This book is a general survey of Shakespeare's eighteenth-century editions and editors, including prefaces and footnote debates, editorial concern about Shakespeare's 'learning', his meaning, his coarseness, and his puns; there are chapters on the illustrations, and growth of critical apparatus. It covers the whole period from Nicholas Rowe (1709) to the twenty-one volume Boswell-Malone variorum (1821), generally accepted on the foundation of modern Shakespeare scholarship. Rowe was the pioneer in attempting to retrieve a true text, and his six octavo volumes with their pleasant engravings offered the first 'library edition' of Shakespeare.Colin Franklin follows the editorial and publishing history of these works through passionate disputes which divided Pope from Theobald, Warburton from Hanmer, Steevens form Malone, analysing Johnson's calmer position among them. He provides, with ample quotation, an entertaining narrative of this complex theme. This book fills a surprising gap in the thick hedge of Shakespeare studies.