1598. London: Printed by Adam Islip, at the charges of Thomas Wight, 1598.
Folio, ,  ff., black letter, double-columns, title-page within a woodcut border, three divisional title-pages within woodcut borders, woodcut initials, ornamental headpieces and tailpieces, large woodcut coat of arms to verso of the prologues, and woodcut headpiece for “The Knightes tale.” Later (c. 1700?) calf with gilt supra libros stamp “HL” beneath a Viscount’s coronet; backstrip with five raised bands and faint remnants of gilt tooling in each panel, red speckled edges. Lacks leaf a6, and the portrait of Chaucer, binding rubbed and bumped at corners, minor foxing, stains and wormholes, none of which obscure text, lacking the last 14 leaves mentioned in ESTC, Pforzheimer, and Grolier Club L-W, “The old and obfcure Words of Chaucer, explaned,” Aaaa 1-Bbbb 2, and “Corrections of fome faults, and Annotations upon fome places,” Bbbb 3-Bbbb 7. The text of Chaucer’s Works is complete.
§ Thomas Speght edition with interesting provenance and evidence of early readership. Speght was assisted in his editing by John Stowe, Francis Thynne, Francis Beaumont (the elder) and Robert Glover. It was the most recent Chaucer edition available during the period when Shakespeare was adapting Chaucer's Troilus to create Troilus and Cressida (1601-2). There are various settings of the title, some with a different woodcut border, and with slightly different imprints. Includes “The Canterbury Tales,” “The Romaunt of the Rose,” and “The Story of Thebes” by John Lydgate, all with divisional woodcut titles. An interesting copy with evidence of early readership in a few scattered annotations and shelf notes, Ben Jonson’s poem “The Kiss” in contemporary hand to verso of Errata with very minor variations from the printed version of 1601, and an intriguing inscription in a young girl's hand on f. 308 reading “Elisbleh Welde is my nam[e]” (sic). Provenance: Ink signature “Jo. Fortescue, Pem. Col. Oxenford, AD 1599,” to front pastedown; gilt supralibros "HL" beneath a viscount coronet, Henry Yelverton viscount de Longueville (1664-1704); Evelina Rothschild with her bookplate to front pastedown. Slipped in is a note from the bookseller Hatchard, circa 1890, regarding this copy’s price. Grolier Club L-W, 43. Pfortzheimer 177. ESTC S111945. Robert Harding of Maggs noted of this copy that de Longueville had "a very large library for the time" But he seems largely unrecorded in bibliophile circles. Item #108633