521 Class 7

Reading 18C and 19C Edition Interfaces

The scholarly interface for early modern drama begins to develop in the eighteenth century. It will be no surprise to you that Shakespeare commands the lion’s share of the editorial attention, but some non-Shakespearean are collected and the canon begins to take shape. Printed theatrical adaptations continue to be popular, and editions are often illustrated with images of actors, particularly in Bell’s series.

Resources for finding 18thC books

ECCO: Eighteenth-Century Collections Online

The English Short Title Catalogue continues to be useful.

Internet Shakespeare Editions. Facsimile Viewer Browse-by-Book view.

Scholarly bibliographies — e.g., Murphy

Resources for finding 19thC books

GoogleBooks (yes, really)

British Library Catalogue (because the BL is a deposit library)


Scholarly bibliographies

Early Non-Shakespearean Collections


Advertisement: “The Beginning of next Month will by Publish’d, in Ten neat Pocket Volumes, A Select Collection of Fifty Old Plays.” London, 1744.

1744. Dodsley, Robert, ed. A Select Collection of Old Plays. 12 vols. London: Robert Dodsley, 1744.

1750. Chetwood, W. R., ed. A Select Collection of Old Plays. Dublin, 1750. British Library copy available at ECCO.

1780. Reed, Isaac, ed. A Select Collection of Old Plays. 2nd ed. 12 vols. London: Robert Dodsley, 1780. British Library copy available at ECCO.

1776-81. Bell’s British Theatre. Multi-volume sets. London, 1776-81. See Hathi Trust Catalogue Record for a later edition.

1825-27. Collier, Jeremy Payne, ed. A Select Collection of Old Plays. 3rd ed. 12 vols. London: Septimus Prowet, 1825-27.

1874-76. Hazlitt, W. Carew. A Select Collection of Old Plays: Originally Published by Robert Dodsley in the year 1744. 4th ed. 15 vols. London: Reeves and Turner, 1874-76. UVic Library PR1263 D7. Currently checked out to me. Also available at GoogleBooks.

Further Reading

Candido, Joseph. “Prefatory Matter(s) in the Shakespeare Editions of Nicholas Rowe and Alexander Pope.” Studies in Philology 97.2 (2000): 210-28.


Gollapudi, Aparna. “Selling Celebrity: Actors’ Portraits in Bell’s Shakespeare and Bell’s British Theatre.” Eighteenth-Century Life 36.1 (2012): 54-81.

Lopez, Jeremy. Constructing the Canon of Early Modern Drama. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2014.

Murphy, Andrew. Shakespeare in Print: A History and Chronology of Shakespeare Publishing. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2003. E-resource.


Solomon, Harry M. The Rise of Robert Dodsley: Creating the New Age of Print. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1996.