BYRON’S FRIEND ADAPTS A PLAY BY JOHN FLETCHER

The Merchant of Bruges; or, Beggar’s Bush. With considerable Alterations and Additions. Now performing, with universal Applause, at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

London: Printed for Whittingham and Arliss ... 1815

8vo., pp. 6, [2], 84. with a four-page publisher’s catalogue at the end; title-page a little dusty, but a very good copy, stitched as issued, untrimmed.

£250

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First edition of the only literary work by the intimate friend and banker of Lord Byron, who dedicated Hebrew Melodies to him in 1815. The play was produced at Drury Lane where both served on the Committee, dedicated to Lady Caroline Lamb’s brother-in-law (who contributed three songs), and has a prologue and epilogue by John Cam Hobhouse.

A comedy by John Fletcher, possibly with the collaboration of Francis Beaumont and Philip Massinger, The Beggar’s Bush was acted at Court in 1622 and first published in the Beaumont and Fletcher folio of 1647. Kinnaird’s revision – with its rich Jacobean fare of mistaken identities, disguise, honour, betrayal, true love, and, in the beggars, knockabout rustic humour – was very popular on the stage and it was its success at Drury Lane that led him to sanction publication.

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