularly with Beaumont, however this collaborative work between Fletcher and Shakespeare is unique. Based on Chaucer’s ‘Knight’s Tale,’ it was produced in either 1613 or 1614. ‘The Two Noble Kinsmen’ is set in ancient Greece during a war between Athens and Thebes. The narrative follows the title characters, Palamon and Arcite, noble youths whose friendship is destroyed by their mutual love for the beautiful Emilia. The subplot deals with the love and eventual madness of the Gaoler’s Daughter, who falls hopelessly in love with Palamon. The play also has echoes of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ as two of the major characters, Theseus and Hippolyta, also appear in the earlier play. The Rivals, a popular adaptation of the play by William D’Avenant, appeared in 1668 and 1669.

“The titlepage of The Two Noble Kinsmen states that it was ‘written by the memorable worthies of their time; Mr. Iohn Fletcher, and Mr. William Shakespeare. Gent’. Shakespeare has been identified as the author of act I, act II scene 1, and act V. The play was created in 1613 or 1614. The morris dance in act III scene 5 is related to the second antimasque dance in Francis Beaumont’s The Masque of the Inner Temple and Grayes Inne. The masque was performed as part of the wedding celebrations for James I’s daughter Elizabeth and Frederick, Elector Palatine on 20 February 1613. The name of Palamon, one of the principal characters in The Two Noble Kinsmen, is referred to in Ben Jonson’s Bartholomew Fair, first performed on 31 October 1614.The title-page of the quarto states that The Two Noble Kinsmen was ‘presented at the Blackfriars by the Kings Maiesties servants.’ A reference to ‘our losses’ in the play’s prologue suggests that it was written after the Globe burnt down on 29 June 1613. So it was perhaps written specifically for the Blackfriars playhouse. The Two Noble Kinsmen may have been considered for performance at court in 1619-1620. The inclusion of the names of two hired men (Tucke and Curtis) in the quarto’s stage directions suggests another revival in 1625-1626, when both were with the King’s Men. It has been suggested that the roles of Palamon and Arcite were originally played by John Lowin and Richard Burbage. The much younger actors Nathan Field and Joseph Taylor may have been intended for the roles in the 1619-1620 performances. (The) quarto, 1634 is thought to have been printed from a scribal transcript, to which revisions were made for performances in 1613-1614 and a revival in 1625-1626.” British Library, “Shakespeare Quartos.”

This copy is presumably the one offered in the Tite sale in 1874, also in red morocco by Bedford., lot 2762, which was sold to Hazlitt. William Carew Hazlitt (1834-1913) was a bibliographer and Shakespeare collector, grandson of the essayist William Hazlitt. Hazlitt published extensively on early English literature and in 1878 Mr. Huth engaged W.C. Hazlitt and F.S. Ellis to catalog his collection, the former cataloging English works, and the latter foreign. Hazlitt was also an assiduous collector and gathered in the course of his lifetime an impressive library of Shakespeare works and source texts, the basis for his Shakespeare’s Library, published in six volumes in 1887, an early and important edition of the works. The collection, itself of great literary importance, was sold in New York, 1918.

First editions of Shakespeare quartos have always been the holy grail of bibliophiles and collectors of British literature, immensely sought after as the high water marks of British culture and world literature, especially as these ephemeral printings appear so rarely on the market. They are considerably rarer than the folios. A handsome copy of this wonderful and rare work with distinguished provenance.

ESTC S106283 STC 11075. Greg II, 492(a); Pforzheimer 899.


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BROME, Richard


The Antipodes: a Comedie. Acted in the Yeare 1638, by the Queenes Majesties Servants, at Salisbury Court in Fleet-street.

London, I. Okes, for Francis Constable, 1640.


