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New Acquisition in Rare Books

March 22, 2013

The Department of Special Collections is pleased to have acquired recently Pierre Antoine de la Place’s Theatre Anglois, an eight-volume set published over the years 1746 to 1749.

This is the first complete edition of the first substantial attempt to translate Shakespeare into French.  It is a presentation copy, inscribed to the Chevalier de Villepatour (1719-1781), a commander of artillery in the French army and a veteran of the Seven Years’ War.  It also contains a printed dedication to Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield (1694-1773), a dedication not found in other copies examined.   While the title-page has “Londres” as the place of publication, this edition was in fact printed in Paris. 

La Place’s introductory Discours was instrumental in awakening the favorable reputation of Shakespeare in France, and La Place’s effort formed the basis of many later editions, notably those of Jean-François Ducis (1733–1816).