Robert Dodsley Criticism - Essay

Alexander Chalmers (essay date 1810)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Chalmers, Alexander. “Life of Dodsley.” In The Works of the English Poets, From Chaucer to Cowper, pp. 313-23. 1810. Reprint. New York: Johnson Reprint Corporation, 1971.

[In the following essay, originally published in 1810, Chalmers provides an early assessment of Dodsley's life and literary output.]

An account of Mr. Dodsley was added to the new edition of the Biographia Britannica by Dr. Kippis, but without much information from personal inquiry, which at that time must have been in the doctor's power; nor does he appear to have seen The Muse in Livery, which would have cleared up the doubts respecting the early condition of our author. In...

(The entire section is 6153 words.)

Ralph Straus (essay date 1910)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Straus, Ralph. “Theatrical Work, 1737-1749” and “Select Fables.” In Robert Dodsley: Poet, Publisher and Playwright, pp. 57-66 and pp. 282-92. London: John Lane The Bodley Head, 1910.

[In the following excerpt, Straus analyzes Dodsley's dramatic works written between 1737 and 1749, his work in preserving forgotten dramas in his Collection of Old Plays, and his fables.]


Speaking of 1737, Doran says: ‘Drury gained this season a new author in Dodsley,’ who ‘gave wholesome food to satisfy the public appetite; and the man who had not long before slipped off a livery, showed more respect for...

(The entire section is 5532 words.)

Jeanne K. Welcher and Richard Dircks (essay date 1965)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Welcher, Jeanne K., and Dircks, Richard. Introduction to An Essay on Fable, by Robert Dodsley, pp. i-viii. Los Angeles: William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, 1965.

[In the following essay, Welcher and Dircks discuss the warm critical attention Dodsley received for his Select Fables and the originality and scholarship of “An Essay on Fable.”]

When Robert Dodsley published his Select Fables of Aesop and other Fabulists in 1761, he prefixed to it a study of the fable genre entitled “An Essay on Fable.” In undertaking a comprehensive study of the subject for the first time in English and in the method of organizing his material, Dodsley...

(The entire section is 2335 words.)

James E. Tierney (essay date summer 1973)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Tierney, James E. “The Museum, the ‘Super-Excellent Magazine.’” Studies in English Literature 13 (summer 1973): 503-15.

[In the following essay, Tierney argues that Dodsley's literary journal The Museum was a far more important reflection of the age than the Gentleman's Magazine.]

Robert Dodsley's fortnightly, The Museum: or, Literary and Historical Register (London, 1746-1747) survives as a rather comprehensive portrait of its age. Edited by Mark Akenside, this periodical did not imitate the Gentleman's Magazine, as has been suggested. Unlike Cave's production, the Museum did not chronicle...

(The entire section is 4764 words.)

James Gray (essay date summer 1974)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Gray, James. “‘More Blood than Brains’: Robert Dodsley and the Cleone Affair.” Dalhousie Review 54 (summer 1974): 207-27.

[In the following essay, Gray describes the rivalry between two London theater companies and how it affected the writing, staging, and critical reception of Dodsley's Cleone.]

When Robert Dodsley's tragedy Cleone opened at Covent Garden on Saturday evening, December 2, 1758, one of the most heated controversies in the history of the London stage came to the boiling point.1 Once in service as a footman and now in business as a bookseller, Dodsley had earned the distinction of ranging some of the great names in...

(The entire section is 8376 words.)

Richard Wendorf (essay date 1978)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Wendorf, Richard. “Robert Dodsley as Editor.” Studies in Bibliography 31 (1978): 235-48.

[In the following essay, Wendorf analyzes Dodsley's editorial work on Collection of Poems, arguing that although Dodsley often changed wording and punctuation in the poems he published, he usually did so with the consent of the authors.]

In spite of the considerable amount of bibliographical work which has been devoted to Robert Dodsley and his Collection of Poems, surprisingly little attention has been paid to Dodsley's role as an editor of eighteenth-century poetry.1 That an examination of editorial influence should focus on Dodsley is natural...

(The entire section is 6981 words.)

James E. Tierney (essay date 1983)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Tierney, James E. “Robert Dodsley: The First Printer and Stationer to the Society.” In The Virtuoso Tribe of Arts and Sciences: Studies in the Eighteenth Century Work and Membership of the London Society of Arts, edited by D. G. C. Allan and John L. Abbott, pp. 281-92. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

[In the following essay, originally published in 1983, Tierney recounts Dodsley's five-year association with the London Society of Arts.]

With noticeable pride, Secretary George Box recorded in the three-year-old Society's Minutes on 6th April 1757 that Robert Dodsley ‘who has long taken Care of correctly printing whatever has been order'd for...

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James E. Tierney (essay date 1988)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Tierney, James E. Introduction to The Correspondence of Robert Dodsley 1733-1764, pp. 3-64. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

[In the following excerpt, Tierney examines Dodsley's work as dramatist, journalist, editor, publisher, and bookseller.]


Writing to Thomas Percy in 1761, William Shenstone took obvious delight in recounting an anecdote arising from Lady Gough's recent visit. Apparently the Lady had taken the liberty of peeking into a letter from Dodsley that lay open on the table. Confusing the bookseller with the deistical pamphleteer Henry Dodwell (d. 1784), she soon thereafter sent...

(The entire section is 10732 words.)

Michael F. Suarez (essay date June 1994)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Suarez, Michael F. “Dodsley's Collection of Poems and the Ghost of Pope: The Politics of Literary Reputation.” Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 88, no. 2 (June 1994): 189-206.

[In the following essay, Suarez argues that the first three editions of Dodsley's Collection of Poems were indebted to the patronage, editorial style, literary circle, and poetic ideals of Alexander Pope.]

In 1756, Richard Graves published some verses praising his friend Robert Dodsley. One especially laudatory section celebrates the London publisher's great stature in the literary world of his day:

Where Tully's Bust, the Honour'd Name...

(The entire section is 6083 words.)

Harry M. Solomon (essay date 1996)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Solomon, Harry M. “Apology: ‘Dodsley's life should be written,’” and “Creating Canons: 1741-1748.” In The Rise of Robert Dodsley: Creating the New Age of Print, pp. 1-6; 88-117. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1996.

[In the first essay which follows, Solomon argues that a new biography of Dodsley is warranted, one that does not treat the publisher as a secondary literary figure to the authors he published. In the second, Solomon recounts Dodsley's many literary achievements as a poet, dramatist, journalist, editor, bookseller, and patron of the arts.]



(The entire section is 17277 words.)

Michael F. Suarez (essay date 1996)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Suarez, Michael F. “Trafficking in the Muse: Dodsley's Collection of Poems and the Question of Canon.” In Tradition in Transition: Women Writers, Marginal Texts, and the Eighteenth-Century Canon, edited by Alvaro Ribeiro and James G. Basker, pp. 297-313. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996.

[In the following essay, Suarez discusses how Dodsley's Collection of Poems was edited, marketed to a specialized readership, and came to be thought of as representative of mid-eighteenth-century English poetics.]


In his ‘Introduction’ to The New Oxford Book of Eighteenth-Century Verse (1984), Roger Lonsdale presents a...

(The entire section is 7441 words.)