FIRST EDITION. 4to. 44 unnumbered leaves. A-L⁴. Roman letter, some Italic. Typographical headpieces, woodcut initials, Selbourne library stamp on verso of title and F4, ‘1687’ and ‘1658’ manuscript on F4, “Charles Hunees (?) His Booke” in early hand on verso of D3, extensive inscription in mid-seventeenth hand entirely inked over on margin of A2 verso, alongside the printed character list, on A4v, names of 14 actors in contemporary manuscript; “Scenæ / Antipodes = London” in the same hand below; Series of page numbers, on the upper left or upper right corners, small tear to lower margin of first four leaves. “Similar numbering in a comparable hand appears in a British Library copy of The Sparagus Garden (London, 1640) owned formerly by W. W. Greg.” Joshua J. McEvilla. Light age yellowing, cut a little short in lower margin, a few signatures and catchwords fractionally shaved, the occasional ink splash mark or spot. A very good copy in red crushed morocco ‘Jansenist’ by Riviere, circa 1900, title, author and date gilt on upper cover, edges gilt ruled, inner dentelles richly gilt, all edges gilt, marbled endpapers.

First edition, exceptionally rare, of Richard Brome’s best work, his comic masterpiece, with a most important, recently discovered, cast list in manuscript which “helps to illuminate the state of the Salisbury Court players in 1638, directly following the reopening of the theatres after several months of closures due to outbreaks of plague.” Joshua J. McEvilla, p. 171. ‘The Antipodes’ was first acted at Salisbury Court, in Fleet Street, in 1638. The main character, Peregrine, becomes obsessed with the travels of Mandeville to the point that it makes him ill. The Doctor, who undertakes to cure him, proposes that they should travel together to the Antipodes, telling him that the Antipodes under England are English “To the exterior show; but in their manners, Their carriage, and condition of life, Extremely contrary,” a place of inversions and reversals. He then gives his patient a strong sleeping potion, and conveys him to the house of a lord.

When Peregrine wakes, a play is acted before him to represent the manners of the Antipodes. Everything is performed in a contrary fashion to what is normal; two sergeants with drawn swords run from a gentleman who wishes them to arrest him; a lawyer refuses all fees; a citizen makes a complaint of a gentleman who will not cuckold him, etc., etc. At the conclusion of the play, Peregrine recovers his senses. The title page of this first edition states that the play was acted in 1638 by Queen Henrietta’s Men at the Salisbury Court Theatre, the regular troupe and venue for Brome’s dramas from 1637. Critics typically situate Richard Brome’s ‘The Antipodes’ in a satiric tradition of travel writing in the vein of Joseph Hall’s ‘Mundus Alter et Idem’ (1605), arguing that the play is allegorical and a travel drama which, in being a play, goes nowhere and everywhere.

“The Antipodes is a veritable tour de force. It is not surprising that the company at the Salisbury Court Theatre were prepared to go to court to wrest the play away from the Beestons at the Cockpit, claiming a prior right to stage it on account of a contract that they had allowed virtually to lapse during the plague months, when the theatres were closed. Brome claimed that the profits accruing to Queen Henrietta Maria’s Men, Richard Heton’s company at the Salisbury Court, were considerable, which suggests they had a popular success on their hands. That the play was available in print as a quarto two years after the initial performances again attests to its popularity. No other play by Brome has such an intricately woven dramatic fabric or is so layered in its satirical strategies and ways of creating meaning. A consequence of this is that The Antipodes has attracted more critical commentary than Brome’s other plays, where the sheer range of approaches intimates how dense the dramatic fabric is.” R. Cave, ‘The Antipodes, Critical Introduction.’

The early provenance of this copy is most intriguing. There is no direct evidence as to who wrote the list of players, though the manuscript on A2 might disclose this, however there is no doubt of the authenticity and the importance of the list. “These aspects of the book’s provenance, although noteworthy, are perhaps rendered immaterial by the self-validating nature of the cast list. As noted above, the Brome contract proceedings record the composition of the players at Salisbury Court at two historical instances. …  The membership of the company as specified by the Selboune list seems to correspond to the membership as suggested by the contract documents and the book’s title page. According to the title page, ‘The Antipodes’ was ‘Acted in the yeare 1638 by the Queenes Majesties Servants, at Salisbury Court in Fleet-street.’ Since nine of the players of the list were plaintiffs in the suit against Brome and since the players of the merger are on the list, the list appears to convey genuine information. … One aspect of the list which serves both to authenticate its fidelity as a piece of evidence and to expand scholarly knowledge of period drama is the way that it falls in line with an important dialogue from the late seventeenth century.

