London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme, 1808. Item #02654
A Handsome Root & Son Binding
Celebrating the Beauty of Elizabethan Poetry
[ROOT & SON, binders]. LAMB, Charles. Specimens of English Dramatic Poets Who Lived About the Time of Shakespeare. With Notes. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme, 1808.
First edition. Octavo (7 1/8 x 4 1/4 in; 181 x 108 mm). xii, 484 pp.
Designed and bound c. 1920 by Root & Son (stamp-signed) in full brown crushed morocco with double fillet and a secondary gilt-rolled frame with gilt corner-pieces and inlaid dots in green. Gilt decorated compartments. Top edge gilt. A fine copy
Elizabethan poets whose work is represented here include Thomas Sackville; Thomas Kyd; Christopher Marlowe; Thomas Decker; Ben Jonson; William Rowley; John Fletcher; Francis Beaumont; etc.
Charles Lamb was born in London in 1775. He studied at Christ's Hospital where he formed a lifelong friendship with Samuel Taylor Coleridge. When Lamb was twenty years old he suffered a period of insanity and was confined to a psychiatric hospital. His sister, Mary Ann Lamb, had similar issues and in 1796 murdered her mother in a fit of madness. Mary was confined to an asylum but was eventually released into the care of her brother. Lamb became friends in London with a group of young writers who favored political reform including Percy Bysshe Shelley, William Hazlitt, Henry Brougham, Lord Byron, Thomas Barnes and Leigh Hunt. In 1796 Lamb contributed four sonnets to Coleridge's Poems on Various Subjects (1796). This was followed by Blank Verse (1798) and Pride's Cure (1802). Lamb worked for the East India Company in London but managed to contribute articles to several journals and newspapers including London Magazine, The Morning Chronicle, Morning Post and the The Quarterly Review. He is best known for his pseudonymous essays for London Magazine, collected and published as Essays of Elia (1823), and for the popular evergreen Tales From Shakespeare (1807), his collaboration with his sister. The volume under notice went a long way to popularizing Shakespeare's contemporaries. He died in 1834.
The London bindery of W. Root & Son consistently turned-out excellent work, both on fine bindings as here, and on trade bindings and sets. Packer lists the firm in business in Red Lion Square in 1899-1901, and the December 1942 issue of The Rotarian notes with regret that W. Root had been bombed out (uprooted?) of their premises on Paternaster Row during the 1941 Blitz.