MALONE (EDMOND) Autograph letter signed ("Edmond Malone"), to the book collector Isaac Reed, Queen Anne Street East, 15 May 1789
Lot 141
MALONE (EDMOND)
Autograph letter signed ("Edmond Malone"), to the book collector Isaac Reed, Queen Anne Street East, 15 May 1789
Sold for £1,125 (US$ 1,747) inc. premium

Lot Details
MALONE (EDMOND)
Autograph letter signed ("Edmond Malone"), to the book collector Isaac Reed, asking if he happens to have an edition of Flecknoe's Characters printed in 1658 or any earlier ("...If you have, I shall be much obliged to you for it, for a few minutes..."), and enquiring after the whereabouts of Mr Neve who "Was so obliging as to send me an elegant little volume of Criticism some time ago, which, I believe, has not been published; but not knowing where he lives, I know not how to thank him. Is it in Gray's Inn?..."); autograph address leaf, postmarked, 1 page, wafer-seal and small associated tear where opened, very light dust-staining but in fine fresh and attractive condition, 4to, Queen Anne Street East, 15 May 1789

Footnotes

  • MALONE TO HIS FELLOW SHAKESPEARIAN SCHOLAR ISAAC REED. During the course of 1789, the year our letter was written, Malone made two of his most extraordinary discoveries, that of the office-book of Sir Henry Herbert, master of the Revels, and of Philip Henslowe's theatre diary and account book at Dulwich. The year before had seen publication of his magnum opus, the ten-volume Plays and Poems of William Shakespeare, including his original and expansive 'Account of the English stage'. He was also at this time helping Boswell with his Life of Johnson published in 1791, for which he served 'as midwife to the biography, correcting the manuscript as Boswell wrote it, encouraging him against depression with endless advice, and generally keeping him to the task. It is not improbable that without Malone Boswell would never have written the Life' (Peter Martin, ODNB).

    Isaac Reed, his correspondent, was prominent among those who helped Malone with his work on Shakespeare and the English stage, and was himself responsible for editing the 1785 Johnson and Steevens variorum edition of Shakespeare. After his death, Malone wrote: 'I have been almost daily at a book auction, the library of Mr Reed, the last Shakspearian except myself, where my purse has been drained as usual. But what I have purchased are chiefly books of my own trade. There is hardly a library of this kind now left, except my own and Mr. Bindley's, neither of us having the least desire to succeed the other in this peculiar species of literary wealth' (James Prior, Life of Edmond Malone, 1860, p. 293).

    It seems that Reed provided answers to both of Malone's questions. Malone's 'Historical Account of the English Stage' draws extensively on the works of Flecknoe – best known as the target of Dryden's satire – specifically on his Characters for a note on Joseph Taylor (the actor who took over from Burbage as leading player of the King's Men): 'I find from Fleckno's Characters that Taylor died either in the year 1653 or in the following year', his note citing the edition of 1665 ('Historical Account of the Rise and Progress of the English Stage', in Plays of William Shakespeare, iii, 1799, p. 277). Coincidentally, in an article printed as this catalogue goes to press, Katherine Duncan-Jones puts forward the suggestion that this same Joseph Taylor could be the 'Jo: Taylor' identified by George Vertue as painter of the Chandos Portrait of Shakespeare, rather than the painter-stainer John Taylor, as hitherto thought; the same article describes Malone as being 'the founding father of rigorous Shakespeare scholarship' ('A Precious Memento', Times Literary Supplement, 25 April 2014, pp. 13-15).

    Reed clearly also put Malone in contact with the obliging Mr Neve, whom he was to visit the following month: 'Yesterday (June 19) I passed an hour very agreeably in Furnival's Inn with Mr. P. H. Neve, a young gentleman who has lately printed some miscellaneous observations on the English poets, and is much devoted to literary pursuits... He showed me many rare autographs, and a curious memorandum which he found lately in Milton's book in defence of the people of England' ('Maloniana' in Prior's, Malone, pp. 395-96).
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