James Wright’s ‘Historia Histrionica: An Historical Account of the English-Stage’ (London, 1699) remains a cornerstone to scholars’ accounts of the playhouses of the Shakespearian stage. The cast list in Selbourne’s copy of ‘The Antipodes’ serves to authenticate one claim made in this oddly nostalgic piece. Trueman, when discoursing with another character, Lovewit, casts a glance back at the conditions of public playing in England before the outbreak of war. He notes that ‘Cartwright, and Wintershal belong’d to the private House in Salisbury-Court’ (B2r). Although Kathman has used this allusion as evidence, no solid piece of evidence has drawn William Wintershall and Cartwright, the younger, to the same playhouse at the same time. Where scholars have had to rely on Wright’s memory in order to argue that these players were colleagues, the Selbourne list establishes that they played together at Salisbury Court.”

Joshua J. McEvilla suggests that the numbering of the pages is in the hand of the great Shakespeare scholar W. W. Greg, and was perhaps bound in a collection of other works in his library. His greatest achievement, among many, was ‘A Bibliography of the English Printed Drama to the Restoration,’ published in four volumes between 1939 and 1959. This work is exceptionally rare on the market with only one other copy in auction records. An exceptionally important copy.

STC 3818. ESTC S106712. Pforzheimer 106. Not in Lowndes or Grolier. For an in depth discussion of the list of players names see Joshua J. McEvilla, ‘The Original Salisbury Court Players of Richard Brome’s The Antipodes’, Notes and Queries, 2012.


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Comoediae Novem.

Venice, Apud Aldum, 1498.


EDITIO PRINCEPS. Folio. 346 unnumbered leaves, lacking two blanks. Text in Aldus’ large Greek type 146, 41 lines of scholia surrounding in smaller (type114), Aldus’ preface in Roman. Woodcut strap-work initials in two sizes and headpieces. Early Greek marginalia in brown ink mostly to first quarter of volume. Title page very slightly soiled and strengthened at gutter, two leaves slightly browned (probably damp at printing), couple of minor marginal tears, last leaf with small old marginal repairs, strengthened at gutter, slightly soiled on verso. A very good copy, crisp, clean and well margined in C17 vellum over boards C18 mottling, gilt red morocco labels and gilt thistle motif on spine, C19 ms. bibl. notes on front pastedown, Walter Hirst’s charming bookplate and Sir Thomas Philip’s pencilled shelf mark beneath, earlier ink lettering (press mark?) on rear pastedown, Quaritch pencil note beneath.

A very handsome copy of the beautiful first printed edition of Aristophanes comprising the first nine plays (10 and 11 were not published till 1525) and one of the chef d’oeuvres of Aldus’ early Greek press. The editor was Marcus Musurus, the celebrated Greek humanist, who also contributed an excellent preface on the reasons for studying Greek and the stylistic beauty of Aristophanes. Aldus founded his career on the publication of Greek texts, the first printer to do so, with this type designed and cast on new principles which he perfected over a period of five years. To his scholarly care we owe more of the editiones principes of the major Greek classics than to any other printer and the Aristophanes, texturally and artistically, was one of his finest achievements.

Aristophanes was the greatest of the Athenian comic dramatists and one of her greatest poets. For richness and fertility of imagination probably only Shakespeare is comparable and Aristophanes’ direct influence on English literature was considerable; the comedies of Jonson, Middleton and Fielding derive from him. Apart from constituting one of the surviving glories of hellenic culture Aristophanes’ comedies are an invaluable source for its social history. His surviving plays, out of a probable forty or fifty, provide us with an accurate if satirical commentary on the political, religious, sexual, economical and domestic life of Athens over a period of thirty six years. His changes in style and content match the concurrent constitutional and social changes in the State itself. The plays’ themes are invariably contemporary, a mocking mirror to the condition of the city. This edition has the benefit of the scholia of Thomas Magister, John Tzetzes and Demetrius Triclinus themselves incorporating much of the more ancient commentaries of Appolonius, Callimaches, Didymus and others, which were superseded in later editions by much newer but also much inferior work.

