1850 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

George Steevens

Edward S. Creasy, in Memoirs of Eminent Etonians (1850) 471-72.



The consideration of the life of the learned annotator on the ancient drama [Richard Porson], reminds me not to pass unnoticed the celebrated annotator on the writings of our own great dramatist, Shakspeare.

George Steevens was born in 1736. He was educated first at Kingston-upon-Thames, and afterwards at Eton. On leaving Eton he succeeded to a scholarship at King's College.

Steevens possessed a good private fortune, and the whole object of his life seems to have been to illustrate and edit Shakspeare.

In 1766 he published twenty of Shakspeare's plays, in four volumes, 8vo. In 1773, with the assistance of Dr. Johnson, he published an illustrated edition of the poet's whole works, in ten volumes, 8vo, of which a second edition appeared in 1785, and a third, in fifteen volumes, in 1793. Mr. Steevens had studied the age of Shakspeare, and had employed his persevering industry in becoming acquainted with the writings, manners, and laws of that period, as well as the provincial peculiarities, whether of language or custom, which prevailed in different parts of the kingdom, but more particularly in those where Shakspeare passed the early years of his life. This store of knowledge he was continually increasing by the acquisition of the rare and obsolete publications of a former age, which he spared no expense to obtain. Steevens died in 1800.