Hard Cover. London: Printed by Adam Islip, 1602. Fine.
Edited by Thomas Speght and revised with the help of Francis Thynne. Illustrated with two title pages, John Speed's full-page portrait of Chaucer with genealogical border, woodcut initials, ornaments, and head-and-tail pieces throughout, and knight and lance woodcut to Fol. 1. Folio. Second Speght edition (Seventh collected edition overall), with errata leaf. Finely bound by W. Pratt in red morocco, boards triple-ruled in gilt, spine with six raised bands, spine lettered, ruled and decorated in gilt, all edges gilt, gilt turn-ins, red marbled endpapers, 19th century Alexander Young bookplate to front pastedown, and 19th century Parliament member John Burns ownership signature to verso of front free endpaper. About fine, with light rubbing to joints and corners, subtle repair to first few leaves, with small chips neatly closed, Chaucer portrait supplied from another copy, and repair to lower gutter of last leaf. Overall, a stately example, attractively bound with exceptionally clean pages. STC 5080. This collection of Chaucer's works includes The Canterbury Tales, Troilus and Criseyde, The Legend of Good Women, The House of Fame, The Testament of Love, assorted ballads, and many others. Chaucer's best-known work, The Canterbury Tales (1392), is a collection of 14th century short stories concerning the story-telling contest of a group of traveling pilgrims written in Middle English during the Hundred Years' War. Chaucer is widely recognized as the "Father of English Literature" for his pioneering use of English vernacular and his novelistic innovations. He was the first literary giant to be buried in what is now the Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey, resting place of such luminaries as Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, and Thomas Hardy. Thomas Speght's first edition of this collected works was published in 1598 and drew heavily from John Stow's 1561 edition. Notably, Speght's edition included one of the first printed biographies of Chaucer and was the definitive source for facts about the author's life until the mid-19th century. It also included an extensive glossary for words that, by the late 16th century, had fallen out of use. For this second edition, Speght addressed some of the criticisms levied at his first edition by Francis Thynne, the son of William Thynne, a former Chaucer editor. According to Pforzheimer, "This edition ... is the earliest in which thorough punctuation was attempted, and in many other ways it is a distinct improvement upon Speght's first edition." Additionally, two new works, Jack Uplande and La Priere de Nostre Dame, were added, and the glossary was updated significantly. Item #GCH004