Title page of Bowdler's best-known work
|Born||11 July 1754|
|Died||24 February 1825 70) (aged|
|The Family Shakspeare (1807)|
Thomas Bowdler, LRCP, FRS ( // ; 11 July 1754 – 24 February 1825 ) was an English doctor best known for publishing The Family Shakespeare , an expurgated edition of William Shakespeare's plays. The work, edited by his sister Henrietta Maria Bowdler, was intended to provide a version of Shakespeare that was more appropriate than the original for 19th-century women and children. Bowdler also published several other works, some reflecting his interest in and knowledge of continental Europe. Bowdler's last work was an expurgated version of Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire , published posthumously in 1826 under the supervision of his nephew and biographer, Thomas Bowdler the Younger.
The verb bowdlerise (or bowdlerize)has linked his name with the censorship or omission of elements deemed inappropriate for children, not only in literature but also in motion pictures and television programmes.
Thomas Bowdler was born in Box, near Bath, Somerset, the youngest son of the six children of Thomas Bowdler (c. 1719–1785), a banker of substantial fortune,and his wife, Elizabeth, née Cotton (d. 1797), the daughter of Sir John Cotton, 6th Baronet of Conington, Huntingdonshire. Bowdler studied medicine at the universities of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, where he received his degree in 1776, graduating with a thesis on intermittent fevers. He spent the next four years travelling through continental Europe, visiting Germany, Hungary, Italy, Sicily, and Portugal. In 1781 he caught a fever in Lisbon from a young friend whom he was attending to through a fatal illness. He returned to England in broken health and with a strong aversion to the medical profession. In 1781 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) and a Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians (LRCP), but did not continue to practice medicine. He devoted himself instead to the cause of prison reform.
Bowdler was also a strong chess player and once played eight recorded games against the best chess player of the time, François-André Danican Philidor, who was so confident of his superiority that he played with several handicaps. Bowdler won twice, lost three times, and drew three times.The Bowdler Attack is named after him.
Bowdler's first published work was Letters Written in Holland in the Months of September and October 1787 (1788), which gave his eye-witness account of the Patriots' uprising.In 1800 Bowdler took a lease on a country estate at St. Boniface, on the Isle of Wight, where he lived for ten years. In September 1806, when he was 52, he married Elizabeth Trevenen (née Farquharson), age 48, the widow of the naval officer Captain James Trevenen who had died in Catherine the Great's service at Kronstadt in 1790. The marriage was unhappy, and after a few years Bowdler and his wife separated. They had no children. After the separation, the marriage was never mentioned by the Bowdler family; in the biography of Bowdler written by his nephew, Thomas Bowdler, there is no mention of Bowdler ever marrying.
In 1807, the first edition of the Bowdlers' The Family Shakspeare, covering 20 plays, was published in four small volumes.From 1811 until his death in 1825, Bowdler lived at Rhyddings House, overlooking Swansea Bay, from where he travelled extensively in Britain and continental Europe. In 1815, he published Observations on Emigration to France, With an Account of Health, Economy, and the Education of Children, a cautionary work propounding his view that English invalids should avoid French spas and go instead to Malta. In 1818, Bowdler published an expanded edition of The Family Shakspeare, covering all 36 available plays, which had considerable success. By 1827 the work had gone into its fifth edition. In his last years, Bowdler prepared an expurgated version of the works of the historian Edward Gibbon, which was published posthumously in 1826. His sister Jane Bowdler (1743–1784) was a poet and essayist, and another sister, Henrietta Maria Bowdler (Harriet) (1750–1830), collaborated with Bowdler on his expurgated Shakespeare.
Bowdler died in Swansea at the age of 70 and was buried there, at Oystermouth.He bequeathed donations to the poor of Swansea and Box. His large library, consisting of unexpurgated volumes of 17th and 18th century tracts, collected by his ancestors Thomas Bowdler (1638–1700) and Thomas Bowdler (1661–1738), was donated to the University of Wales, Lampeter. In 1825 Bowdler's nephew, also called Thomas Bowdler, published his Memoir of the Late John Bowdler, Esq., to Which Is Added, Some Account of the Late Thomas Bowdler, Esq. Editor of the Family Shakspeare.
In Bowdler's childhood, his father had entertained his family with readings from Shakespeare. Later in life, Bowdler realized that his father had been omitting or altering passages he felt unsuitable for the ears of his wife and children. Bowdler felt it would be worthwhile to publish an edition which might be used in a family whose father was not a sufficiently "circumspect and judicious reader" to accomplish this expurgation himself.
