Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

The Progress of Johnson’s Shakespeare: Subscription, Text, and Printing

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Joseph HoneORCiD



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by University of Chicago Press, 2019.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


Bibliographers have long puzzled over Samuel Johnson’s edition of The Plays of William Shakespeare, started in 1756 but repeatedly delayed until its eventual publication in 1765. Back in 1979 Brian Vickers wrote that, although “we do not yet have a full bibliographical study,” it was nonetheless “evident that Johnson’s Shakespeare had an erratic career in the printing-house.” More than twenty years earlier Arthur Sherbo had assembled a chronology of most of the known facts about the publication of the edition, though confessed there were “all too few references to particular volumes and plays” in his list and that evidence concerning the printing of the edition was scarce at best. The publication of David Fleeman’s seminal A Bibliography of the Works of Samuel Johnson in 2000 has since shed considerable light on some specific bibliographical problems. And yet, despite Fleeman’s advances, much still remains unknown about the printing and publication of this important literary edition. How was Johnson’s subscription planned? How successful was it? How much money did Johnson and his publishers make? What copy did the printer use? When were the various parts of the edition finished? Why was publication, promised for Christmas 1757, delayed for nearly eight years?

Publication metadata

Author(s): Hone J, McLaverty J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America

Year: 2019

Volume: 113

Issue: 2

Pages: 121-147

Print publication date: 01/06/2019

Acceptance date: 08/02/2019

Date deposited: 30/09/2019

ISSN (print): 0006-128X

ISSN (electronic): 2377-6528

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


DOI: 10.1086/703050


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric