Tales from Shakespeare
Alexander Gardner, Paisley; nd.
Hardback; 150 x 210 mm; dark red boards with titles in gold on spine (worn) and front cover with pictorials in gold on spine and front cover; vi & 296 pages. Top edge gilt. No dust jacket.
Illustrated by W H Robinson. Sixteen illustrations, frontispiece in colour, remainder in monochrome. Complete.
The book is in fair condition as it is possible some pages are missing early in the book. After page vi, the text immediately begins on page 9. However the text of the Tales is complete.
The binding is generally sound although the illustration facing page 188 is slightly loose. The spine of the book is faded, extending onto the back cover, and worn, and there is bumping to the edges of the covers. There is minor foxing and tanning. Contents (page v) has pencil ticks. There is the odd smudge here and there, and page 296 has “83” in pencil.
Tales from Shakespeare is well-known and is an English children's book written by Charles Lamb and his sister Mary Lamb in 1807. The book is designed to make the stories of Shakespeare's plays familiar to the young. However, as noted in the authors' Preface, "[Shakespeare's] words are used whenever it seemed possible to bring them in; and in whatever has been added to give them the regular form of a connected story, diligent care has been taken to select such words as might least interrupt the effect of the beautiful English tongue in which he wrote: therefore, words introduced into our language since his time have been as far as possible avoided." Mary Lamb was responsible for the comedies, while Charles wrote the tragedies; they wrote the preface between them.
The attraction of this particular edition lies in the illustrations by William Heath Robinson (1872 – 1944). He is best known for his cartoons of over-ingenious, ridiculously complicated, or elaborate mechanical contrivances.