19th Century editions of Hamlet

Hamlet:  1803-1815. The French Napoleonic Wars.

The Variorum Shakespeare edition of Hamlet by Furness. 1877, pictured below.

spine variorum furnass1803  Isaac Reed.  First Variorum.  Twenty-one volumes. A first work of textual criticism, the text collates all textual versions and offers extensive notes on variance, emendations, allusions to classical mythology, prior editorial decisions, and textual and literary criticism relevant to the text.  The Variorum was a publishing practice in Holland, and the variorum edition continued to gain popularity in England and Germany as well as Holland.   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shakespeare%27s_editors .  See article on JSTOR by Wilson (1987) ABOUT THE 1785 Isaac Reed Variorum. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40371843?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

  1. Thomas and Harriet Bowdler. The Family Shakspeare was published, in four duodecimo volumes, containing 24 of the plays.”In 1818 the second edition was published.   Each play is preceded by an introduction where Bowdler summarizes and justifies his changes to the text. According to his nephew’s Memoir, the first edition was prepared by Bowdler’s sister, Harriet, but both were published under Thomas Bowdler’s name, probably because a woman could not then publicly admit that she understood Shakespeare’s racy passages.”[12] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Bowdler
  2. Isaac Reed. The Second Variorum edition. https://shine.unibas.ch/translators.htm
  3. Michele Leoni. Translated into Italian.  The tragedies (in verse); Alessandro Verri, Hamlet and Othello. https://shine.unibas.ch/translators.htm
  4. Peter FoersomShakespeares Tragiske Vaerker.  Completed by Peter Wulff and Edvard Lembcke circa 1861-1873. Shakespeareoversætteren[redigér | redigér wikikode] WHAT COULD BE MORE INTERESTING TO RESEARCH?  Finally, the Danish people get a chance to find out what happened to their lost Prince Hamlet!  I included this because I am tending toward a dissertation on the topic of the politics of translation in text and performance.  And Forersom’s work was banned in Denmark for reasons that concern war and politics, so I am wondering how the Danes felt about having their names plastered all over the most famous tragedy in the Western World, next to Romeo and Juliet, Homer’s account of The Trojan War in The Iliad and Odyssey, and perhaps Goethe’s Faust.

So here is a bit of text I snatched with the translator application on Microsoft: ”Next he studied acting, therefore, older and more recent poetry. In 1803 he submitted a translation of Julius Caesar to Theater Executive Board, however, did not dare play the tragedy because of its revolutionary spirit. Foersom continued his translations of Shakespeare’s plays, with the help of Adam Oehlenschläger released the first volume in 1807. ”

In 1811 he published the second volume. Then a third, fourth, and fifth volume completed by P.E. Wulff was published in 1818 after Foersoms death. ”We must bear in mind that in these years there was resentment against England because of the wars, in 1801 and 1807, so it was a difficult game to get translations published. The effort gave Peter Foersom a name in literature and brought him his most significant scene task, the title role in Hamlet, which finally in 1813, was built (staged?)as the first play by Shakespeare in Denmark. Both Oehlenschläger and Knud Lyne Rahbek was enthusiastic and praised both ….” https://da.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Foersom (C.J.H.M edited with Microsoft translator March 2016)

  1. Georg Scheutz.  Translated into Swedish. Kopmannen i Venedig; Olof Biurback. https://shine.unibas.ch/translators.htm
  2. 1821James Boswell. The Third Variorum, 21 volumes.  Relied heavily on work of Malone. 21 volumes.   The first true variorum edition and scholarly collation of all previous prefaces and emendations after Isaac Reed.  A full description is provided of “The ‘Boswell’s Malone’ Edition, first thus. With an engraved frontispiece portrait in Volume I and a 50-page introduction.  (See amore at: (London: F.C. and J. Rivington; et al.)     http://www.buddenbrooks.com/pages/books/23568/william-shakespeare/poems-and-plays-of-william-shakespeare-in-sixteen-volumes-collated-verbatim-with-the-most
  3. F.P.G. Guizot.  Translated into French. Oevres complètes de Shakespeare, nouvelle èdition, précédéée d’une notice biographique et littéraire, 13 vol. Pari .
  4. Samuel Weller Singer.  English edition.
  5. Michal Bosy.  Translated into Slovak. 1810-1830.
  6. Oiveira Silva. Translated into Portuguese for performance in Brazil by Joao Caetano.
  7. Heinrich Döring.  Translated into German.  Shakespeare’s sammtliche Werk.
  8. Philip Kaufmann:  Translated into German.  Dramatische Werk. Ubersetzt.  Ber
1837.  Queen Victoria succeeds her uncle, Willliam IV, to the throne.  The Victorian era lasts until approximately 1901 when Queen Victoria dies. (This Christmas Stocking portrays the English tradition of singing Christmas carols in victorian dress. The Ghost story A Christmas Carol by the famous Victorian writer, ChArles Dickens surely took a cue from shakespeare’s hamlet.

