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v, [2], 8-130 p., [1] leaf of plates : ill. ; 15 cm. (12mo)

Some of the pages in this document were selected as part of a class project for Professor Garth Bond’s History of the Book seminar, Fall 2014. The abstract was prepared by Alexandra Koszewski.

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Printed for, and under the direction of, John Bell...




The 1785 copy of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare has three distinct sections: the illustrations, the text, and the annotations. The two engraved illustrations depict the deaths of both Romeo and Juliet and are unique solely to the Bell edition (after John Bell, an English publisher who ran a circulating library). The first print is titled “Mrs. Kemble in the character of Juliet” and not only gives insight to the skill of the artist (Ramberg) and printer (Sherwin), but also gives attention to the primary actors- specifically Elizabeth Kemble- at this particular time in London. The text itself is a copy of the most recent version of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet which was the Fifth Quarto, published in 1637, printed by R. Young. The annotations by George Steevens and Samuel Johnson reference the other Folio and Quarto versions and the discrepancies between them as well as what they believed to be Shakespeare’s intention. This version of the Shakespearean text and the annotations give new insight to what and how Shakespeare was viewed at the end of the 18th century. The specificity of the illustrations and annotations of the text as well as the fact that this version is a Bell edition truly makes this a book of its time.


This work is in the public domain under United States Copyright Law. If you use any part of this work please include Lawrence University Special Collections in your citation.

Romeo and Juliet / by Will. Shakspere ; printed complete from the text of Sam. Johnson and Geo. Steevens ; and revised from the last editions.