683G Benjamin Jonson ca. 1572-1637


The Works of Ben Jonson, which were formerly Printed in Two Volumes, are now Reprinted in One, to which is added a Comedy, called the New Inn, with Additions never before Published.


London: Printed by Thomas Hodgkin, for H. Herringman, E. Brewster, T. Bassett, R. Chiswell, M. Wotton, G. Conyers, 1692                                                 $7,500

Folio 14 1/2 x 9 inches A6, B-Ll4, Oo-Bbb4, Ccc2, Eee-Zzz4, Aaaa-Zzzz4, Aaaaa4, Bbbbb6. “Dr. Greg called attention to the fact that sheet Ccc of this volume is invariably discolored. Besides that sheet, in all copies examined, sheet Zz2-3 is likewise foxed.” (Pforzheimer) Notably, these sheets are printed on paper which has a watermark not found elsewhere in the volume. The foxing is most likely due to the inferior quality of the paper, since all offending sheets share the same watermark.

First complete collected edition. This copy is bound in contemporary calf with a gilt stamp of initals under a correnet which has been rebacked. It is a very large and clean copy.

DSC_0270This edition, the last of the folio editions, of Ben Jonson’s works.  It is truly complete, containing all the masques; epigrams; plays; verse letters and panegyrics; sonnets; the English Grammar; Timber, or Discoveries; and the translation of Horace’s de Arte Poetica. The New Inne is included in this collected edition for the first time.

“Jonson’s life was tough and turbulent. After his father’s early death, Ben was adopted in infancy by a bricklayer and educated by the great classical scholar and antiquarian William Camden, before necessity drove him to enter the army. In Flanders, where the Dutch with English help were warring against the Spaniards, he fought single-handed with one of the enemy before the massed armies, and killed his man. Returning to England about 1595, he began to work as an actor and playwright but was drawn from one storm center to another. He killed a fellow actor in a duel, and escaped the gallows only by pleading ‘benefit of the clergy’ (i.e., by proving he could read and write, which entitled him to plead before a more lenient court). He was jailed for insulting the Scottish nation at a time when King James was newly arrived from Scotland. He took furious part in an intricate set of literary wars with his fellow playwrights. Having converted to Catholicism, he was the object of deep suspicion after the Gunpowder Plot of Guy Fawkes (1605), when the phobia against his religion reached its height. Yet he rode out all these troubles, growing mellower as he grew older, and in his latter years became the unofficial literary dictator of London, the king’s pensioned poet, a favorite around the court, and the good friend of men like Shakespeare, Donne, Francis Beaumont, John Selden, Francis Bacon, dukes, diplomats, and distinguished folk generally. In addition, he engaged the affection of younger men (poets like Robert Herrick, Thomas Carew, and Sir John Suckling, speculative thinkers like Lord Falkland and Sir Kenelm Digby), who delighted to christen themselves ‘sons of Ben.’ Sons of Ben provided the nucleus of the entire ‘Cavalier school’ of English poets.” (Norton Anthology of English Literature)


Wing J-1006; Pforzheimer 561.