“Première et belle édition (…) Les Scolies sont dans cette importante et belle édition imprimées bien plus correctement que dans la reimpression faite à Florence 1525” Renouard, 16:3.

“Premiere édition belle et rare” Brunet I 451.

BMC V 559. GW, 2333. Goff, A-958. Sander I 580. Essling I 2,2 1163.


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Comedies, Histories and Tragedies. Published according to the true originall copies

London by Tho Cotes, for Robert Allot, 1632.

Price on request

Folio, pp. (xx) 303 (i) 232, 419 (i). Text in double column, prefatory matter single, Roman and Italic letter. Ionic head and shoulders English portrait of Shakespeare by Martin Droeshout on title page in unusually fine impression (the author’s best known representation), woodcut initials and headpieces. Address “To the Reader (by Ben Jonson)” inlaid on blank. Lower outer corner of first three leaves slightly soiled. Wine (?) stain to blank outer corner of next three, reappearing very occasionally in text, a few marginal tears and spots, light age yellowing, last leaf dusty. A very good, clean, well margined copy (fuller than Pforzheimers and the same width) in handsome late c. 17 calf spine with gilt compartments, morocco label, arms of the Second Duke of Newcastle, gilt stamped in central panel on covers, joints repaired, directions to binder on rear pastedown, (c17?) autograph of Thomas Wright in red chalk on fore margin of t1, autograph of Edward Filmer (1717) at head of fly and address to reader, and of Viscount Mersey (1938) on fly. In folding box.

A handsome and important copy of the second folio edition of Shakespeare’s plays in the first variant issue and the second authoritative version of the Shakespearian canon. Published 16 years after the authors death, it differs very significantly from the quartos, and is largely reproduced from the first volume (1623). It is from this version of the text that all modern versions derive. Were one asked to nominate the two most important works in the English language, culturally, historically, and linguistically, the Shakespeare folio and the King James Bible would be the obvious choices. As Printing and the Mind of Man 122 (on the first folio) puts it, “the magic of Shakespeare’s poetry is potent only in his own tongue; but the great theatrical scenes, the great dramatic figures are universal. Hamlet’s doubts, the doomed love of Romeo and Juliet, Brutus’ dilemma, the Falstafian image, the characters of Jago, Petruchio, and Lady Macbeth are part of the fabric of western (and not only western) civilisation….they are more real to us than the history books.”

This edition is also notable as containing the first appearance in print of any work of John Milton’s, his prophetic 16-line epitaph on the author that his great lasting monument is “not a starre-y pointing pyramid” but his “unvalued book.”

A very nice association copy. Filmer was a playwright and author, whose tragedy “The Unnatural Brother” was first performed at the theatre in Little Lincoln’s Inn Fields, a place well-known to Shakespeare, whom Filmer much admired. When Collier attacked the English stage (including Shakespeare) in print, Filmer defended both in a sensible and well-written treatise entitled “The Defence of Plays or the Stage Vindicated” (1707) to which Collier was compelled to reply. It was one of the first significant literary controversies immortalised in print.

Henry Clinton, Second Duke of Newcastle (1720 – 1744), was one of the great Whig magnates of his day. Though he played no direct part in politics, his huge influence in so many parliamentary constituencies meant his political support could not be ignored. For his cousin, Sir Henry Clinton, he procured the ill-fated command of the British forces in North America during the Revolution. At Clumber in Nottinghamshire he created one of the most beautiful parks in England. The house there was demolished in 1938, and the present volume sold from the splendid library the previous year along with a great Audubon “America,” and the Lamoignan Hours. Viscount Mersey formed a remarkable collection of important early books during the mid c. 20. Every volume was chosen with care, and he recognised the importance of original condition with appropriate binding long before that became common.

STC 22274 a. Pforzheimer III906. PMM 122 (1st). Greg III pp. 1113-1116. Todd volume V (1952) pp. 81-108.


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LOREDANO, Giovanni Francesco


La Matringa.

Venice, Libraria della Speranza, 1601.


