First edition, first issue, with the T. Davison imprint on the verso of p.235 of volume one, and the earlier address of Hanway Street on the advertisements in volume two. Two volumes. 12mo. Superbly bound in full blue morocco by Lortic of Paris with extensive gilt decoration including gilt vignettes of Puck to each corner of the boards. The spines with five raised bands and compartments with decoration and titles in gilt. Gilt dentelles. All edges gilt. Marbled endpapers. Illustrated with 20 engraved plates by William Blake after drawings by William Mulready. A near fine set, the bindings firm and bright with a slight split to the head of the upper joint of the first volume and minor rubbing to the extremities of each. The contents with the bookplates of Robert Hoe and Robert J. Collier to the front pastedowns of each volume and a little scattered foxing are otherwise clean throughout.
A beautiful set of the first edition of this important work, which formed the first attempt to make Shakespeare accessible to a young audience. The Tales were chiefly the work of Charles's sister Mary Lamb, who produced fourteen of the twenty adaptations, with the rest by Charles, under the suggestion and encouragement of William Godwin, who had hired Thomas Hodgkins to run The Juvenile Library on his behalf. "Originally the Tales were to be anonymous but Godwin persuaded the unreluctant Charles to have his name printed on the title-page", Mary's name did not appear until the seventh edition in 1838 (St Clair, The Godwins and the Shelleys). It was "the first book which, appealing to a general audience and to a rising generation, made Shakespeare a familiar and popular author", and went on to become a perennial favourite, remaining in print ever since (Cambridge History of English Literature). [Ashley III.42; Gumuchian 3614; Muir, English Childrens' Books 102-3, Grolier Club, One Hundred Books Famous in Children's Literature, 24]. Provenance: from the library of Robert Hoe (1839-1909; first president of the Grolier Club); the library of Robert J. Collier (1876-1918).
Stock code: 18953