on exhibit November 13, 2002 through March 1, 2003

Eighteenth Century

The editorial tradition that has so influenced Shakespeare studies began in the eighteenth century. It was also a time when men of letters had dual passions, an age of the scholar-collector (Steevens, Malone), writer-editor (Pope, Dr. Johnson), and a period when great literary collections were amassed (Rawlinson,Garrick, Steevens, Malone) that have been preserved in institutions like the Folger. Eighteenth- and nineteenth-century auction records (especially for named sales like those for Steevens, Malone and Dr. Johnson) have helped us trace unmarked volumes to their famous owners.

Edmund Malone (1741-1812)

You are the best book-jockey that ever existed
Lord Charlemont to Malone after the Narcissus Lutrell auction, 1786

Sir Joshua Reynolds. E. Malone Esqr. Engraving, after a portrait by Joshua Reynolds, 1787.

W.W. Greg called Edmund Malone "the greatest of Shakespeare's editors." Malone's collection of dramatic literature was superb, second only to David Garrick's, and enlarged by 1,000 early printed plays given him by George Steevens, another editor of Shakespeare, one of the more remarkable gestures in the history of collecting.

Thomas Rawlinson (1681-1725)

This leviathan of book-collectors

John Fisher. De ueritate corporis et sanguinis Christi in Eucharistia…. Cologne, Peter Quentel, 1527.

Thomas Rawlinson (1681-1725) was a bibliophile - bibliomaniac said some - whose accumulation of books at his residence in Gray's Inn compelled him to sleep in a passageway. Addison parodied Rawlinson's compulsions in the character of 'Tom Folio' in the The Tatler. When Rawlinson's collection was sold at auction, it required sixteen sales over twelve years, each sale taking from two to four weeks. Rawlinson was also a former owner of Henry VIII's schoolboy copy of Cicero, from which the exhibition takes its title..

Boswells's Tour to the Hebrides
Reynolds' Copy

James Boswell. Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides, with Samuel Johnson…. London, H. Baldwin, 1785.
Courtesy of Paul T. Ruxin.

Boswell presented this first state of the first edition of Tour to the Hebrides to Sir Joshua Reynolds, who has marked passages and added brief marginal notes. "From the Author" is in Reynolds' hand, as Boswell appears not to have himself inscribed any presentation copies of the first edition, only later editions. Reynolds is known to have advised Boswell during composition of Tour and Boswell later dedicated his Life of Jonhson to Reynolds.

Dr. Johnson's Copy of Hobbes' Leviathan?

Thomas Hobbes. Leviathan…. London [Amsterdam], Andrew Crooke, 1651 [1680].
Courtesy of Paul T. Ruxin.

Books from Dr. Johnson's library are rare, and signed copies are extraordinary as Johnson was famous for not marking his books. David Fleeman estimates as few as 38 books carry Johnson's signature, so this copy of Hobbes' most famous work is an exceptional item, if it is indeed signed by Johnson. At issue is the degree to which the signature varies from known examples of Dr. Johnson's handwriting. Did this book belong to the famous Dr. Johnson, or another Samuel Johnson?

Exhibition Highlights

| Writers' Books | Collectors | Markings | Signatures | Henry VIII | Actors' Books | Ordinary Books Made Famous | Bindings | Manuscript Book Lists | Women Collectors | Inscriptions | Alexander Pope | Quiet Lives | Myne? |

Curator's Notes | Visiting the Folger

This page updated March 10, 2003