In 1807 the first edition of the Bowdlers' The Family Shakspeare was published in four duodecimo volumes, containing 24 plays. In 1818 the second edition, covering all 36 available plays, was published.Each play is preceded by an introduction wherein Bowdler summarizes and justifies his changes to the text. According to his nephew's Memoir, the first edition was prepared by Bowdler's sister, Harriet, but both were published under Thomas Bowdler's name. This was likely because a woman could not then publicly admit that she was capable of such editing and compilation, nor that she understood Shakespeare's racy verses. By 1850 eleven editions had been printed.
The spelling "Shakspeare", used by Bowdler and also by his nephew Thomas in his memoir of Thomas Bowdler the elder,was changed in later editions (from 1847 on) to "Shakespeare", reflecting changes in the standard spelling of Shakespeare's name.
The Bowdlers were not the first to undertake such a project. Bowdler's commitment to not augmenting or adding to Shakespeare's text, instead only removing sensitive material, was in contrast with the practice of earlier editors. Nahum Tate as Poet Laureate had rewritten the tragedy of King Lear with a happy ending; In 1807, Charles Lamb and Mary Lamb published Tales from Shakespeare for children with synopses of 20 of the plays, but seldom quoted the original text.Though The Family Shakespeare was considered a negative example of censorship by the literary establishment and its commitment to the "authentic" Shakespeare, the Bowdlers' expurgated editions made it more acceptable to teach Shakespeare to wider and younger audiences. As said by the poet Algernon Charles Swinburne, "More nauseous and more foolish cant was never chattered than that which would deride the memory or depreciate the merits of Bowdler. No man ever did better service to Shakespeare than the man who made it possible to put him into the hands of intelligent and imaginative children".
Some examples of alterations made by Bowdler's edition:
Prominent modern literary figures such as Michiko Kakutani (in the New York Times) and William Safire (in his book, How Not to Write) have accused Bowdler of changing Lady Macbeth's famous "Out, damned spot!" line in Macbeth to "Out, crimson spot!"But Bowdler did not do that. Thomas Bulfinch and Stephen Bulfinch did, in their 1865 edition of Shakespeare's works.
|Look up bowdlerise in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
The earliest texts of William Shakespeare's works were published during the 16th and 17th centuries in quarto or folio format. Folios are large, tall volumes; quartos are smaller, roughly half the size. The publications of the latter are usually abbreviated to Q1, Q2, etc., where the letter stands for "quarto" and the number for the first, second, or third edition published.
This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1818.
This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1807.
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Nicholas Rowe, English dramatist, poet and miscellaneous writer, was appointed Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom in 1715. His plays and poems were well-received during his lifetime, with one of his translations described as one of the greatest productions in English poetry. He was also considered the first editor of the works of William Shakespeare.
Bowdler, a prominent Shropshire family descended from Baldwin de Boulers.
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Events from the year 1818 in the United Kingdom.
Expurgation, also known as bowdlerization, is a form of censorship which involves purging anything deemed noxious or offensive from an artistic work, or other type of writing of media.
Mémoires de deux jeunes mariées is an epistolary novel by the French writer Honoré de Balzac. It was serialized in the French newspaper La Presse in 1841 and published by Furne in 1842 as the first work in the second volume of Balzac's La Comédie humaine. It was dedicated to the French novelist George Sand. The first English translation of the novel appeared in 1902, with a preface by Henry James.
James Boaden was an English biographer, dramatist, and journalist.
Jane Bowdler (1743–1784) was an English poet and essayist. Her work gained longstanding popularity after her death.
Henrietta Maria Bowdler (1750–1830), commonly called Mrs. Harriet Bowdler, was an English religious author and literary expurgator, notably of the works of Shakespeare.
John Bowdler (1746–1823) was a campaigner for moral reform in Britain and a founder of the Church Building Society. His brother and sister were the editors of the expurgated Family Shakspeare.
John Bowdler the Younger, was an English essayist, poet and lawyer.
Thomas Bowdler the Younger (1782–1856) was an Anglican priest, who wrote a memoir of his father, John Bowdler, and his uncle, Thomas Bowdler the elder. He was also editor of an expurgated version of Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, as prepared by his uncle.
The spelling of William Shakespeare's name has varied over time. It was not consistently spelled any single way during his lifetime, in manuscript or in printed form. After his death the name was spelled variously by editors of his work, and the spelling was not fixed until well into the 20th century.
Elizabeth Stuart Bowdler [née Cotton] was a religious writer.
The Family Shakespeare is a collection of expurgated Shakespeare plays, edited by Thomas Bowdler and his sister Henrietta ("Harriet"), intended to remove any material deemed too racy, blasphemous, or otherwise sensitive for young or female audiences, with the ultimate goal of creating a family-friendly rendition of Shakespeare's plays. However, despite this mission, The Family Shakespeare is most often cited in modern times as a negative example of literary censorship, despite its original family-friendly intentions. The Bowdler name is also the origin of the term "bowdlerize", meaning to omit parts of a work on moral grounds.