London: Bickers and Son, 1880.
Hardcover. This creative imagining of the girlhoods of fifteen Shakespearean heroines is the work of Mary Cowden Clarke (1809–1898), author of The Complete Concordance to Shakespeare and Shakespeare Proverbs, among others, and friend to Charles Dickens, Leigh Hunt, and Charles and Mary Lamb. In setting the stage for these young heroines of William Shakespeare's, Mary Cowden Clarke set out "to imagine the possible circumstances and influences of scene, event, and associate, surrounding the infant life of his heroines, which might have conduced to originate and foster those germs of character recognised in their maturity as by him developed; to conjecture what might have been the first imperfect dawnings of that which he has shown us in the meridian blaze of perfection." In this way, Shakespeare's works are both honored and subverted, as Cowden Clarke's tales cast his female characters as heroes in their own right and in their own spotlight. This 1880 edition finds the fifteen Shakespearean heroines' girlhood stories condensed by her sister Sabilla Novello into one handsome and gilt-adorned volume, illustrated in nine plates in permanent photography (a contact-exposed copy of an engraving) from pictures by T. F. Dicksee and W. S. Herrick, along with decorative headpieces and initials at each chapter's beginning. Our heroines include: Portia, the Heiress of Belmont; The Thane's Daughter; Helena, the Physician's Orphan; Desdemona, the Magnifico's Child; Meg and Alice, the Merry Maids of Windsor; Isabella, the Votaress; Katharina and Bianca, the Shrew and the Demure; Ophelia, the Rose of Elsinore; Rosalind and Celia, the Friends; Juliet, the White Dove of Verona; Beatrice and Hero, the Cousins; Olivia, the Lady of Illyria; Hermione, the Russian Princess; Viola, the Twin; and Imogen, the Peerless.
8 5/8" X 5 5/8". vi, [iv], 456pp, plus 15pp ads. Royal blue cloth over bevelled boards, elaborately stamped in gilt and black, with a girl offering a flower to a playmate to upper board and cameo of a young lady to spine, with full decorative borders and stylized lettering. Moderate wear to binding, with scattered rubbing to upper board, bumping to split corners, some sunning to spine, and small tears to head of spine. All edges gilt. Ex libris Ethel Clara Peake, with her bookplate to front pastedown and gift inscription from her cousin dated 1883 to front free endpaper. Inner hinges appear to have been reinforced with professional binder's glue, and spine visible at pages 192, 193. Binding remains sound. Pages are clean and unmarked. Illustrated in nine plates in permanent photography from pictures by T. F. Dicksee and W. S. Herrick. Good +. Item #6182