Peter Sacks

John P. Marquand Professor of English

The Dramatic Works of William Shakspeare
London, 1814-18

This book once rested in the “living hand” of Keats. That hand also underlined and annotated many of the tiny volume’s pages. The poet’s hand was thus not only on but in the book. Of all his books, this seven volume set of Shakespeare (spelled Shakspeare on their title pages), edited by Dr. Johnson, were among Keats’s most cherished, talismanic possessions.
I urge my students to encounter this book, as one of the most immediate examples of how a book can become a source of literal, not merely literary, sustenance. Here is the book which Keats would again and again unpack on his travels, while quoting from his much underscored The Tempest: “here’s my comfort.”

5 L x 3.5 W x 1.5 Th (in)
Keats EC8 K2262 Zz814s (vol.VI). Gift of Arthur Amory Houghton, Jr., 1941

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