A General History of the Stage, from its Origin in Greece down to the present Time. With the Memoirs of most of the principal Performers that have appeared on the English and Irish Stage for these last Fifty Years

CHETWOOD, William Rufus (d. 1766)

Published by W. Owen, near Temple-Bar, London, 1749
/ Condition: Very Good+ / Hardcover
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Bibliographic Details

Title: A General History of the Stage, from its ...

Publisher: W. Owen, near Temple-Bar, London

Publication Date: 1749

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: Very Good+

Edition: First Edition.


First Edition of Chetwood’s ‘General History of the Stage,’ a curious report driven by his unique interests, but of great anecdotal value. [viii], 256 pages. 12mo (165 x 95mm). Contemporary sheep, rebacked, morocco label "CHETWOOD’S HIST OF THE STAGE"; (light marginal dampstaining throughout and minor edgewear). Ownership inscription on a2 "J.Atkinson 1749" and 19th-century booklabel of author W. J. C. Storey (fl. 1815) to front pastedown. Chetwood was a London-based bookseller and dramatist. In 1749, his General History of the Stage was published but received little acclaim by the theater scene. Mainly, Chetwood was criticized for writing with a particularly antipathetic approach to historic theater. He starts with a brief history of the classical stage and inserts Latin quotations, to which he admits to the reader that he cannot read. He goes on to celebrate Elizabethan drama, yet keeps a narrow scope on his favorite playwrights, like Thomas Heywood. Chetwood arrives at his own time in theater history with the same, curious omissions and then seemingly gives up, or as he says on page 59, "I shall leave this last Quarter of a Hundred years to the memory of others, that I may sooner get to the conclusion of my little History." His mode has been called "journalistic" to the extent that he swaps with the reader his "strange but true" facts. But some of Chetwood’s conclusions were quite outrageous, as in his objection to Italian gymnast and actress Madame Violante’s too muscular legs. Using this publication to flourish his claim to the status of "man of the theater," Chetwood dedicated his History to David Garrick, John Rich and Thomas Sheridan, three Theatre Royal managers with whom he trained. Chetwood’s History may have made many puffed-up conclusions pertaining to the history of the stage but it does contain memorials of actors with occasional observations on dramatic poets and their works. The Oxford Dictionary of National Bibliography states, "His account is one of the most important and valuable records of the era and contains numerous unique anecdotes of personnel and performances" (ODNB). First Edition. Lowe-Arnott-Robinson 835; NCBEL II, 1779. Bookseller Inventory # D10979

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