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Archive for August, 2010

Unfinished business

Two recent Early Modern acquisitions share a common theme: abandoned projects of important authors. In 1757, the publisher Robert Dodsley commissioned Edmund Burke to produce a compact, single-volume history of England, sensing a market unserved by the expensive multi-volume sets then available. Burke worked slowly (having also taken on the editorship of the Annual Register) but steadily on the project for several years, turning over to Dodsley sections of the manuscript as they were completed. The first 48 pages, beginning with the Roman invasion of Britain, and ending in 388 A.D., had already been printed when the project was scrapped around 1762.

Edmund Burke, An essay towards an abridgment of the English history, *EC75.B9177.760e

Thomas Percy left a number of unfinished projects at his death, including an intended edition of the works of George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham (1628-1687). The section of the works including the 1672 play The Rehearsal was printed probably at some time in the 1760s, but the unpublished sheets languished for many years in the warehouse of John Nichols, where they were eventually destroyed in an 1808 fire.

George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, The Rehearsal, *EC75.P4128.770r

Both works are understandably rare: ESTC lists just four other copies of Burke’s Abridgment, and has no listing at all for the Percy work, although a copy is known to survive at the Bodleian Library at Oxford.

Published in:John Overholt |on August 31st, 2010 |Comments Off on Unfinished business