Romeo and Juliet

Among the Club’s dozens of early Shakespeare quartos, EC 191, The most excellent and lamentable tragedie, of Romeo and Iuliet, stands out. A second printing from 1599 (first, 1597) and therefore exceptionally rare to begin with, this copy is notable for both interesting early marginalia and a most distinguished provenance. It contains annotations for performance throughout in a seventeenth-century hand, with passages struck out, speakers’ names adjusted, and moments designated for music. It also bears a seventeenth-century woman’s anagram on leaf H3v: “Anagr. Elisabeth Rotton Her Lot is to b neat.” Identified as a significant piece of Shakespeareana from an early date, this copy had a string of notable owners before comprising part of Alexander Smith Cochran’s founding gift in 1911, among them George Steevens (sold by auction in 1800), the Duke of Roxburghe (sold by auction in 1812), the Marquis of Blandford (sold by auction in 1819), George Daniel (whose monogram is stamped on the cover—sold by auction in 1864), and Henry Huth, from whose library it was acquired by Cochran in 1911 prior to public sale. EC 191 exemplifies what gets a scholarly bibliophile’s heart racing, from literary and bibliographical importance of the first order to meaningful and interesting annotations and a rich history of ownership.

Romeo and Juliet 1