King's College London
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'The very age and body of the time': Shakespeare's world

Gollancz's edition of the Sonnets

Opening from Shakespeare’s sonnets, with initial rubrics and ornaments at foot of pages in redOpening from Shakespeare’s sonnets, with initial rubrics and ornaments at foot of pages in redAnother example of Gollancz’s Shakespearean scholarship was his editorship of the Temple Shakespeare.

This was an attempt to popularise the reading of Shakespeare’s works, consisting of an inexpensive pocket-sized uniform series of the complete works.

The first volumes were published by JM Dent in 1894 at one shilling each, and the edition went on to become the most popular of the day, selling more than five million copies over the following 40 years.

The image shown here is from the Temple Shakespeare volume of sonnets. Gollancz provided a preface and an ‘analytic table’ of the sonnets; there is also a glossary for the general reader, and fewer textual notes than in a scholarly edition. The text is clear and easily legible, with one sonnet per page and an absence of footnotes. The initial rubric and ornaments at the foot of each sonnet add a pleasing splash of colour.

In this exhibition


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