1838-43.   Charles Knight.  The Standard Edition of the Pictorial ShakespeareEdited by Charles Knight.  7 volumes (London:  Charles Knight and Company 1838-43, revised print in 1846). “Knight, Hudson and Singer produced several editions of the plays in the middle of the century, wrote biographical material on Shakespeare and contributed to the controversies about the establishment of the text, authorship, and the proper role of an editor. For some of this material, see our Shakespeariana page elsewhere on our site.” http://users.ipfw.edu/stapletm/NVSJC/4eds.html .

  1. Benjamin Laroche. Oeuvres complètes. (intr. Alexandre Dumas.)

1842-44.   John Payne Collier.  Works.  8 Volumes. In 1840, he founded the Shakespeare Society and by 1841 Collier’s reputation as a Shakespeare scholar had risen to such heights that he was solicited to edit a new edition of the works of Shakespeare which was published, in eight volumes, between 1841-1843.  His emendations were later deemed forgeries. http://www.lib.udel.edu/ud/spec/exhibits/forgery/collier.htm

1847. G.C. Verplanck.   The Illustrated Shakespeare. Edited by G.C. Verplanck. The Illustrated Shakespeare. Harper and Brothers. New York. Verplanck, G.C. ed., “Tragedies.” Shakespeare’s Plays with his Life: Illustrated with many hundred wood-cuts. Vol. 3. New York: Harper & Bros., 1847.

Shakespeare.  Three Volumes.

  1. W.G. Clark and W.A. Wright. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Arranged in their chronological order.   9 volumes. Published by James Pott and Co.   

1857-1866. Richard Grant White.  The Complete Works of William Shakespeare with historical and analytical prefaces, comments, critical and explanatory notes, glosseries, a life of Shakespeare and a history of the early English drama (New York, University Society, 1901).” http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/books

  1. William Sydney Walker.  A Critical Examination of the Text of Shakespeare, 3 vols.  Another Dane interprets Hamlet, Prince of Denmark!

1863-1866.  William George Clark and John Glover. The Cambridge Shakespeare.  A collation of early editions with emendations and assistance from John Glover and William Aldis Wright. William Aldis Wrighthttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shakespeare%27s_editon

  1. Thomas Kneightley.  The Plays of William Shakespeare. Edited by Thomas Knightley.  6 Volumes. London:  Bell and Daldy. 1864, reprinted in 1867 and many subsequent editions. Not a traditional editor.  He was known for his inventive editorial style. http://users.ipfw.edu/stapletm/NVSJC/4eds.html

1864-66  William George Clark and Aldis Wright.  The Cambridge Shakespeare.  Eight volumes.   MacMillan. Also credited with having produced the first single volume Globe Shakespeare. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shakespeare%27s_editors

  1. Arrigo Boito. Translated into Italian OperaAmleto (libretto)

1850-1870. The American Civil War and Reconstruction Era

In 1866-77.  Horace Howard Furness.   A new American Variorum edition of Shakespeare which he designed to be a comprehensive scholarly edition.  Copyright is held in 1877 by J.B. Lippincott Company.  The Dedication in a 1905 edition reads, “To the German Shakespeare Society of Weimar, representative of a people whose recent history has proved once for all that ‘Germany is not Hamlet.’  A collation of the texts of the Quartos and Folios, and of some thirty modern editions, together with notes and comments from te editors whose texts are collated.

