An Essay on the Learning of Shakespeare: addressed to Joseph Craddock, Esq; …

ambridge: Printed by J. Archdeacon, Printer to the University; for W. Thurlbourn & J. Woodyer, in Cambridge; and sold by J. Beecroft … J. Dodsley … and T. Cadell in … London. 1767.

8vo., pp. [6], 50; stab holes at inner margin where originally sewn; nineteenth-century half calf, rebacked and corners renewed. Bookplate of Professor Peter Clemoes of Emmanuel College, Cambridge.


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First edition of an important contribution to eighteenth-century Shakespeare scholarship. Farmer argues forcefully that Shakespeare relied on translations of Greek and Latin authors, not the originals, echoing their phraseology and even their errors. ‘He remembered perhaps enough of his school-boy learning to put the Hig, hag, hog, into the mouth of Sir Hugh Evans; and might pick up in the course of his conversation a familiar word or two of French or Italian: but his Studies were most demonstratively confined to Nature and his own Language’. Farmer’s friend Samuel Johnson was delighted with the Essay, and declared the subject closed.

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