Jacob Tonson Criticism - Essay

Richard C. Boys (essay date 1940)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Boys, Richard C. “Some Problems of Dryden's Miscellany.” ELH 7, no. 2 (June 1940): 130-43.

[In the following essay, Boys discusses the mystery surrounding the publication of the various editions of Dryden and Tonson's Miscellany and Tonson's part in the matter.]

In 1684 the rising young bookseller, Jacob Tonson, added another feather to his cap by publishing Miscellany Poems, which came to be known as Dryden's or Tonson's Miscellany and enjoyed popular approval until 1727. In all there were six parts to the anthology in the forty-three years of its existence. Constantly re-issued it proved to be the most successful of the early...

(The entire section is 5248 words.)

Sarah Lewis Carol Clapp (essay date 1948)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Clapp, Sarah Lewis Carol. “Foreword.” In Jacob Tonson in Ten Letters by and About Him, pp. 4-8. Austin: The University of Texas Press, 1948.

[In the following excerpt, Clapp discusses the style and content of Tonson's letters, which she says provide insights into the man's character.]

“To entertain you I will show you … a phenomenon worth seeing and hearing, Old Jacob Tonson, who is the perfect image and likeness of Bayle's Dictionary;1 so full of matter, secret history, and wit and spirit, at almost four-score.” Thus wrote Pope in 1731 to Lord Oxford. Imitating Pope, this pamphlet makes and hopes in some measure to fulfil the same promise,...

(The entire section is 1311 words.)

Mary Hyde (essay date 1965)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Hyde, Mary. “Shakespeare's Head.” Shakespeare Quarterly 16, no. 2 (Spring 1965): 139-43.

[In the following essay, Hyde considers whether a signboard with a large image of Shakespeare, which was exhibited in the United States in 1964, once belonged to Tonson.]

Any unusual portrait of Shakespeare holds interest and this is true of the picture used here as a frontispiece. It came to this country from England in the spring of 1962 and aroused considerable curiosity when shown at Shakespeare's Four Hundredth Anniversary Exhibition at the Morgan Library in April, 1964. It is unusual, first of all, because it is extremely large, an uncomfortable size for enjoyment...

(The entire section is 2415 words.)

Harry M. Geduld (essay date 1969)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Geduld, Harry M. “Miscellany Poems,” “Tonson and Paradise Lost,” and “Shakespeare and Tonson.” In Prince of Publishers: A Study of the Work and Career of Jacob Tonson, pp. 87-109; 113-32; 135-48. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1969.

[In the following essay, Geduld discusses Tonson's compilations of verse, his publication of Milton's epic poem, and his popular editions of Shakespeare's works.]


A phenomenon such as Tonson's Miscellany is rare in the history of English literature. There are few instances in which a single collection of verse is representative of major developments in...

(The entire section is 16908 words.)

Kathleen M. Lynch (essay date 1971)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Lynch, Kathleen M. “Dryden and Tonson,” “Jacob's Ladder to Fame,” and “Eminent Publisher.” In Jacob Tonson, Kit-Cat Publisher, pp. 17-36; 67-94; 116-37. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1971.

[In the following essays, Lynch examines Tonson's complex relationship with John Dryden; explores some of his ambitious publishing projects; and discusses his influence and the distinguished authors whose careers flourished after their association with him]


For twenty years, until Dryden's death, Jacob Tonson was to remain the poet's publisher. Those who have made much of their quarrels might instead have...

(The entire section is 29117 words.)

Alfred W. Hesse (essay date 1977)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Hesse, Alfred W. ‘Pope's Role in Tonson's “Loss of Rowe.”’ Notes and Queries n.s. 24, no. 3 (June 1977): 234-35.

[In the following essay, Hesse explains a reference in Pope's “A Farewell to London” as having to do with Tonson losing one of his authors to a rival publisher.]

Lintot, farewell! thy Bard must go;
          Farewell, unhappy Tonson!
Heaven gives thee for thy Loss of Rowe,
          Lean Philips, and fat Johnson.

The “Loss of Rowe” in these lines from Pope's “A Farewell to LONDON. In the Year 1715.” is inadequately explained in the Twickenham Edition of the Poems of Alexander Pope (vi, 131)—“i.e. when...

(The entire section is 878 words.)

Stuart Gillespie (essay date 1988)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Gillespie, Stuart. “The Early Years of the Dryden-Tonson Partnership: The Background to Their Composite Translations and Miscellanies of the 1680s.” Restoration: Studies in English Literary Culture, 1660-1700 12, no. 1 (Spring 1988): 10-19.

[In the following essay, Gillespie offers a reinterpretation of the evidence concerning the translation projects undertaken by Dryden and Tonson in the 1680s.]

One of the most influential literary partnerships of the seventeenth century commenced when, in 1679, Jacob Tonson first printed the work of John Dryden. In the following seven years, four unusual productions emerged from their alliance to set a number of decisive...

(The entire section is 5895 words.)

Stuart Bennett (essay date 1988)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Bennett, Stuart. “Jacob Tonson: An Early Editor of Paradise Lost?” The Library 10, no. 3 (September 1988): 247-52.

[In the following essay, Bennett considers the textual evidence for the case that Tonson was involved in the publication of the 1688 folio edition of Paradise Lost.]

Most of the evidence for Jacob Tonson's editorial involvement with the publication of the 1688 folio edition of Paradise Lost can be derived from two sources: variations, not previously remarked, between the text of the 1688 folio and the previous three editions of Paradise Lost, and the controversy some forty years later over Richard Bentley's 1732 version of...

(The entire section is 2979 words.)

Paul Hammond (essay date 1990)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Hammond. Paul. “The Printing of the Dryden-Tonson Miscellany Poems (1684) and Sylvae (1685).” The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 84, no. 4 (Dec. 1990): 405-12.

[In the following essay, Hammond reconstructs the process by which Dryden and Tonson's Miscellany Poems and Sylvae reached their final form.]

The first two in the series of verse miscellanies published by Tonson with some editorial supervision by Dryden are important volumes in the publishing and cultural history of the Restoration. Miscellany Poems (1684) and Sylvae (1685)1 were particularly influential in fostering a taste for...

(The entire section is 3290 words.)

Keith Walker (essay date 1992)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Walker, Keith. “Jacob Tonson, Bookseller.” The American Scholar 61, no. 3 (Summer 1992): 424-30.

[In the following essay, Walker discusses Tonson's career as a publisher and notes his influence during his own time and on the publishing world to this day.]

“Before the eighteenth century it was indecorous to make a living out of poetry; afterwards it became almost impossible,” Pat Rogers begins a recent review in the Times Literary Supplement (April 26, 1991), with some sacrifice of accuracy to elegance. The responsibility for writers being able, for however short a time, to make money out of poetry rests largely with the bookseller Jacob Tonson....

(The entire section is 5042 words.)

John Barnard (essay date 1998)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Barnard, John. “The Large- and Small-Paper Copies of Dryden's The Works of Virgil (1697): Jacob Tonson's Investment and Profits and the Example of Paradise Lost (1688).” The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 92, no. 3 (September 1998): 259-71.

[In the following essay, Barnard discusses Tonson's publication of Dryden's The Works of Virgil and considers the profits he made from this and other similar projects.]

The existence of large and small copies of the first folio edition of Dryden's The Works of Virgil published by Jacob Tonson in 1697 is well established. Hugh Macdonald reported seeing copies of what he called...

(The entire section is 4602 words.)