FIRST EDITION. 8vo. pp. 128. Italic letter. Small woodcut printer’s device on title, title within small woodcut ornament, floriated woodcut initials, woodcut head and tailpieces, “Ronald Bayne 1896” manuscript on fly, bookplate of Allardyce Nicoll on pastedown. Pp. 64, 65, and verso of last dusty, occasional marginal dust soiling in places. A good copy in C18th marbled paper over boards, spine worn, boards slightly soiled.

Rare first and only early edition of this bawdy comedy by the prolific playwright Giovanni Loredano (not to be confused with his more famous namesake, the founder of the Accademica degli Incogniti), published eleven years after his death by his son, Sebastiano who adapted and published it under his father’s name. Loredano’s work is now almost forgotten despite the fact that he was one of the more interesting late C16th Italian playwrights. His ‘La Malandrina’ is considered one of the most original comedies of the entire century, with an exotic and unusual setting, and an effective use of brutal realism in the depiction of deception and greed.

Only two of his plays were published in his lifetime, ‘La Malandrina,’ and ‘I Vani amori,’ and five more in the decade after his death which underlines his continued contemporary popularity. Giorgio Padoan, in his ‘L’Avventura della Commedia Rinascimentale,’ states that he was the author of a further eleven plays, the manuscripts of which were unfortunately lost in a shipwreck (or fortunately, in Padoan’s words). His later works, and especially this one, are ribald, picaresque and often violent, using crude and direct language, suggesting that Loredano’s son was more than just their publisher.

His work is revelatory of the type of popular entertainment produced in Venice in the late C16. “L’unico vero interesse di queste commedie può essere ritrovato in possibili indiretti rapporti con le recite dell`Arte, la cui conoscenza sembra non senza influsso sul Loredan. Notevole è nei ‘Vani amori’ (a. IV sc. 9) un cenno a quegli attori professionisti: la cui attività era stata censurata in Venezia dall’editto del 1581”. Giorgio Padoan. This work is particularly rare: we have only located two copies in libraries outside Italy.

Ronald Bayne (1859–1922), Vicar of Holy Trinity, Greenwich, wrote for the Dictionary of National Biography; his Articles are signed “R. B.” He had a considerable reputation as a scholar, although he published little apart from a new edition of Book V. of Hooker’s “Ecclesiastical Polity,” (1902).

BM STC C17th It. Vol. 1 p.500. Fontanini I 408. Not in Gamba.


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La Semiramis, Tragedia.

Bergamo, Comin Ventura, 1593.


FIRST EDITION. 4to. ff. (iv) 92. Italic letter. Printer’s ‘Fortune’ device on title, floriated woodcut initials and head and tail-pieces, typographical ornaments, bookplate of Allardyce Nicoll on fly. Light waterstaining to upper margin at gutter. A good, well margined copy in contemporary limp vellum.

Uncommon first edition of this tragic verse play by Manfredi, dedicated to Cardinal Farnese, the Duke of Parma, which concerns incestuous unions among members of the family of the mythical warrior queen Semiramis, unions that are expiated through violent death. The work ends with forty-eight pages of verse in praise of the author by numerous contemporary poets and literary figures, such as Guidobaldo Bonnarelli, Ferrando Gonzaga, Tasso, Ariosto, Camilli, and Baldini.

Manfredi, a poet and dramatist from Cesena, was a member of the noble Manfredi family of Faenza. He was employed at the French court in Nancy as secretary to the Duchess of Brunswick, where he wrote this, his most famous work. He was extremely well connected in Italian literary circles. Diomede Borghesi in one of his letters refers to having met with Tasso and describes him as “da costumi preclarissimi, e da bellisima letteratura.” This work was clearly based upon the the ‘Orcheche’ of Giraldi in its emphasis on revenge and gore. Manfredi wrote another work published the same year as this one entitled ‘La Semiramis boscareccia’ concerning the Queen’s happier youth.

“The first Semiramis drama of modern times is that of Mutio Manfredi (Bergamo 1593). This is firmly based on the grisly tale of Orosius, and adds echoes of Seneca’s play Thyestes. It forms the background to most of the seventeenth century versions; the lascivious, murderous Semiramis was well suited to Baroque taste, with its love of remote ambiences, amorous intrigues, and mistaken identity, warlike parades and travesty parts. … The parallel with the Oedipus story was obvious” Raymond Monelle, ‘Semiramide redenta.’ This first edition is rare outside Italian libraries.

