Bell's British Theatre, consisting of the most esteemed English plays. John BELL.
Bell's British Theatre, consisting of the most esteemed English plays.
Bell's British Theatre, consisting of the most esteemed English plays.
Bell's British Theatre, consisting of the most esteemed English plays.
Bell's British Theatre, consisting of the most esteemed English plays.
Bell's British Theatre, consisting of the most esteemed English plays.

Bell's British Theatre, consisting of the most esteemed English plays.

London: George Cawthorn, 1797.

34 volumes, 16mo., engravings; contemporary sprinkled calf, full blue morocco spines richly gilt.

The "most esteemed" English plays

A most handsome set of collected plays by the famous publisher Bell, 'the mischievous spirit, the very Puck of booksellers' (DNB). This fine collection includes many of the most famous plays by authors such as Milton, Goldsmith, Jonson, Congreve, and Mrs. Griffiths. It was originally issued in 1776-77 as a serious attack on the monopoly exerted by a group of London booksellers calling themselves "the trade". Bell was a consummate bookseller, and his small, tasteful volumes were renowned both for ease of reading (his major innovation was the discarding of the long 's') and lavish illustration. Each play was issued with a frontispiece of a famous actor in a rhetorical pose from the play, as well as another of a suitably dramatic scene. This attention to design confirmed and enhanced the popular success of the series.

A most handsome set of collected plays by the famous publisher Bell, 'the mischievous spirit, the very Puck of booksellers' (DNB). This fine collection includes many of the most famous plays by authors such as Milton, Goldsmith, Jonson, Congreve, and Mrs. Griffiths. It was originally issued in 1776-77 as a serious attack on the monopoly exerted by a group of London booksellers calling themselves "the trade". Bell was a consummate bookseller, and his small, tasteful volumes were renowned both for ease of reading (his major innovation was the discarding of the long 's') and lavish illustration. Each play was issued with a frontispiece of a famous actor in a rhetorical pose from the play, as well as another of a suitably dramatic scene. This attention to design confirmed and enhanced the popular success of the series.

The fact that each play is also prefaced by a brief commentary and biography of the author, the latter designed, at least in part, as moral corrective to the reader, hence the DNB entry on Bell: 'pioneer in that kind of publication so much in vogue in later days, by which the multitude is taught to feel an interest in the best literature by means of prints and illustrations executed by good artists.'

Price (AUD): $4,800.00  other currencies     Ref: #3002013

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