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The Bowdler Shakespeare
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Online publication date: August 2010
  • Print publication year: 2009
  • First published in: 1853
  • Online ISBN: 9780511701405
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511701405
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Book description

'The Family Shakspeare: in which nothing is added to the original text, but those words and expressions are omitted which cannot with propriety be read in a family.' These words on the title pages of this edition gave rise to the verb 'to bowdlerise' - to remove or modify text considered vulgar or objectionable. Although the first edition was in fact created by Henrietta Maria Bowdler (1750–1830) and published in 1807, the many subsequent editions were published under the name of her brother Thomas (1754–1825), who devoted his time to prison reform and chess, as well as the sanitising of Shakespeare. The Bowdlers' work became enormously popular as the scandal-ridden Regency gave way to Victorian respectability. This volume, from the 1853 edition, contains Macbeth, King John, King Richard II, King Henry IV, Part 1, King Henry IV, Part 2, and King Henry V.

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