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Sir Thomas Hanmer.

Sir Thomas Hanmer, 4th Baronet (24 September 1677 – 7 May 1746) was Speaker of the House of Commons from 1714 to 1715, discharging the duties of the office with conspicuous impartiality. He is, however, perhaps best remembered as being one of the early editors of the works of William Shakespeare.

He was one of the founding governors of the Foundling Hospital, a charity set up for London's abandoned children in 1739, which also became a centre for the arts.[1]

Hanmer's Shakespeare was published at Oxford in 1744, with nearly forty illustrations by Francis Hayman and Hubert Gravelot.[2] The Cambridge History of English and American Literature states that "The print and binding were magnificent, and caused its value to rise to nine guineas, when Warburton’s edition was going for eighteen shillings."[3]

Hanmer's editing, however, was based on his own selection of emendations from the Shakespeare editions of Alexander Pope and Lewis Theobald, along with his own conjectures, without indicating for the reader what was in his source texts and what was editorially corrected.[4] Therefore Hanmer's edition is not highly regarded today, with the editors of The Oxford Shakespeare assessing it in William Shakespeare: A Textual Companion as "one of the worst in the eighteenth century."[5]

Also, Hamner became the target of ridicule by Pope, who in his Dunciad lampoons him under the name Montalto (Book IV, 105ff.) and refers to him in a note (IV 113) as "An eminent person, who was about to publish a very pompous Edition of a great Author, at his own expense" (emphasis original).[6]

However, there are some emendations of value that were made by Hanmer which have been accepted into later editions of Shakespeare.[3]

See also


  1. ^ R.H. Nichols and F A. Wray, The History of the Foundling Hospital London: Oxford University Press, 1935, p. 347.
  2. ^ Information from Washington University in St. Louis University Libraries Website article on special collections containing Shakespearean illustrations, accessed November 9, 2006.
  3. ^ a b A.W. Ward, et al., The Cambridge history of English and American literature: An encyclopedia in eighteen volumes. "XI. The Text of Shakespeare. § 13. Hanmer’s edition." New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons; Cambridge, England: University Press, 1907–21. Accessed at on November 9, 2006.
  4. ^ Thomas Hubeart, "Shaking Up Shakespeare," accessed on November 9, 2006.
  5. ^ Stanley Wells & Gary Taylor, et al., William Shakespeare: A Textual Companion (NY: Norton, 1997 [reprint of Oxford University Press ed., 1987]), p. 54. ISBN 0-393-31667-X.
  6. ^ Quoted from John Butt, ed., The Poems of Alexander Pope. New Haven: Yale UP, 1963, p. 772. ISBN 0-300-00030-8.
Political offices
Preceded by
William Bromley
Speaker of the House of Commons
Succeeded by
Spencer Compton
Baronetage of England
Preceded by
John Hanmer
(of Hanmer)
Succeeded by

This article incorporates text from the public domain 1907 edition of The Nuttall Encyclopædia.



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