Edmond Malone bigraphy, stories - Irish Shakespearean scholar and editor

Edmond Malone : biography

4 October 1741 - 25 April 1812

Edmond Malone (4 October 1741 – 25 May 1812) was an Irish Shakespearean scholar and editor of the works of William Shakespeare.

Assured of an income after the death of his father in 1774, Malone was able to give up his law practice for at first political and then more congenial literary pursuits. He went to London, where he frequented literary and artistic circles. He regularly visited Samuel Johnson and was of great assistance to James Boswell in revising and proofreading his Life, four of the later editions of which he annotated. He was friendly with Sir Joshua Reynolds, and sat for a portrait now in the National Portrait Gallery.

He was one of Reynolds' executors, and published a posthumous collection of his works (1798) with a memoir. Horace Walpole, Edmund Burke, George Canning, Oliver Goldsmith, Lord Charlemont, and, at first, George Steevens, were among Malone's friends. Encouraged by Charlemont and Steevens, he devoted himself to the study of Shakespearean chronology, and the results of his "An Attempt to Ascertain the Order in Which the Plays Attributed to Shakspeare Were Written" (1778), which finally made it conceivable to try to patch together a biography of Shakespeare through the plays themselves,Lear, S: . , 2010. are still largely accepted. This was followed in 1780 by two supplementary volumes to Steevens's version of Dr Johnson's Shakespeare, partly consisting of observations on the history of the Elizabethan stage, and of the text of doubtful plays; and this again, in 1783, by an appendix volume. His refusal to alter some of his notes to Isaac Reed's edition of 1785, which disagreed with Steevens's, resulted in a quarrel with the latter.


Birth and early life

Edmond Malone was born 4 October 1741 in Dublin to Edmond Malone Sr. (1704–1774) —MP of the Irish House of Commons and judge of the Court of Common Pleas in Ireland—and Catherine Collier, the niece of Robert Knight, 1st Earl of Catherlough. He had two sisters, Henrietta and Catherine, and an older brother, Richard (later Lord Sunderlin). Edmond Malone Sr. was a successful lawyer and politician, educated at Oxford University and the Inner Temple in London, and called to the Bar in England in 1730, where he had a legal practice. But in 1740, a year before Edmond Jr. was born, his practice in England failed and he returned to Ireland. He took up residence with his wife on the family's country estate, Shinglas, in County Westmeath, and began a more successful legal practice there.

According to Peter Martin, Malone's main biographer in the 20th century: “Virtually nothing is known of his childhood and adolescence except that in 1747 he was sent to Dr. Ford's preparatory school in Molesworth Street, Dublin, where his brother Richard had already been enrolled for two years.” The next record of his education is 10 years later, in 1757, when he—not yet 16 years old—entered Trinity College, Dublin, where his brother went to study two years earlier and where his father had received an honorary LL.D. the year before. Malone excelled at his studies, “an exemplary student, naturally diligent, consistently at the top of his class”, and was awarded with books stamped with the College Arms. In the very first examination, of four in the academic year, he shared top honors with James Drought and John Kearney who later became Fellows of the College.

As an undergraduate he wrote some poetry and literary history. Of the latter, a noteworthy example is a prose translation of Oedipus Rex by Sophocles with annotations and explanatory notes that Martin describes as “surprisingly erudite”. The translation is accompanied by a twenty page “… Essay on the Origin and Progress of Tragedy & on the Office & Advantages of the Antient Chorus” where he provides a brief comparison of Sophocles and Euripides and argues in favor of the restoration of the Chorus in modern drama.

The Great Bath — the entire structure above the level of the pillar bases is a later reconstruction. His studies were interrupted when, in the summer of 1759, he and his father accompanied his mother to Highgate in England. Catherine's health had been deteriorating for some time and she now had increasing difficulty walking. After a short stay in Highgate she moved to the Roman Baths at Bath in Somerset, where the waters where supposed to have health-giving properties. Malone and his father returned to Ireland in October, too late to resume the winter term, so he elected to stay at Shinglas until the new year and study on his own. Not wishing to leave his father solitary, he nearly did not return to Trinity, but eventually resumed his studies in January 1760. The expenses for Catherine's stay at Bath put a strain on the family finances, but it was alleviated somewhat when, after a special examination on 2 June, he won a scholarship at Trinity and became a Scholar of the House.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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