1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Dyce, Alexander

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DYCE, ALEXANDER (1798-1869), English dramatic editor and literary historian, was born in Edinburgh on the 30th of June 1798. After receiving his early education at the high school of his native city, he became a student at Exeter College, Oxford, where he graduated B.A. in 1819. He took holy orders, and became a curate at Lantegloss, in Cornwall, and subsequently at Nayland, in Suffolk; in 1827 he settled in London. His first books were Select Translations from Quintus Smyrnaeus (1821), an edition of Collins (1827), and Specimens of British Poetesses (1825). He issued annotated editions of George Peele, Robert Greene, John Webster, Thomas Middleton, Marlowe, and Beaumont and Fletcher, with lives of the authors and much illustrative matter. He completed, in 1833, an edition of James Shirley left unfinished by William Gifford, and contributed biographies of Shakespeare, Pope, Akenside and Beattie to Pickering’s Aldine Poets. He also edited (1836-1838) Richard Bentley’s works, and Specimens of British Sonnets (1833). His carefully revised edition of John Skelton, which appeared in 1843, did much to revive interest in that trenchant satirist. In 1857 his edition of Shakespeare was published by Moxon; and the second edition, a great improvement on the old one, was issued by Chapman & Hall in 1866. He also published Remarks on Collier’s and Knight’s Editions of Shakespeare (1844); A Few Notes on Shakespeare (1853); and Strictures on Collier’s new Edition of Shakespeare (1859), a contribution to the Collier controversy (see Collier, John Payne), which ended a long friendship between the two scholars. He was intimately connected with several literary societies, and undertook the publication of Kempe’s Nine Days’ Wonder for the Camden Society; and the old plays of Timon and Sir Thomas More were published by him for the Shakespeare Society. He was associated with Halliwell-Phillips, John Payne Collier and Thomas Wright as one of the founders of the Percy Society, for publishing old English poetry. Dyce also issued Recollections of the Table Talk of Samuel Rogers (1856). He died on the 15th of May 1869. He had collected a valuable library, containing amongst other treasures many rare Elizabethan books, and this collection he bequeathed to the South Kensington Museum. He displayed untiring industry, abundant learning, and admirable critical acumen in his editions of the old English poets. His wide reading in Elizabethan literature enabled him to explain much that was formerly obscure in Shakespeare; while his sound judgment was a check to extravagance in emendation. While preserving all that was valuable in former editions, Dyce added much fresh matter. His Glossary, a large volume of 500 pages, was the most exhaustive that had appeared.