Edmond Malone (1741-1812)


Life
[err. Edmund;] b. 4 Oct., in Dublin, son of Edmund Malone (1704-1774), a barrister, yngr. br. of Richard Malone, Lord Sunderlin (1738-1816); matric. TCD, 1756; A.B. degree at TCD, 1761; entered Inner Temple, London, 1763-67; met Dr. Samuel Johnson 1765 and began writing essays and articles for Irish newspapers; Irish bar, 1767; practised with little success on Munster circuit up to his father’s death, when he inherited a modest income; began work on edition of Goldsmith, 1776, published 1780; produced edition of Goldsmith (1780), commenced in 1776;
 
settled in London, 1777; intimate with Johnson, Sir Joshua Reynolds (who painted his portrait), Bishop Percy, Burke, and James Boswell, and was the sole helper acknowledged in the preface to Boswell’s life of Johnson; first to edit Shakespeare’s poems; contrib. supplement to Johnson’s edition of Shakespeare (1780), including apocryphal plays incl. Locrine and reprint of Arthur Brooke's Romeus and Juliet; transcribed Henslowe’s papers and the diary of Henry Herbert, which has survived only in his notes; contrib. first part of his life of Shakespeare to Steeven’s second edition of the works, enquiring into the chronology of the plays, using Stationers’ Register entries, 1778;
 
oined the Literary Club, 1782; exposed Chatterton’s ‘Rowley’ forgeries, in the Gentleman’s Magazine (1782); was present at the impeachment of Warren Hastings, and gave account of Burke’s performance to Lord Charlemont, 1786; attempted to ascertain the order in which the plays attributed to Shakespeare were written; issued Historical Account on the Rise and Progress of the English Stage (1790); undertook edition of Shakespeare in 11 vols., 1790, professional rivalry prompting Steevens to quarrel with him; collected materials for new edition, published by James Boswell Jnr., 21 vols., called ‘third variorum’ ed. (1821), generally thought the best; also ed. works of Dryden;
 
projected new ed. and history of Elizabethan stage; exposed the forgeries of Samuel Ireland, 1798; accredited with establishing principals of textual scholarship and basis of authentic theatrical history; awarded DCL by Oxford, 1798; his edition of John Dryden (1800) later praised by Sir Walter Scott; supported the Act of Union; DDL awarded by University of Dublin, 1801; d. 25 April, buried in Kilbixy churchyard, near Baronstown; bequeathed his library to his brother, who presented the Shakespeare materials o the Bodleian. RR ODNBPI DIW DIL/2 OCEL CAB OCIL WJM

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Works
The Plays and Poems of William Shakespeare [ ...], 21 vols. (London: F.C. & J. Rivington 1790). See also Arthur Tillotson, ed., Correspondence of Thomas Percy and Edmund Malone (Baton Rouge 1944).

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Criticism
  • J. K. Walton, ‘Edmund Malone, an Irish Shakespeare Scholar,’ in Hermathena XCIX (Autumn 1964), pp.5-26 [see extract];
  • Arthur Tillotson, ed., Correspondence of Thomas Percy and Edmund Malone (Baton Rouge 1944);
  • Robert E. & Catherine Ward, eds., Letters of Charles O’Conor of Belanagare (Washington 1988), pp.496-88 [see extract];
  • David Wormsley, review of Peter Martin, Edmund Malone, Shakespearean Scholar: A Literary Biography (Cambridge UP 1995), in Times Literary Supplement (4 Aug. 1995), pp.5-6 [see extract];
  • Peter Martin, review of Edmund Malone, Shakespearean Scholar: A Literary Biography [Studies in 18th c. English Literature and Thought] (Cambridge UP 1995), 298pp., ill.
 
See also Richard Ryan, Biographia Hibernica: Irish Worthies (1821), Vol. II, pp.416-19 [“Edmund Malone”].

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Commentary
J
[ames] K. Walton, ‘Edmund Malone, an Irish Shakespeare scholar,’ in Hermathena XCIX (Autumn 1964), pp.5-26, Malone, 1741-1812; b. Dublin, barrister’s son; ed. Dr. Ford’s Sch. Molesworth St., and TCD; Irish bar, and journey to France, 1767; ten years on Munster circuit before going to London, 1777; supporter of Henry Flood; contrib. Baratania, according to his biographer, Prior; address to Dublin Univ. electors, 1774; letters of congratulation to Lord Charlemont, 1782; turned Shakespearean scholar with An Attempt to ascertain in which order the plays attributed to Shakespeare were written (1778); See also the Malone Society of Elizabethan scholars. His Works of Shakespeare (1790) contains a Life of Shakespeare, as well as revised versions of The Chronology, the History of the Stage, and his Dissertation on the three parts of King Henry VI, first published 1787. In Malone’s Shakespearean writings are found according to C J Sisson ‘the foundations of modern documented study.’ Malone exposed the Shakespeare forgeries of William H. Ireland in Letter to Lord Charlemont (1796); Other works include editions of Goldsmith (1780); Reynolds (1791), and prose works of Dryden (1800). He helped Boswell with his Life of Johnson, being the only helper acknowledged in the preface, also revised Journal of a Tour of the Hebrides (1785). To Bishop Percy, he wrote, ‘I always made battle against Boswell’s representation ... in the Life of Johnson, and often expressed to him my opinion that he rated Goldsmith much too low’; while Boswell testified to Malone’s every effort to render the Life perfect in successive editions by the addition of many notes [notably the third and sixth eds.] Malone’s monumental edition of Shakespeare was published by Boswell’s son, in 21 vols., 1821. Malone had Irish estates at Shinglas, Co. Westmeath and another in Co. Cavan; he was a fnd. member of the RIA, and attended meetings in 1791; LLD TCDE, 1801; died while his 1821 ed. of Shakespeare was in preparation with the printers; buried near Clonmacnoise. In his will, Malone bequeathed his collection of Shakespeare first eds. to TCD, but his executor, Sunderlin, gave them to the Bodleian in 1821.

