The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

As it is now Acted at his Highness the Duke of York's Theatre

SHAKESPEARE, William

SHAKESPEARE QUARTO

SHAKESPEARE, William The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark As it is now Acted at his Highness the Duke of York's Theatre

Printed by Andr. Clark, for J.Martyn, and H.Herringman, 1676.

Quarto (201 x 145mm). The sixth quarto edition and first "Davenant" edition. Recently bound in period style roan, with decorative panels to the covers and morocco title label to the spine. A short, repaired, closed tear to the title page and occasional minor marginal repairs. Marginal annotation to M3, otherwise aside from the odd light mark, clean and very well preserved.

A rare seventeenth century quarto of one of Shakespeare's most profound and popular works, based on Sir William Davenant's famous revival.
Hamlet was first published in 1603 with a further three quartos prior to the publication of the first folio in 1623, shortly after Shakespeare's death in 1616. Thereafter there was only one further printing (1637) as the fashion for classical drama saw Shakespeare's plays fall out of favour, before this one.
Sir William Davenant (1606-1668), manager of the Duke of York's theatre, was well placed to implement a revival in Shakespeare's fortunes.
"Sir William's father, the devotee of Shakespeare, had probably left London just before the first performance of Hamlet at the Globe on Bankside; he would certainly have seen it at Oxford by 1603 (title-page, first quarto). Later on he no doubt told his young son about the production: thus William Davenant, the man mainly responsible for the return of Shakespeare's plays to the London stage at the Restoration, would have had the unique advantage of hearing a firsthand account of how Richard Burbage played the prince. By 1661 Shakespeare had been dead for nearly half a century; his language would have seemed old-fashioned, his plots were unfamiliar, and tastes had changed. Davenant's version of Hamlet (printed 1676) was severely cut - largely of course because of its length - and some of its diction altered in the supposed interest of clarity and intelligibility. However, the power of the play prevailed. Pepys, who was at the first performance, wrote that it was 'done with Scenes very well. But above all, Batterton [sic] did the Prince's part beyond imagination'. Mary Saunderson [later Mrs Betterton], then aged about twenty-five, played Ophelia, her first Shakespearian role in a career which, to quote Colley Cibber, 'was to the last, the Admiration of all true Judges of Nature and Lovers of Shakespeare'. John Downes [prompter for the Duke of York's company] reports in his Roscius Anglicanus that 'No succeeding Tragedy for several Yeares got more Reputation, or Money to the Company'". (ODNB).
The lines Davenant cut in his performance are still present in the 1676 quarto, but placed in quotes, "so that we may no way wrong the incomparable author" (from Davenant's "To the Reader").

Stock ID: 36279

£52,500.00

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