Heritage Press – The Histories of William Shakespeare (1958)

The Histories of William Shakespeare (1958)
Sandglass Number Unknown
Artwork: Wood engravings by John Farleigh
Introduced by John G. McManaway
Heritage Press Exclusive: The LEC released all of the histories as individual books, along with the remainder of Shakespeare’s plays, through 1939 and 1940.

Click images for larger views.


Front Binding – All of the original releases of the Heritage Dramatic Works of Shakespeare (my designation) have this design on their boards. As you can see through my LEC Shakespeare posts (like King John), this pattern is borrowed from those very works.

Shakespeare was the most printed of the George Macy Company’s authors, with each of his plays receiving a LEC edition (with a few getting two), plus his sonnets and poems seeing publication as well. The Heritage Press also had quite a few exclusives of the Bard: the sonnets, Romeo and Juliet, and these three compilations of plays broken up by the three major styles of drama, comedy, tragedy and history. Edward Ardizzone performed artistic flourish to the comedies, Agnes Miller Parker the tragedies, and John Farleigh the histories, which is what our post focuses on today.

While on the subject of Farleigh, now’s a good time to get a little into his illustrious illustration career. Farleigh is a master woodcutter with a unique style compared to his contemporaries, and he did a few commissions for George Macy, including this; he also produced art for the LEC Back to Methuselah by George Bernard Shaw (1939), and Prometheus Bound and Prometheus Unbound, a combination of Aeschylus and Percy Bysshe Shelley’s plays, printed for both the LEC and the Heritage Press in 1965. He is perhaps best known for another Shaw work done outside of the Macy canon, The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God in 1932, which received a fair amount of consternation back in the day for being such a bold book that tackled race, religion and sex in one fell swoop (not to mention Farleigh’s somewhat risque renderings of the tale).



Title Page – James G. McManaway supplies the introduction for this set, and Farleigh gets a chance to flaunt his interesting wood engraving style. Nice title page!

Page 9 – A piece from King John. I like the addition of red to the woodcut; it adds some vibrancy to the violence rendered here. Each play gets a solo woodcut.

Page 185 – This is from King Henry IV Part 1.

Personal Notes – I recently acquired my own copy of this from my local Goodwill. It didn’t come with a Sandglass but it was otherwise in good condition. This has been updated accordingly.

Updated 12/27/2018 JF

2 thoughts on “Heritage Press – The Histories of William Shakespeare (1958)”

  1. hi. i have the tragedies of w Shakespeare from heritage. it has a piece of paper in the front that says sandglass number I-Viii- xiv:23r. i’m getting ready to put it on amazon but if you would rather get it then let me know…

    1. Hi Melanie,

      Thanks for the offer, but I do not use this blog to purchase books. I’m the sort who prefers to see what I’m getting at a bookstore. Thanks for the info, though – when I get the Tragedies up I’ll credit you for the info on the Sandglass. Best of luck in your selling!

      ~ Wildcat

      PS – I removed your e-mail so others won’t spam you.

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