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The Tragedie of King Richard the third.
1598
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C.34.k.47, title page

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C.34.k.47, title page
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Institution Rights and Document Citation

 

From the collections of: THE BRITISH LIBRARY

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The British Library has graciously contributed the above images to Shakespeare Documented under a Creative Commons Public Domain Mark.

Copy-specific information
Creator: William Shakespeare
Title: The Tragedie of King Richard the third. Conteining his treacherous Plots against his brother Clarence: the pitiful murther of his innocent Nephewes: his tyrannicall vsurpation: with the whole course of his detested life, and most deserued death. As it hath beene lately Acted by the Right Honourable the Lord Chamberlaine his seruants. By William Shake-speare.
Date: London : Printed by Thomas Creede, for Andrew Wise, 1598.
Repository: The British Library, London, UK
Call number and opening: C.34.k.47, title page
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Item Creator
William Shakespeare
Item Title
The tragedy of King Richard the third. Conteining his treacherous plots against his brother Clarence: the pitiful murther of his innocent nephewes: his tyrannicall vsurpation: with the whole course of the detested life, and most deserued death. As [...]
Item Date
At London: printed by Thomas Creede, for Andrew Wise, dwelling in Paules Church-yard, at the signe of the Angell, 1598.
Repository
The British Library, London, UK
Call Number
C.34.k.47, title page

Institution Rights and Document Citation

 

From the collections of: THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Terms of use
The British Library has graciously contributed the above images to Shakespeare Documented under a Creative Commons Public Domain Mark.

Copy-specific information
Creator: William Shakespeare
Title: The Tragedie of King Richard the third. Conteining his treacherous Plots against his brother Clarence: the pitiful murther of his innocent Nephewes: his tyrannicall vsurpation: with the whole course of his detested life, and most deserued death. As it hath beene lately Acted by the Right Honourable the Lord Chamberlaine his seruants. By William Shake-speare.
Date: London : Printed by Thomas Creede, for Andrew Wise, 1598.
Repository: The British Library, London, UK
Call number and opening: C.34.k.47, title page
View online bibliographic record

Richard III was an immediate success in the bookshops of London. Andrew Wise published the first edition in 1597, and copies seem to have sold out very quickly, since he published the play again the next year, in 1598, as shown here.

The second edition was printed by Thomas Creede. Wise seems to have taken an interest in the text of the play, since there are a few corrections, including the addition of two lines missing from the first scene of the play in the previous edition. The most significant change, however, occurs on the title page, where the phrase “By William Shake-speare” was inserted. The addition of Shakespeare’s name to a reprint of a play was rare, and it demonstrates that both Wise and his customers considered Shakespeare’s name to be a desirable—and, more importantly, a profitable commodity. On the stage the play belonged to the actor Richard Burbage, who played the central role, but in print it was now branded as Shakespeare’s.

The copy shown here was once owned by the Shakespearean actor David Garrick, who bequeathed it to the British Museum upon his death in 1779. This copy became part of the British Library's collections under the 1972 British Library Act, and is one of seven known to exist listed in the English Short Title Catalogue. Garrick’s gilded coat of arms is tooled into the front and back cover of the binding.

Written by Adam G. Hooks

Sources
Adam G. Hooks, Selling Shakespeare: Biography, Bibliography, and the Book Trade (Cambridge University Press, 2016).

Sonia Massai, Shakespeare and the Rise of the Editor (Cambridge University Press, 2012).

Last updated July 20, 2017