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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: October ::
Re: Bowdlerized Shakespeare
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1738  Thursday, 14 October 1999.

From:           A. D. Murphy <
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Date:           Wednesday, 13 Oct 1999 15:55:35 +0100
Subject: 10.1728 Re: Bowdlerized Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1728 Re: Bowdlerized Shakespeare

>If one actually looks, textually, at the Bowdler and Malone editions,
>one finds that Bowdler did not Bowdlerize so much as one has been lead
>to believe.

To some extent, though, this depends on which edition of Bowdler one is
talking about. The first, anonymous, edition (1807), which Henrietta
Bowdler was largely responsible for, reduced the canon to just 20 plays
and cut pretty rigorously. When Thomas Bowdler took over the project for
the second edition, he expanded the canon and restored a good number of
passages (though also making cuts of his own). Faced with _Measure for
Measure_, he simply gave up, substituting John Philip Kemble's acting
text in place of Shakespeare's (though, physician as he was, he did
attempt surgery on the original for the next, 1820, edition).

Henrietta Bowdler was a fascinating character in her own right. In
addition to the 'Family Shakespeare', she also published (again
anonymously) Sermons on the Doctrines and Duties of Christianity, which
ran through 50 printings in just about as many years. The story goes
that the Bishop of London wrote to the author of the Sermons via the
publisher, offering him (as he presumed) a parish in his diocese!

Cheers,
Andrew
 

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