Isaac Reed - Encyclopedia

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ISAAC REED (1742-1807), English Shakespearian editor, son of a baker, was born on New Year's Day, 1742, in London. He was articled to a solicitor, and eventually set up as a conveyancer at Staple Inn, where he had a considerable practice. His first important work was the Biographia dramatica (2 vols., 1782), consisting of biographies of the dramatists and a descriptive dictionary of their plays. This book, which was an. enlargement of David Erskine Baker's Companion to the Playhouse (2 vols., 1764), was re-edited (3 vols.) by Stephen Jones in 1811, and is a valuable authority. The original work by Baker had been based on Gerard Langbaine's Account of the English Dramatick Poets (1691), Giles Jacob's Poetical Register (1719), Thomas Whincop's "List of all the Dramatic Authors" (printed with his tragedy of Scanderbeg, 1747) and the MSS. of Thomas Coxeter (1689-1747), an industrious antiquary who had collected much useful material. Reed's Notitia dramatica (Addit. MSS. 25390-2, British Museum), supplementary to the Biographia, was never published. He revised Dodsley's Collection of Old Plays (1 2 vols., 1780). He also re-edited Johnson and Steevens's edition (1773) of Shakespeare. Reed's edition was published in 10 vols. (1785), and he gave great assistance to Steevens in his edition (1793). He was Steevens's literary executor, and in 1803 published another edition (21 vols.) based on Steevens's later collections. This, which is known as the first variorum, was re-issued ten years later. He died on the 5th of January 1807. His valuable library of theatrical literature was catalogued for sale as Bibliotheca Reediana (1807).

See John Nichol's Lit. Anec. of the 18th Century (vol. ii., 1812); and Edward Dowden, Essays, Modern and Elizabethan.

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