The Dramatick Works of John Dryden, Esq.

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by John Dryden

The Dramatick Works of John Dryden, Esq.

Title page from The Dramatick Works of John Dryden, Esq., volume six, George Wythe Collection, Wolf Law Library, College of William & Mary.

Author John Dryden
Editor William Congreve
Translator {{{trans}}}
Published London: Printed for J. and R. Tonson in the Strand
Date 1762-1763
Edition {{{edition}}}
Language English
Volumes 6 volume set
Pages {{{pages}}}
Desc. 12mo (17 cm.)
Location Shelf M-4
  [[Shelf {{{shelf2}}}]]

John Dryden (1631 – 1700) was an influential and innovative poet, critic, playwright, and translator.[1] Dryden began his career as a poet, influenced by his love of Greek and Roman poetry, and later established his profession in theater. Dryden stopped writing plays for the stage with the outbreak of the plague in London in 1665, but continued to write other types of work. His works show his belief in divine providence, and his interest in fanciful adaptations of classic works, including those of Shakespeare and Milton, and political satire supporting King Charles II.

Frontispiece, volume one.

In the 1660s-70s, Dryden's work became dominated by the heroic drama and critical essays. He fiercely praised the use of "dramatick" rhyme and language in his plays.[2] In 1680 he contracted with a bookseller, a turning point in his career when he began translating Greek and Roman classics.[3]

In 1685, Dryden converted to Catholicism, and his works evolved from his modern and secular tone to become dominated by religious devotion.[4] Dryden published his three-year project translating all the works of Virgil in 1697 while suffering from brain cancer.

Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

Listed in the Jefferson Inventory of Wythe's Library as "Dryden's works. 6.v. 12mo." and given by Thomas Jefferson to his granddaughters, Ann and Ellen Randolph. The precise edition of the set owned by Wythe is unknown. George Wythe's Library[5] on LibraryThing indicates as much, adding "Six-volume editions in duodecimo were published at London in 1717, 1725, 1735, and 1762-63." The Brown Bibliography[6] lists the 1762-1763 edition based on the copy Jefferson sold to the Library of Congress.[7] The Wolf Law Library followed Brown's suggestion and purchased a copy of the 1762-1763 edition.

Frontispiece, volume four.

Description of the Wolf Law Library's copy

Bound in half brown calf with marbled boards and endpapers, spines have raised bands with 2 dark brown labels lettered in gilt. Gilt decoration on the remainder of the spine and all edges gilt. Purchased from Gibson Galleries.

Images of the library's copy of this book are available on Flickr. View the record for this book in William & Mary's online catalog.

See also


  1. Paul Hammond, "Dryden, John (1631–1700)," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004), accessed September 24, 2013. Unless otherwise noted, all biographical details are from this source.
  2. Samuel Johnson “The Life of Dryden," Lives of the English Poets, ed. G.B. Hill (Clarendon Press, 1905), as transcribed by Jack Lynch.
  3. Tina Skouen, “The Vocal Wit of John Dryden,” Rhetorica: A Journal of the History of Rhetoric, 24, No. 4 (University of California Press, 2006), p. 373.
  4. Felicity Rosslyn, "Dryden: Poet or Translator?" Translation & Literature 10, no. 1: 21 (Academic Search Complete, 2001), pp. 24-25.
  5. LibraryThing, s. v. "Member: George Wythe", accessed on November 18, 2013.
  6. Bennie Brown, "The Library of George Wythe of Williamsburg and Richmond," (unpublished manuscript, May, 2012) Microsoft Word file. Earlier edition available at:
  7. E. Millicent Sowerby, Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, (Washington, D.C.: The Library of Congress, 1952-1959), 4:538 [no.4543].