Rare complete first printing of the Ellen Terry miniature Shakespeare library, in the original hinged wooden box.
Near fine in very good plus box.
THE ELLEN TERRY SHAKESPEARE
"Ellen Terry is the most beautiful name in the world; it rings like a chime through the last quarter of the nineteenth century." (George Bernard Shaw)
Exquisite turn-of-the-century miniature forty-volume Shakespeare set, published by a specialist in the miniature book format and dedicated to Ellen Terry, the greatest Shakespeare interpreter of her age, with her kind permission and endorsement. Along with the complete plays, the set includes the Sonnets, Venus and Adonis and Rape of Lucrece, and a Glossary. Issued in several variant bindings and also sold as individual volumes, full sets are rare, particularly in the presentation box.
The Shakespeare set was issued at the height of Terry's mature artistic career and directly after she assumed management of the Imperial Theatre in 1903. With creative control, Terry hoped to use her fame and her new company to showcase the plays of Ibsen and Shaw, whose acquaintance and correspondent she was; the company toured England in 1904 to mixed success. Though she promoted and starred in works by a number of modern playwrights, Terry's stature as celebrity and cultural authority was inextricably bound up with her Shakespearean roles, and kept there by a public and a press that persistently identified her with them; though artistically constricting in some ways, Terry's beloved public image and appeal to an extraordinarily broad range of admirers also gave her great authority and influence. As Gail Marshall writes, referencing the reverent tone of contemporary interviews: "Shakespeare and Terry confirm and 'sell' each other in an age of celebrity endorsement."
Read more: Julian I. Edison, "William Shakespeare," in Miniature Book News #3: 1966 March; Marshall, "Ellen Terry," in Great Shakespeareans VI.
Glasgow: David Bryce and Son, (1904). 7.25'' x 5'' x 2'' (box). 40 volumes, 2'' x 1.5'' each. Each volume hand-bound in varying shades of dark teal, green, and brown limp leather with gilt-lettered spines. Coat of arms blind-stamped to front leather wrapper. All edges gilt. Pale marbled endpapers. Each volume number (1 - 40) printed on left-hand corner of front endpaper. Engraved frontispieces. "Carefully edited and compared with the best texts" by J Talfourd Blair. Oak presentation box with metal hinges and closure. Printed paper title label to inside of lid, with full forty-volume title list. Volumes mostly near fine, with a few plays showing signs of rubbing and external wear, mainly to spines. Fading to spine lettering on some volumes; most bright. Box lacking closure clasp; hinges fully attached and functional. Small spot to top of lid; very few scratches or signs of wear otherwise.
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