With Letters from a Notorious Shakespeare Forger

    [J. Payne Collier, editor]. The Plays and Poems of William Shakespeare, with the Purest Text, and the Briefest Notes. London: Privately Printed for Subscribers, 1878. First, thus. Limited to only fifty-eight sets. Eight small quarto volumes. Bound by Rivière in full scarlet morocco. Gilt fillets and corner designs to boards. Raised bands. Elaborate gilt work to compartments, gilt lettering to spines. All edges gilt. Hinges cracked on two volumes. Headband of one volume loose but still attached. Extremities rubbed. Very good. [together with:] Three Autograph Letters Signed by J. Payne Collier. All on laid stationary paper. In the first, dated Jan. 10, 1875, Collier thanks the recipient for becoming a subscriber of his "projected Shakespeare." (The call for subscribers appeared the previous day in The Athenæum). The second two letters (June 25 and 28 of 1881) concern Collier resolving a shipping issue. (The work was issued in forty-three parts.) Collier also recommends a binder, Rivière; advice which the subscriber seems to have followed.

    John Payne Collier's Shakespeare was a new edition based on a copy of the Second Folio (the "Perkins Folio") he acquired which had corrections purported to be added by hand in the middle of the seventeenth century. Collier's reasoning was that such early emendations must point the way towards a more pure form of the texts as intended by Shakespeare. The authenticity of the Perkins Folio was quickly called into question by contemporary scholars, and, subsequently the corrections were proved to have been added in the nineteenth century. There continues to be some speculation as to how great a role (if any) Collier had in the creation of this famous literary forgery; however, his association with the disputed material called into question his entire life's work. "Collier did Shakespeare scholarship an incalculable injury, because unfortunately he was a scholar himself. He died so utterly unnoticed that his funeral was noticed in the newspapers as 'Funeral of John Payne--a Collier.'" (New Shakespeareana, Vol. IX, No. 1).

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