Category: Decorative Art & Handicrafts, Literature
Introduction by Anne Posega With these words Hanmer voiced England's growing national pride in Shakespeare, a pride materially represented by the numerous editions which were produced in the 18th century. Different editors argued for their textual emendations in prefaces, footnotes, and advertisements, and the debate fueled layer after layer of criticism and responses. In a similar way, the illustrations in these editions were themselves transforming, starting with the first illustrated edition in 1709. Edited by Nicolas Rowe and printed for Jacob Tonson, The Works of Mr. William Shakespear, in Six Volumes was the first edition to be "Adorn'd with cuts". The illustrations in this edition were generally theatrical in nature, with many looking like illustrations of a production.
In recent years, scholars in many disciplines have recognized that the literally thousands of engravings, wood blocks, and etchings in emblem books constitute an unparalleled source not only for the study of daily life of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries but also for extraordinary insights into what the intellectuals of the times viewed as a necessary adjunct to heraldry, social life, politics, philosophy, and moral behavior. The English emblem books scanned for this project are cultural artifacts frequently used in the analysis of reading practices, printing history, Elizabethan popular culture, the use of allegory, and the relationship of word to image.