First Collected Edition of Beaumont and Fletcher’s "Comedies and Tragedies"
BEAUMONT, Francis. Comedies and Tragedies. London: For Humphrey Robinson , 1647.
First collected edition. The third great folio collection of Elizabethan drama after Jonson’s (1616) and Shakespeare’s (1623). Folio (12 1/8 x 8 1/4 inches; 310 x 209 mm.). [52], 75, [1, blank], 143, [1, blank], 165, [2], [1, blank], 71, [1, blank], 172, 92, 50 [i.e. 52], 28, 25-48 pp. Engraved frontispiece portrait of Fletcher by William Marshall in the second state, as usual. Decorative woodcut head-pieces and initials. Text in double columns.

Contemporary full dark brown paneled calf, rebacked to style. Boards a bit rubbed. Frontispiece mounted, with two-inch tear to upper corner supplied in facsimile. leaf Eeeee3 as well as last six leaves repaired along outer margin, with just a few words and some parts of border supplied in neat facsimile. Repaired closed tear to title page. Leaf Qqq with some marginal tears, barely affecting text. Minor spotting and tanning to text, expected light wear to extremities of binding. Bookplates. Early owner signature on title page, with inscription on verso. A very good copy, attractive in contemporary calf. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box.

“Almost equal in importance in English literature to the First Folio of Shakespeare” (Rosenbach 25: 7). The playwrights Beaumont and Fletcher were regarded in their time as two men so closely in harmony as to constitute one mind: “Beaumont bringing the ballast of judgement, Fletcher the sail of phantasy... He who has not perused Beaumont and Fletcher can have no complete idea of the riches of English poetry” (Allibone I, 150-151). No collected edition of Beaumont and Fletcher’s plays appeared before this posthumous one, which is dedicated by ten actors to Philip, Earl of Pembroke, and is introduced to the reader by the dramatist James Shirley. “This edition, which is said to have been edited by Shirley though the amount of revision he did is not known, contains all of the hitherto unpublished plays by Beaumont and Fletcher [emphasis ours] except the Wild-Goose Chase, the manuscript of this last having been lost” (Pforzheimer 53).

"Nothing which throws light upon the history of printing at this time is more interesting than the Postscript added at the end of the commendatory verses by Waller, Lovelace, Herrick, Ben Johnson and others" (Grolier English).

Greg III p.1013. Grolier, 100 English, 28. Pforzheimer 53. Wing B-1581.

HBS # 65825 $7,000