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Revised Edition published 1856. Reprinted 1868.
Third Edition published 1875.
CHISWICK PRESS : CHARLES WHITTINGHAM AND CO
TOOKS COURT, CHANCERY LANE, LONDON
HE late Mr. S. W. Singer first under
took to edit the works of Shakespeare at the request of the well-known printer, Charles Whittingham (the
elder), about the year 1826, when the rival editions of Steevens and Malone were the chief representatives of Shakespearean criticism. Mr. Singer's object was to provide “an abridged commentary in which all superfluous and refuted explanations and conjectures, and all the controversies and squabbles of contending critics should be omitted, and such elucidations only of obsolete words and obscure phrases, and such critical illustrations of the text as might be deemed most generally useful, be retained.” At the same time the text of previous editors was compared with the early editions, and some of the readings which had been too hastily rejected restored.
In course of time this edition, which was reprinted in Germany as well as America, went out of print, and the younger Charles Whittingham projected a new and revised edition, which appeared in a complete form in 1856.
For this Mr. Singer made a much more careful collation of the old copies, and a thorough revision of the text and notes, with the result that it still remains one of the best editions for ordinary use. Without anticipating the extreme conservatism of the Cambridge editors, whose aim was mainly to combine the authentic editions into a uniform text, and to avoid all hypothetic restoration, the genuineness of which is not practically certain, Mr. Singer attached no less importance to the early texts; he makes no departure from them without due notice to the reader, while preserving all readings to which the least degree of credit can be given. If it be admitted that for the general reader Shakespeare should be presented in an intelligible form, a better method of editing could not be devised.
A third edition was issued in 1875, after Mr. Singer's death, which incorporated various emendations left by him, and a revised version of the introductory Life of Shakespeare, which had been contributed by his friend, the late Mr. Watkiss Lloyd.