BM STC It. C16th p. 409. Fontanini. I p. 518. Not in Gamba.


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Sententiae, id est gnomai.

Geneva, Henri Estienne, 1569.


16mo, pp. (xxxii) 633 (i.e. 635), (v) last blank. Italic, Greek, and Roman letter. Woodcut headpieces, with Shirburn Castle North Library label, armorial bookplate of the Earl of Macclesfield on fly. Late mediaeval rubricated vellum manuscript stubbs at end. Slight water stain to lower outer corner of final ll., fly loose. A very good copy in contemporary English vellum, yapp fore edges. Edges speckled red.

This little book, ‘pusillus liber’ as Estienne terms it in his dedication, contrasting it with his great folio of the epic poets printed in 1566, is nonetheless important in content. It contains sententiae (gnomai in Greek), culled from plays written by Menander et al., promoters of the New Comedy that came into fashion in the third century B.C. In the sixteenth century, such sententiae were collected and cultivated as suitable for quotations in speech and writing, and little collections such as this were very convenient for busy men of affairs; indeed blank pages were left so that further sententiae could be added by the reader, a point made at the end of the section on the playwright Philemon (pp. 316-417).

The work consists of chapters, each devoted to a different New Comedy playwright (Alexis, Apollodorus, Diphilus i.a.), with by far the longest given to Menander, probably because more of his work survived, albeit in fragments, than any of the others. A short biographical introduction by Gregorio Giraldi precedes a list of sententiae taken from each author, the original Greek followed by a Latin translation and explanation. An alphabetical list of subjects, e.g. friendship and drunkenness, are followed by suitable sententiae (for laughter: ‘malum grave est ridere non in tempore’), mostly taken from Menander. Henri Estienne’s own notes on the interpretation of the sententiae follow, with examples from Latin comic playwrights, such as Plautus, author of the Asinaria, some of whom are only known in this fragmentary form. Those from Publius Syrius are again organised by subject.

Greek New Comedy largely differed from the Old Comedy of e.g. Aristophanes by its focus on middle-class Athenian life and the comedy of social errors. The plays are populated by a stock cast of foolish young men, wily slaves, kind-hearted prostitutes, and put-upon fathers. The Roman playwrights Plautus and Terence were responsible for translating the Greek works into Latin. Most of the surviving fragments of New Comedy have come down to us through collections of sententiae such as this; happily some larger fragments have recently been discovered on papyri.

Renouard 132:3. Adams P1694. Brunet II 1080.


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I Lucidi comedia (with) Trinutia Comedia.

Venice, Giovanni Griffio and Pietro Boselli, 1552.


12mo. Two works in one volume. ff. 41 (i) + 40 (ii), last blank. Italic letter. Charming woodcut printer’s device of a knight riding a bull on titles and on verso of last in both volumes, elegant historiated initials, typographical ornaments. ‘Francesco Mainarri Ferrarese 1765’ manuscript on title page, ‘Mutius’ manuscript in early hand in lower border of all four printer’s devices, ‘A Gio Antonio Balii (?) di Lugo’ on fly, ‘Guilio Magnani’ on blank recto of last. A little light browning in places. Very good copies in mid 17C Italian speckled calf, spine with raised bands ruled in compartments with large fleur de lys gilt, tan morocco label gilt edges speckled blue.

Excellent editions of the only two comedies written by the lawyer, poet, playwright, and monk of the Vallambrosian order, Firenzuola. He studied law in Siena at the turn of the sixteenth century and later wrote with unconcealed bitterness about the years he spent “with great effort and without any pleasure [pursuing the study of] the ill-served laws of the most noble and lively city of Siena”. He seems to have spent most of his University years in the company of like minded students particularly Pietro Aretino to whom he is most indebted in his literary career. Aretino later reminisced fondly about their misspent youth.

