Robert Dodsley

1703-1764; began as footman to Mrs. Lowther and ended as belle-lettrist printer; poems appeared in Muse in Livery (1732); briefly worked as prompter in the Royal Theatre, Dublin in c.1742; issued A Select Collection of Old Plays (1744), in which inter al.Ram Alley by David Barry; edited A Collection of Poems by Several Hands (1748-58), first published in three volumes in a shoddily produced edition, followed in 1755 by a fourth volume and completed in 1758 with fifth and sixth vols., all appearing in a superior printing, and then reprinted in 1763, by which time some 24,000 copies of this leading anthology of polite literature in the Augustan style had been sold; six more editions to 1782, issued by his brother and successor at Tully’s Head; remembered by Byron as ‘the last decent thing of its kind’ when Murray projected an anthology in 1814; a literary dining-club at Yale was known as ‘Dodsley’s Collection’; his sonand namesake, with whom he is often confused, published works of Pope, Johnson, Young, Goldsmith, Gray, Akenside, and Shenstone (1763) and wrote plays incl. The Miller of Mansfield (1748-49), a comedy, and Cleone (1758), a tragedy; fnd. Annual Register with assistance of Edmund Burke in 1758; credited with suggesting the compilation of an English dictionary to Dr. Johnson; putative author of The Economy of Human Life (1803, and earlier edns), actually by Lord Chesterfield (Stanhope), who was Irish Viceroy. ODNB OCEL

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Individual works, Preaching, imit. Horace [1735, 1746]; Beauty or the Art of Charming, poem (1735); Blind Beggar of Bethnal Green, one act ballad farce (1741); Book of J[ames] A[nnesley], calling himself 6th Earl of Angelesey (1743); The Cave of Pope: A Prophecy, Verses on the Grotto at Twickenham (1743); Chronicles of the Kings of England (1799, edns. to 1814); Cleone, a five act trag. in verse, with Melopmene: An Ode (1758, 1759); A Collection of Poems by Several Hands, ed. R.D. (1748, edns. to 1782), notes by Horace Walpole; Public Virtue, a poem (1753); The Preceptor, a general course of education, pref. Dr. Johnson (1748); A Muse in Livery, sketch of ... poverty (1732); The Miller, adapted in Scots Gallic by W. M. Murra[r]y (1850).

Collected Works, King [and] The Miller of Mansfield (1701), one act play; “Toy Shop” [one act farce], in Bell’s British Theatre, Vol. 3 (1784); “Poetical Works and Life”, in R. Anderson, M.D., ed., Complete Edition of Poets of Great Britain, Vol. XI (1793); Poetical Works, in Pocket Edition of Select British Poets [1797]; Melopmene or the Regions of Terror and Pity, with Pain and Patience, Colin’s Kiss, and Other Poems, in Cabinet of Poetry, Vol. 5 (1808); Life and Poems, in Chalmers’s Works of the English Poets, Vol. 5 (1810). Also, Miscellanies, 2 vols. (1745).

The Economy of Human Life (1803, and earlier eds) [attrib. to Dodsley him but in fact by Lord Chesterfield (Stanhope)]. There was a French trans 1839; an Italian (1797), and a Latin version also [orig.?] (1752). The whole was rendered by S. Watts in heroic verse as Chinese Maxims from Economy &c.; also trans. into Irish [as] Sduirach na Beatha Shaoghalta [Pt. 1 only] le R. Dodsley [recte Stanhope].

See also Air eadar-theangachadh o an bheurla gu Gaelic Allbannach le Alastair MacLauruinn [The Direction of Mortal Life, being a translation from English into Scots Gaelic], p. xii, 131 (T. Stiwart, Dunn Eidinn, 1806).

Reprints, Dodsley’s Select Collection of Old English Plays (facs. rep. 1964); Michael Suarez, SJ, ed. Dodsley, A Collection of Poems by Several Hands, 6 vols. [rep. of 1782 edn.] (London: Routledge/Thoemmes Press 1998), 2,477pp. See review by James Tierney, TLS, 9 Oct. 1998, pp.27-28.

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Ralph Straus, Robert Dodsley, Poet, Publisher and Playwright ([1910]; NY: Burt Franklin 1968), 407pp., 13 pls., and bibl. of Dodsley’s works (72pp.); R. C. Simmons, The Rise of Robert Dodsley: Creating the New Age of Print (Carbondale: S. Illinois UP 1996); see also Analytical bibliography by R. W. Chapman (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1933). Note, J. Tierney, The Correspondence of Robert Dodsley, 1764-1773 (Cambridge: University Press 1988) [viz., Dodsley the Younger]. See also Langhans, ed., Irish Promptbooks

James Tierney, review of Dodsley, A Collection of Poems by Several Hands, 6 vols. [rep. of 1782 edn.] (London: Routledge/Thoemmes Press 1998), 2,477pp. [0415 14382 9], in Times Literary Supplement, 9 Oct. 1998, pp.27-28.

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Charles A. Read, The Cabinet of Irish Literature [1876-78], remarks that Eliz. Ryves took on the ‘historical and political departments ... when Dodsley gave up the management of the Annual Register.’

A. N. Jeffares, Anglo-Irish Literature (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1982), notes that Edmund Burke edited the Annual Register for Dodsley from 1779 onwards (p.68).

Booksellers: Eric Stevens (Cat. 1992) lists The Correspondence of Robert Dodsley, 1733-1764, ed. James E Tierney (Cambridge UP 1988), 599p. [55].

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