The Letterpress All’s Well That Ends Well
One of Shakespeare's 'problem plays', this tale of Helena's quest to trick Bertram into marrying her contains some of the bard's most brilliant female characters.
Twere all one
That I should love a bright particular star
And think to wed it, he is so far above me.
Act 1, Sc. 1
A poor physician's daughter, Helena has dared to fall in love with the young Count Bertram. After she cures the king who was suffering from a terrible disease, she asks for Bertram's hand in marriage as a reward. Undaunted by his contemptuous rejection, Helena contrives to gain his ring and become pregnant by him, all without his knowledge. The play ends with Bertram agreeing to honour the forced marriage.
George Bernard Shaw called it 'a bitter play with a bitter title', although he greatly admired the female characters, thinking the Countess 'the most beautiful old woman's part ever written'. Other nineteenth-century critics were appalled by Helena's bold pursuit of Bertram, while all commentators have struggled with Bertram himself - is he a spoilt boy, or a rogue? Does the ending offer happiness or is the play's title ironic? Many have noted the king's ambiguous words, 'All yet seems well', and the conditional in Bertram's promise: 'If she, my
Limited to 1,000 hand-numbered copies
Hand-bound in goatskin leather, blocked in gold with hand-marbled paper sides
Gilded top edge, ribbon marker
16pt 'Monotype' Baskerville, with Caslon display
Set in hot metal and printed letterpress on mould-made paper
Oxford University Press text under General Editor Stanley Wells
14˝ x 10¾˝
This includes the text of the play with full explanatory notes
Bound in buckram
8¾˝ x 5¾˝
Bound in buckram
15˝ x 11˝ x 2¾˝