Whilst in Rome, in the service of his order, Firenzuola moved in the literary circle that included Pietro Aretino, Frasceso Molza, Paolo Giovio, and the future archbishop Giovanni Casa. He wrote an amusing satirical treaty on orthography in which he argued, in a comic vein, against the proposed introduction into Italian of several Greek letters, a work that was much appreciated by Pope Clement VII and Bembo, and lead a short lived literary fame. His subsequent works met with a lukewarm response in Rome. In 1538, in Prato, he began to write again after a pause of nearly twenty years. His dialogue “On the Beauty of Women” and these two comedies are the fruit of this period.

He died in obscurity but his works were posthumously successful, underwent several editions with critical attention and were translated into French. His two comedies are written in contemporary Tuscan vernacular and are typical of his best work. In prose, their structure, plot and language are fully entrenched in the genre of sixteenth-century Italian erudite theatre. The first play takes its plot and many of its lines and witticisms from Plautus’ Menaechmi. The second borrows its novelistic structure from Cardinal Bibbiena’s play Calandria. Both were performed in Prato at Carnival. An attractive copy of these elegantly printed works.

BM STC It. C16. p. 253-4 Fontanini p. 389 – 390. Not in Gamba.


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Venice, Aldus, 1503.


EDITIO PRINCEPS. 2 volumes 8vo. (242) (216) unnumbered ff. Volume I: Α-Γ⁸, Δ⁴, Ε-Η⁸, Θ⁶, Ι-Λ⁸, Μ⁶, ΝΞ⁸, Ο¹⁰, Π-Ρ⁸, Σ¹⁰, Τ-Υ⁸, Φ⁶, Χ-Ω⁸, ΑΑ-ΒΒ⁸, ΓΓ⁶, ΔΔ-ΖΖ⁸, ΗΗ⁶. Volume II: ΘΘ-ΙΙ⁸, ΚΚ¹⁰, moved from volume I [Lacking (chi)⁴ the register and Aldine device] ΛΛ⁸, ΜΜ¹⁰, ΝΝ-ΟΟ⁸, ΠΠ-ΡΡ⁸, ΣΣ¹⁰, ΤΤ⁸, ΥΥ⁶, ΦΦ-ΧΧ⁸, ΨΨ⁴, ΩΩ⁸, ΑΑΑ-ΒΒΒ⁸, ΓΓΓ⁶, ΔΔΔ-ΖΖΖ⁸, ΗΗΗ⁶, ΘΘΘ-ΚΚΚ⁸, ΛΛΛ⁴. (Δ4, Φ6, ΗΗ6, ΣΣ10 and ΥΥ6 are blanks, all present.) Greek letter. Capital spaces, with guide letters, Aldine dolphin device to verso of last. A fine, clean copy in lovely dark blue straight grained morocco gilt, c.1800 in the style of Bozerian, covers with border of leafy scroll within gilt rules, inner dentelles gilt with Greek key roll, spines richly gilt, yellow silk endpapers, all edges gilt, a little rubbed at extremities.

EDITIO PRINCEPS of eighteen Euripidean plays (though the title page mentions only seventeen), including ‘Rhesus,’ sometimes attributed to Sophocles, but often considered a later addition to the corpus. All the tragedies with the exception of ‘Electra’ are present, as well as the satyr play ‘Cyclops.’ Edited by Aldus, all but four are here published for the first time. Frequently based on myths, Euripides explores a variety of themes in his work, from Xenia and the role of women in Alcestis, to the revenge and betrayal of the cuckolded wife in Medea, to hubris and misogyny in Hippolytus, to the aftermath of the Iliad in Andromache and Trojan Women, and a new take on Odysseus’ dealings with the Cyclopes in ‘Cyclops.’

“It would seem from the preface that only 1000 copies were printed” (Dibdin), making it a set of particular rarity as well as beauty. This collection was the first to unite the disparate manuscripts of Euripides, and therefore formed the foundation for much later study of the tragedies. Much of the lasting importance of Euripides is due to his literary innovations which must have been striking to his contemporaries. He created deus ex machina as a literary device, prominently featured strong women and slaves for the first time, and focused on real people and raw human emotions. His influence can be detected in the works of Joyce, Racine and Corneille.

