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Shakespeare and Early Grangerizing

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Shakespeare and Early Grangerizing


Unknown printmaker after Anthony Van Dyck. King Charles I. Print, 1793

Charles Walmesley (1722–97), a Catholic bishop and mathematician, assembled extra-illustrated volumes of the scholarly Johnson-Steevens edition of Shakespeare some time after its publication in 1793. The great majority of the plates Walmesley inserted show historical characters, revealing Walmesley’s greater interest in the plays’ antiquarian value than their dramatic force. Some are individual portraits as recommended by James Granger; others are taken from collections specially printed for use in extra-illustration. Only a very few depict scenes in which the plays are set, or show actors in character. The image above, for instance, depicts Charles I (1600–49) opposite a footnote reference to his trial, used by the editors to clarify a detail of formal speech in Measure for Measure. The volumes exemplify an early stage of Shakespearean extra-illustration stressing historical biography, while moving toward the actors and settings that will later dominate.


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