The editor makes three rules regarding inclusion of scholarship to the text:  1) no criticism that attacks fellow critics’ work 2) the comments should pertain to the character of Hamlet.  3)  Original ideas even if not valid will be included (x).  The text resembles a Bible concordance, it is so thick and rich with explication of allusions that go well beyond relevancy to the character of Hamlet, so one rule is happily broken by the editor himself.  See, for example, the lengthy explanation of Aeneas’ tale of Dido alluded to in Act II, sc. i.  This commentary dominates pages 180-185 of the Hamlet Varorium.   More about this edition can be found at http://muse.jhu.edu/login?auth=0&type=summary&url=/journals/shakespeare_bulletin/v033/33.2.cross.html

  1. Benno Tschischwitz.  Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.   (Halle)
  2. W.G Clark and W.A. Wright.  Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark.  The Clarendon Press Shakespeare.   Oxford. (Hibbard 133)
  3. Edwin Booth.  Hamlet, as Presented by Edwin Booth.  The prompt book edited by W. Winter.  136 pages. New York
  4. Karl Elze and Max Niemeyer. Shakespeare’s Tragedy of Hamlet.
  5. George MacDonald.  The Tragedy of Hamlet. See Ann Thompson’s review of “George MacDonald’s 1885 Folio-based edition of Hamlet” in the Academic Room for more information.  http://www.academicroom.com/article/george-macdonalds-1885-folio-based-edition-hamlet
  6. Wilson Barrett.  Shakespeare’s Tragedy of Hamlet as Arranged for the StageWith notes and Introduction by C.J. Ribton-Trner.  London, 1886.
  7. Wilhelm Vietor.  Shakespeare Reprints.  II.  Hamlet, Prallel Texts of the First and Second Quartos and the First Folio. Marburg, 1891.  319 pages.  It appears that the Kliman and Betram edition could have referenced or reprinted this earlier edition.

1893-95. Aldis Wright’s Cambridge Shakespeare.  The Complete Works.  40 volumes? http://www.worldcat.org/title/works-of-william-shakespeare-edited-by-w-aldis-wright-the-cambridge-shakespeare-fp/oclc/503853502 This editon is noted in Howard-Hill bibliography (93) as cited in Alexander Dyce’s article “The editors of Shakespeare” appearing in Shakespeariana  8 no.3.  1891.

1895-99. Edward Dowden.  The Arden Shakespeare.  Wrote an article titled, “Shakespeare as a Man of Science” in the National Review of 1902.  Includes footnotes for variants and emendations from Q2 and Folio editions reviewed in a number of journals including the educational Review and Journal of Education at the turn of the century.  (See Anton Adolph Raven’s invaluable bibliography titled, A Hamlet Bibliography and Reference.


1790.  Edmond Malone, editor.  Credited with being helped by Steevens to create the finest first scholarly edition and for arranging the plays in accurate chronological order to represent their order as Shakespeare wrote them.  Malone was an Irish Shakespearean scholar and editor of the works of William Shakespeare.   Malone traveled to London to write about another Irish Playwright Oliver Goldsmith, and met George Steevens who was working on Jacob Tonson’s edition of Shakespeare’s works.  Steevens gave Malone papers of notes from Steevens reading of Gerard Langbaine’s An Account of the English Dramatic Poets (1691) that he had transcribed by Steevens from another scholar named William Oldys.   So, off went Malone with his stack of scribble to interpret and transcribe.   This information has been paraphrased and properly poached from Wikipedia.[20]  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmond_Malone

The following excerpt from The Cambridge History of English and American Literature (1907-21) on Malone is featured in Bartleby’s online source referencing the editorial transmission history and Malone’s contribution:  “A second edition of Johnson and Steevens’s text appeared in 1778, Edmond Malone contributing an “Essay on the Chronology of Shakespeare’s Plays.” In 1780, he published a supplement to this edition, containing the Poems and an intimation of his intention to bring out a new edition of the whole of the poet’s works… Malone’s edition appeared in 1790. There can be no doubt that he went back to the old copies for his text, which shows a scrupulous fidelity to the quartos and folios, and a preference for the first folio in the case of the variant quarto plays.”   http://www.bartleby.com/215/1118.html