Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Family Heirloom - Shakspeare!

Recently, I received a copy of "The Handy-Volume Shakspeare" series from my Mum who told me that it belonged to her grandfather Richard Cullen. Of the original 13 volumes, this set comprises nine volumes, #VIII, #IX, #X, and #XI are missing. The set is not of any value - many copies are on sale on line for less than €20. Their condition is not great, further reducing value as a set.

There is no publication date on any of the books, though I believe they were are from the 1880s. Note the spelling of "Shakspeare" - this was a common spelling of the Bard's name in the 19th century.

An interesting feature of this set is that inside the front cover there is a sticker with the name "Wilson" and a family crest. On the first page there is a very neat signature for "HORACE WILSON". I asked my Mum if this name rings a bell, but she has no memory of the name in the family. It is therefore likely that my great-grandfather bought this in a second hand book shop in Dublin.

I was never really a fan of Shakespeare's work. In secondary school I studied Julius Caesar, As You Like It, The Tempest, King Lear, and Coriolanus. I once attended a performance of King Lear in the Globe Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon - I don't believe I have ever seen a performance of Macbeth or Hamlet.

I'll keep these little books as a memento of my great-grandfather. I am unlikely to read them, though I do open up random pages to see if any famous quotes stand out. I've put a post-it note inside the cover of volume I, so that whoever ends up with these books after me will know where they came from.

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