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Robert E. & Catherine Ward, eds., Letters of Charles O’Conor of Belanagare (Washington 1988), Malone wrote to O’Conor in 1787, seeking information on his family history relative to the new entry on his br. Lord Sunderlin in Lodge’s Irish Peerage; and specifically enquiring the meaning of termon, and if the Clan Murray was not originally Scottish; O’Conor replied on 24 Dec., asserting that the Malone’s were a princely tribe established in Connaught by the O’Conors (grouped with them under the original line of Clan Murray, or Siol Murray), with power ‘in the country of Breaghmary [elsewhere copied as Breaghmany; p.487] bordering on the Termon of Clonmacnoise [and] ornamented the city with some of its principle buildings as our annals testify.’ He further asserts that the O’Malone’s of Balinahown in Connaught, who still hold 2,000 acres at the time of writing, are residual members of the family’. The complementary part of the letter refers to the lustre of Merlin’s father - to whom he claims to have ‘often listened’ - and his three sons, of whom the addressee is said to have ‘thrown lustre back on [his] ancestors ... without deriving any from them. Your natural powers under the highest cultivation constitute a singularity of eminence independent [and] self-derived’; a second letter from Malone seeking to know when the name of O’Malone first appeared in the annals, and dated 28 Jan. 1788, elicits a reply in Feb., ‘for 500 yrs. at least that family continued in the chieftainship of their territory in Breagh Mowr and since the succession of James I they continued possessed of good estates in their country to this day.’ (pp.496-88.)

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David Wormsley, review of Peter Martin, Edmund Malone, Shakespearean Scholar: A Literary Biography (Cambridge UP 1995), in Times Literary Supplement (4 Aug. 1995), pp.5-6; argues that Malone’s production of the Shakespeare Edn. of 1790, and preliminary publications leading up to it such as essay of 1778 on the order of Shakespeare’s plays are events of the first importance in the history of editorial scholarship generally; Malone unmasked Chatterton’s Rowley poems and Ireland’s collation of Shakespearean mss. and documents; collaborated with Boswell on Johnson’s Tour of the Hebrides and Life of Johnson; edited works of Sir Joshua Reynolds; pub. edn. of Dryden forming foundation of Walter Scott’s letter edn.; showed aggression towards France in writings of the 1790s (‘opprobrious den of shame’); engaged in defence of English constitution which he regarded in Burkian fashion as accumulation of English political practice; with Burke, men of letters [who] took the lead in producing documents central to the formation of a national identity which was often dubbed British, but which was in reality centrally English, and for the most part exemplified in purely English figures and events; Wormsley considers Martin’s book ‘timid’ and ‘an opportunity fumbled’.

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References
Dictionary of National Biography
, lists Edmund [sic] Malone (the Elder), judge, English bar, 1730, Irish courts from 1740s; MP Granard, IP, 1760-66; court of Common Pleas, 1766. ODNB also lists Lord Sunderlin (1738-1816); ed. TCD, BA, 1759; Irish Parl. MP, 1768-85; raised to peerage, 1785.

Justin McCarthy, ed., Irish Literature (Washington: Catholic Univ. of America 1904), gives extract from An Historical Account of the Rise and Progress of the English Stage [first appeared 1780, in suppl. to Steevens’s edn.].

Peter Kavanagh, The Irish Stage (1946) cites Edmond [sic] Malone, Historical Account on the Rise and Progress of the English Stage ... (1790).

University of Ulster Library (Morris Collection) holds Complete Edn. of Malone’s Shakespeare.

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Notes
Robert Jephson’s lively letter to Malone in James Prior’s Life of Edmund Malone (London 1860), p.190-91, claiming that ‘the book will at least have the outside of a gentleman.’ (Cited in W. B. Stanford, Ireland and the Classical Tradition, 1984, p.110.)

Impeachment of Warren Hastings was attended by Malone, who gave an account of Burke’s opening address in a letter to Lord Charlemont. (See under Burke, supra; also under Conor Cruise O’Brien, The Great Melody, 1992)

Oh ODNB!: Note that the Old ODNB listed Edmund [sic] Malone in error for Edmond, confounding the name-form of adopted by the son with that of the father - an error corrected in the NODNB (2005). (See Times Literary Supplement, 14 Feb. 2005, p.17.)

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