The Inconstant: or, The Way to Win Him. A Comedy, as it is Acted at the Theatre Royal in Drury-lane. by his Majesty's Servants
London: Ralph Smith, 1702. Hardcover. A unique copy of a first edition Restoration comedy from the personal library of actor and theater manager John Philip Kemble. The volume is initialed, collated, and pronounced perfect on the title page in ink by Kemble along with the date. John Philip Kemble (1757 - 1823) was an important English actor who also achieved fame as the manager of the Drury Lane and Covent Garden theaters. He was also known for assembling a theatrical library that was unrivaled. After he retired in 1819 he sold his collection of 4000 plays and forty volumes of playbills to Cavendish, the 6th Duke of Devonshire. The Devonshire collection is now part of the Huntington Library in San Marino, California. The remainder of Kemble's library was auctioned by Evans in Pall Mall over ten days beginning January 21, 1821 (from the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography). George Farquhar (1677 - 1707) was an Irish playwright of real comic power who wrote for the English stage at the beginning of the 18th century. He stood out from his contemporaries for originality of dialogue and a stage sense that doubtless stemmed from his experience as an actor. His early plays were primarily spirited variations on a theme: young men have their fling for four acts and reform, unconvincingly, in the fifth. The plays have freshness, however, as well as wit and a lively human sympathy (Encyclopedia Britannica). For this copy each individual page has been meticulously framed on slightly larger sheets of contemporary white paper. It has been beautifully bound by Riviere and Son in full tan calf with gold tooling and lettering. The spines have five raised bands with gilt decorated compartments and there are two leather labels, one with the play's title and author, and the other stating "J.P. Kemble's Copy." With gilt dentelles, marbled endpapers, and all edges gilt, with a few splash marks on cover otherwise in near fine condition. The pages of the play are browned with occasional spots of foxing and soiling but text is completely legible. In very good condition. Measures 6.5 x 9 inches. 54 pages. DRAMA/012121. Near Fine.