This copy is deliberately, for aesthetic reasons, incomplete of the register and the Aldine device of the first vol. The binder, most probably at the behest of the owner, wanting to create a uniform size for the two volumes, moved the last play of Volume I to Volume II, and then discarded the register and Aldine printer’s device as this now appeared in the middle of the text, rather than the end of the volume. The binding is very fine and, though unsigned, is undoubtedly the work of Bozerian, perhaps the most fashionable of the late C18th French binders. A beautiful copy of one of the most important of the Aldine Editio Princeps.

BM STC It. C16th p. 239. Dibdin I 524 “frequently found in an imperfect or indifferent condition”. Adams E 1030. Renouard 43:10 “première et rare édition d’Euripide”. Brunet II 1095 “Cette édition est recherchée et les beaux exemplaires se trouvent difficilement.”


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PRYNNE, William

Histrio-Mastix, The Players Scourge, or, Actors Tragaedie…

London, Printed by E. A[llde, A. Mathewes, T. Cotes] and W[illiam]. I[ones]. for Michael Sparke, 1633


FIRST EDITION 4to. pp (xxxiv) 512; ff. 513-568 pp. 545-832 (ii) 831-1006 (xl). Roman and Italic letter, head- and tail-pieces. Slight age yellowing, the odd little waterstain towards end, light and mostly marginal. Tear to head of t.p without loss, two small marginal excisions, ancient repair to blank verso, couple of minor paper flaws to text. Contemp. MS annotations to initial blank, partial contemp. ms. index to final A good copy, in handsome contemp. binding of thick dark calf, covers triple ruled in blind, 4 raised bands, decorated bands at head and tail of spine, small repair to former.

FIRST EDITION of a work begun by Prynne in 1624, condemning stage plays as “the very Pompes of the Divell”. The argument for the immorality of theatre is drawn from an exhaustive number of sources which Prynne lists on the title page: Scripture, 55 Synods and Councils, 71 Christian Writers, over 150 Protestants and Papists, and 40 “Heathan Philosophers” and emporers. Prynne apologizes in his introduction for the length of the work, which he claims is absolutely necessary if he is to adequately combat such an “infectious leprosie” that has spread to City, Court and Country. The size of the treatise also relates to the size of the market for printed plays: Prynne reckons generously that over 40,000 had been printed in the past two years, and worse, that they are in better quality than other books: “Shackspeers Plaies are printed in the best Crowne paper, far better than most Bibles”. Ironically, the text is divided into Acts and Scenes. “Despite its unreadability as a whole this book still exercises a very genuine fascination” (Pforzheimer cit. infr.).

William Prynne (1600 – 1669), puritan polemicist and sometime barrister, did not so much live as rage throughout the major political upheavals of 17th century England. “The Cato of this age” at the best of times, “an indefatigable and impertinent scribbler” at the worst, his prolific output ranging from the sinfulness of toasting one’s health to more topical take-downs of Milton, lead Anthony Wood to remark: “I verily believe…he wrote a sheet for every day of his life” (DNB cit. infr.). This work, about a thousand pages longer than Prynne’s usual printed pamphlets, marked the beginning of his notoriety: “For the publication of this work the author was sentenced by the Star-chamber to pay a fine to the King of 5000l. to be degraded from his profession of the law and to lose his ears in the pillory” (Lowndes cit. infr.), reputedly because the publication coincided with the staging of “Shepherd’s Paradise”, in which Queen Henrietta Maria and her ladies featured. Distinct from Prynne’s overall hatred for the theatre, was his seething disapproval of female actors (“imprudent strumpets”). Not one to give up, Prynne continued to write tracts against Laud and episcopacy within prison and without. By the Civil War he was restored to his degree and to Lincoln’s Inn, was an ardent defender of the legality of Parliament, and spearheaded Laud’s prosecution, becoming something of a political figure. During the interregnum he found himself in and out of prison, remaining a key intermediary between politics and the public through his continuous outpouring of pamphlets. After the restoration he lived the rest of his life according to Wood as a very affable keeper of the records and archives in the Tower of London, receiving visitors “with old-fashion compliments such as were used in the reign of King James I”.

STC 20464a “Anr. issue, w. ‘Errataes’ on ***4v”. Pforzheimer II 809. Lowndes 5 p. 1987. DNB XVI 432-37. Not in Groiler.


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