Item #1157 West Indian Illustrations of Shakespeare.
West Indian Illustrations of Shakespeare.
West Indian Illustrations of Shakespeare.
West Indian Illustrations of Shakespeare.
West Indian Illustrations of Shakespeare.
The Earliest Shakespeare Work Produced in Jamaica

West Indian Illustrations of Shakespeare.

Georgetown, Demerara: James Thomas, ca. 1885. Item #1157

Oblong 4to.  260 x 345 mm., [10 ¼ x 13 ½ inches].  Titlepage and contents leaf, followed by fifty half-one plates.  Bound in original half diced morocco and printed paper boards, expertly rebacked with matching diced morocco back strip.  Boards soiled, rubbed, and scraped, corners and edges worn.  Free endpapers mended, rear endpaper torn at edges.  Title-page tanned, else quite clean internally.  About very good overall.


A scarce work of illustrations celebrating Black life in Demerara, a region of Guyana.  The illustrations, based on quotations from Shakespeare’s plays, depict humorous scenes in the daily life of the Black population.  Included are scenes of courtship, cricket, fighting, cooking, bathing, dressing, shaving, fishing and much more.  While the illustrations are designed for broad comic effect, the overall result is an interesting depiction of life in British Guiana, with men and women dressed in fine garb and everyday clothes, portrayed in scenarios both dignified and stereotypical. 


One illustration depicts a bride and groom on their wedding day with the quote from Midsummer Night’s Dream, “This is some satire keen and critical, not sorting with a nuptial ceremony.”  Another from Comedy of Errors, “My wife is in a wayward mood to-day”, shows a man suffering the consequences of a domestic argument.  Others show people banking, at the pharmacist, going to the dentist, snacking on sugar cane, and engaged in any number of everyday occupations. 


The illustrations appear to be half-tones of original charcoal drawings, and were printed in the office of The Argosy, one of British Guiana’s chief newspapers from 1880-1907.  OCLC records nine copies in the United States and thirteen worldwide.  A note in the description of the New York Public Library copy states, that this is the earliest Shakespeare work produced in Jamaica.

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Price: $6,000.00