The Complete Concordance to Shakspere: Being a Verbal Index to All the Passages in the Dramatic Works of the Poet

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Daughter of the music publisher Vincent Novello, Mary Cowden Clarke (1809-98) grew up in London amid her father's literary and artistic circle. Charles and Mary Lamb were family friends, and their Tales from Shakespeare (1807) inspired the young Mary to become a scholar of the Bard. This monumental concordance - which took twelve years to compile and a further four to see through the press - was first published between 1844 and 1845 in eighteen monthly parts, and then in book form in 1845. The preface opens with a statement that reflects Cowden Clarke's great admiration and ambition: 'Shakspere [sic], the most frequently quoted, because the most universal-minded Genius that ever lived, of all Authors best deserves a complete Concordance to his Works.' It was to remain the standard work of its kind for half a century and is still a fascinating and diverting source of information on Shakespeare's extraordinary vocabulary.